I first heard of European cosmic-rock band Recs of the Flesh through their remix of "3rd Option," a track from Prong's 2007 album Power of the Damager. That project put the band in good standing alongside members of Anthrax, Dillinger Escape Plan, Pitchshifter, Dope and Al Jourgensen's project RevCo – all of whom contributed remixes to the 2009 companion CD Power of the Damn Mixxxer (check out our review here), released through Jourgensen's label. After hearing their eerie, unsettling take on that song, I found myself wondering why Recs hadn't gained more traction among North American audiences.
Thankfully, I got in touch with band founder Massimo Usai, who hooked me up with the band's first and second full-length albums, beginning with Illusory Fields of Unconsciousness and this year's intense follow-up The Threat Remains and is Very Real. Read on for a full review and check out their disturbing new video...
With members based both in Italy and Czech Republic, Recs of the Flesh was originally inspired by the works of legendary & controversial author William S. Burroughs (Naked Lunch), whose novel The Soft Machine – a mindbending fantasy exploration of the body's vulnerability to inside and outside forces – flipped a creative switch in Usai's psyche, prompting him to document his impressions as "Recordings of the Flesh." Although Usai's band lineup has revolved since then, their 2008 team put together their first full-length record Illusory Fields of Consciousness – a chilling blend of ghostly, hypnotic moods and experimental noise-rock that had many listeners calling them the second coming of Sonic Youth. It was around that time that Prong mainman Tommy Victor approached them about contributing the bonus Mixxxer track, which Prong premiered on their official site.
Eventually core band members Usai (guitars & main vocals) and Sara Melis (keyboards) recruited punk-influenced drummer Petr Studihrad (who unfortunately left the band recently) and bassist Federico Loche to collaborate on this new twelve-track opus, which broadens the eerie, disorienting horizons of Illusory Fields while cranking up the sonic aggression another notch, moving freely from dreamy, '80s new-wave melancholy to brain-blasting industrial brutality without missing a breath.
Their violent side gets all up in your business with the ripping opening cut "Subliminal/Delusional," with guitars, vocals and keyboards driven to gritty distortion, but never overpowering the dark heartbeat of the bass and drums. "The Threat" stays on the same energy level, but with a dirtier, punkish undercurrent and an old-school horror movie synth backdrop. Tremolo effects and a lurking bass drive the down-tempo track "Pictures," which features a nervous, tense vocal delivery from Usai, followed by the awesomely spooky "Save Your Selves," which draws on the chaotic feel of Butthole Surfers, particularly in the burning guitars and megaphone-style vocal delivery. A moody bass & drum undercurrent adds a touch of The Cure to "Headfake," another of the album's strongest and most nightmarish tunes, and "Midnite Rush" stirs punk and goth elements into a potent cocktail of angst.
An eerie vintage keyboard pattern adds a touch of mystery to "No Big Deal," followed by the mellow '80s-flavored "Acts of Reparation," which still carries a note of tension through the clean, bare vocals, releasing it in a dramatic instrumental explosion in the finale. The tone gets mean again in the sleazy riffs and teeth-clenched vocals of "Out-Burst," following that track's barely-bottled tension with the dark, hypnotic "Musings of Days to Come" before finally achieving a huge emotional release in the melancholy anthem "It Never Ends." The acoustic bonus track "Peace," which seems to blend elements of The Cure and later-day Jane's Addiction, falls a bit outside the overall feel of the album, but actually makes a good virtual b-side to "It Never Ends."
After a couple spins of this disc, a freaky thought hit me (I get those a lot): this band just might be channeling the same concept of the "New Flesh" that David Cronenberg explored in his early films – not only in his 1982 epic Videodrome (whose line "Long live the New Flesh" became one of the most revered in modern horror) and his own adaptation of Naked Lunch, but also the deeply disturbing 1979 film The Brood, which showed people's psychological traumas manifested externally on their bodies. That same idea that the body can become a flesh-and-blood canvas for the mind is explored in so many of these songs that you can almost see Cronenberg's imagery projected in your mind's eye while listening to the album. So when I say Recs' music will get under your skin, you'd better believe it.
The band is currently working on their first DVD release, and we'll update you on that soon. In the meantime, check out this chilling, ultra-violent clip below for the opening track "Subliminal/Delusional"...