Almost one year ago to the day, when we last checked in on the evil dance grooves of German hellektro artist Wumpscut, aka Rudy Ratzinger, he was courting controversy with the insane promotional art for his album Women & Satan First, which also marked a strong return to the gothic horror beats and dark cinematic soundscapes that won him a worldwide following (and which made a die-hard fan out of this writer). With this year's ten-track release Madman Szpital, Rudy has found a fairly stable balance between those ominous musical themes and his decades of DJ experience twisting up beats – and he's invited other artists into his devil's playground to take part in the full-length remix album DJ Dwarf 13, continuing a tradition that began in 1997 with his hit album Embryodead and its companion remix disc.
The record is definitely front-loaded with its strongest tracks – including the eerie, jazz-sampling title track that shuffles to a down-tempo waltz beat; the glassy but punchy synth pattern of “Der Liebe Gott Sieht Alles” and the organ-driven “Tod Essen Leben Auf,” which calls to mind Goblin's score for Dario Argento's Tenebrae. Cuts like “The Duke of Death,” while suitably dark and atmospheric, feels a bit methodical compared to the first three songs, and “We Are Immortal” feels too light and airy for Ratzinger's overdriven vocal, but the synth colors of “Ich Bin Der Tod” are ideally bright and cinematic.
“Gabi Grausam” takes a mellower tone, with plinking metallic percussion loops beneath a softer synth line and moodier, more melodic vocals, but that mood is blasted out of the water with the industrial noise thuds of “Moshe Tokoloshe,” featuring guest vocals by Aleta Welling. I'm sure the racist title and samples of “Du Neger” are meant to be provocative, but the song itself doesn't make enough of a statement to make it worth a listen. The album ends on a light but moody tone with the breezy “Vegan Witch,” carried along by synths that recall John Carpenter's later-period film scores.
While there are some very strong entries here, Madman Szpital doesn't quite pack the horrific punch of Women & Satan First – which I'll admit is a tough act to follow – but there's enough good material to provide grist for the remix mill, in the form of DJ Dwarf XIII. It's a solid and entertaining installment in the ongoing series, weighing in at sixteen tracks in all. The guest remixers span multiple genres including hard EDM, dark ambient, dub and industrial noise, with Dutch ambient/electro duo Advent Resilience among the major contributors, their best entry being a wicked noise-heavy spin on “Ich Bin Der Tod." The list of worthy repeaters also includes a seriously dark, brain-hammering rendition of “Tod Essen Leben Auf” by terror EBM unit Reactor7x, a cosmic expansion of “Grobian” by Sinthetik Messiah, and a club-mad version of “Gabi Grausam” by Ustkraltor.
As a side note to collectors, Wumpscut has always been prolific when it comes to special editions, box sets and collectible bundles, and Madman Szpital is no exception: the limited edition is bundled with the remix album along with tons of Wumpscut swag, and the new artwork by renowned illustrator Daniele Serra (selected as 2012 Artist of the Year by UK site This Is Horror) is both cute and creepy, reminiscent of the “Baby Cthulhu” mascot that adorned the 2000 double-album Bloodchild.