Dutch experimentalists RMFTM (aka Radar Men From The Moon) are ushering in their tenth year as a band with their sixth full length The Bestial Light, released 8 May on Fuzz Club Records. The LP marks yet another evolution in sound and line-up from the shape-shifting Eindhoven-based collective.
Across their extensive back-catalogue and many collaborations (including with the likes of Gnod, The Cosmic Dead and 10 000 Russos, as well as the occasional art piece), the band have moved from expansive space-rock to avant-garde drone and industrial techno. Now, however, is the time for something else. Bolstered by the addition of a vocalist and second drummer, RMFTM headed back into the studio with their long-term producer Bob de Wit (Gnod, A Place to Bury Strangers, Mudhoney) to record the incendiary new LP, which sees the band move on from the electronic experimentations of the Subversive album trilogy (culminating in their most-recent LP, 2018’s De Spelende Mens) and last year’s Bliss EP. Their new direction, instead, finds them journeying into a dissonant industrial punk sound, fusing heavy industrial rhythm sections, biting post-punk vocals and crushing “acid metal” riffs and charting similar territory to Einstürzende Neubauten and early Swans by way of Neurosis and Godflesh.
The album was recorded in 14-hour shifts over 12 days: “We were constantly 100% on it so the process was quite intense but also very rewarding. You can definitely hear that on the record.” On the album’s theme, borne out just as much in their creative approach as it is as the lyrics and instrumentation, they say: “We wanted to write about everything instinctual in mankind, individual desires and true will. Transgression and the seductiveness of unreason.” Unsurprising, then, that The Bestial Light is such a primitive, borderline-depraved affair; one that constantly feels like it’s hurtling towards an edge that you’re never quite sure you want to look over.
Opener ‘Breeding’ utilises disharmony and the created discord at the beginning ranks the tension to the max before the track comes into its fullness. The vocals shift from bleak spoken-word to throat-shredding screams (a theme throughout the album), whilst the instrumentation dissolves from dark, pulsing drones into heavily distorted chaos. ‘Piss Christ’ leans toward the post-punk side of things, with a menacing background accompanied by sung vocals but retains the raw, jagged edges that make sure this is anything but boring. The fast tempo propels the track along and sees it blend into ‘Sacred C*nt Of The Universe’, which the band describe as “a love-song for Venus”). This trance-inducing instrumental piece comes complete with cinematic saxophone and would fit neatly into any film noir soundtrack. Lead single ‘Eden In Reverse’ has an infectious groove that is bound to set feet moving wherever it is heard, this is punctuated by stabs of noise and emotive vocals that strike deep.
Title track ‘The Bestial Light’ represents the duality present in the album, with spoken-word appearing over an ominous, slow-building drone and mesmeric guitar repetition which builds until it takes over and the vocals become buried within the mix, making it feel like two tracks in one; again highlighting duality. Which, (if you know your psychology) conveniently leads into ‘Self’, a track inspired by the ideas of psychoanalyst Carl Jung and occult artist Austin Osman Spare. The band say that “it’s not just about the contradictions of the Self, but also Self-Love. It describes a mental state in which the Ego is able to enter a state of no limitations”. Again, with post-punk influences shining through strongly, this is a track that captures attention quickly and does not let go with its haunting disposition, especially with the lyrical mantra mid-track and to conclude. ‘Pleasure’ see cold toned guitars dualling with the ever present drum beat for dominance, with lyrics that speak of sun worship, whilst concluding track ‘Levelling’ is a song about existentialism, with its monotony that cranks the tension up once more, just like how the album started. The title, if anything misleads, as this track just makes you want to start the album all over again.
This album shows the reincarnation of RMFTM, it takes pieces of their past lives and makes them anew, revitalising the music in a way that you didn’t know was needed. The Bestial Light is raw and abrasive, it will not suit everyone – but that, is the point.