Tilman Robinson’s new album, Culturecide (April 24, Bedroom Community), is an intense, thunderous record. After a frenetic start, in which synth-bleeding notes jump and stutter around like gymnasts at the Olympics, Culturecide continues at an unabating, unrelenting pace. After his last album, Deer Heart, listeners are right to expect promising things from Robinson, and his musical wizardry is in fine fettle on this latest outing. Although it’s unfair to compare records, Culturecide sees Robinson return with more experience and more years under his belt, expanding on and sometimes eclipsing its predecessor in terms of its production and strong artistic statement.
The fizzling, transcendent progression of ‘We Came for Your Riches’ is kneaded into a set of altered electronics, and a skewed vocal ensures that the music flows as it grows, even with its stitched-together aspects. The record is a dynamic listen – an ever-morphing ride without any filler or clutter. There isn’t a weak track on show.
The uneven palpitations of ‘Teach Me to Destroy You’ are massaged into a frail, translucent melody, and the heavy, irregular thumping opposes its slinking sound; a perfect balancing. Its follower, ‘Proxy War’, is as aggressive as they come and could be a representative of 2020, roaming around deserted streets, not just waiting for someone to inhale its toxicity but actively seeking out a new victim…and another…and another. The rumbling bass and the spiky tones are immediately heavy and up-front, looking for a fight, aiming to start a war. Flaunting the law, they don’t seem to care about the consequences, and the track is in a steady state of brewing, growing with its inflammatory rhetoric and only temporarily subdued by a softer vocal…but still, it growls and prowls.
On Culturecide, Robinson’s bold musical direction continues at quite a lick. Perhaps it does reflect on the death of some things, but it doesn’t feel like a bleak record (endings always reveal new beginnings, for good or for ill), and its strong harmonies pierce through the gloom, lighting upon a new age and a new dawn. Whatever the outcome, and whatever the new world brings, Robinson once again delivers the goods.