CD Review

Acumen Nation – “What the Fuck”

By Marcus Pan

What the Fuck?“Ac·u·men - n. - Quickness, accuracy, and keenness of judgment or insight.” Acumen Nation, therefore, is a keen and accurate government. Sarcasm, surely, as the name of their CD is What the Fuck, which makes me think that the whole idea of a national acumen on any level is Utopian idolatry at best and pure fantastical pipe dreaming at worst. You’d think, therefore, Acumen Nation’s What the Fuck is therefore going to be a lot about governments being stupid. Quite possible, but I’m too busy slamming to the heavy barrage of this record to worry overmuch about lyrical content. It’s grooving.

This CD is actually, rather than a new release per-se, a collection of the past ten years of Acumen Nation’s previous six albums. The first two tracks are 2005 releases – The Wreck of Us and Life’s Last Breath with guest vocalists Eric Powell (16 Volt) and Lucia Cifarelli (KMFDM). That’s a helluva highlight right there, kiddies. The less-than-a-month-ago release date[1] of What the Fuck crops up on WTII Records, a label that I’ve been digging for some time now.

The CD will go backwards in time with little exception (the Pretty Like a Porn Star closing the album from 1998 though) running through Acumen Nation’s catalog of bests. You can see, for example, how the 2003 The Paralysis is Real track is a bit more guitar than the industrial of the previous two ‘05’ers’ synthetic movements. It’s funny how as we move back in time we get more futuristic pulses sounding in the music. A nice, if strange, nuance to What the Fuck.

Bastard vs Monster Zero is a cool track, sounding like one of those super cheesy B-level martian action movies with warpy sound effects and a crazy beat. It’s the 1950s trying to sound 2050s. Fuck Yer Brains Out is complete drum ‘n’ bass (and I dare you to keep up the pace to this BPM monster). The deep growled bass line is especially crunchy and tasty. Revelations per Minute show Acumen Nation’s prowess at the drum ‘n’ bass breakbeat schtick, with its consistently changing rhythms to which spit lyrics are hammered like verbal crucifixions.

Queener is strange, sometimes annoying and does this by combining a sweetened synth melody with a hardcore guitar thrash. No Arms No Legs is a funky 2005 track with smooth double-bass drum rolls and, as is typical with Acumen Nation, heavy-handed drumming and spit lyrics. I dig it for its smoothness and the way the lyricals will hook up with the drumming to become part of the rhythmic backing itself.

I like What the Fuck, because while it can solidly stand amongst the industrial, cyberpunk and rivethead scenes, it will step lightly into other genres like trance, early synth-based Euro-industrial, metal and thrash. All while still being a solid “industrial CD.” It’s also quite nice to see a decade-long movement of a band’s career, with tracks picked well that clearly show transgressions, inclusions and deletions in their overall style as we move backwards in time to the sound of their phenomenal beat tracks.

Contact Information:
WTII Records, LLC
Post: PO Box 13495, Chicago, IL, 60613, USA
Phone: (773) 989-4317
[1] I am SO kicking with getting these reviews done. You should be either very proud of me or, if female, suck me off or something in appreciation. Probably while I’m continuing to write reviews so I don’t fall behind.

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