A Bum Trip Reborn

Blissed Psychedelic Freaks Bequeath Skykissing Guitars to Industrial Autopsy Aesthetes

Like the Cabs, Factrix were big on the mistreatment of sound, deploying an arsenal of Eno-like reinventions such as amputated bass, "radioguitar," and "glaxobass," along with tape-loops, exotic percussion, and Multimoog. But as with Methodology, the surprise stand-out aspect of Factrix's Artifact reissue is the most traditional element—Bond Bergland's trippy guitar work, whose keening lead lines are definitely in the West Coast acid-rock tradition, tinged with the angularity of Roxy's Phil Manzanera. On tracks like "Snuff Box (Alternate)" and "Obsession," the guitar billows up in gaseous columns and harrowed arabesques that recall Ashra's Manuel Göttsching—stripped of their New Age serenity. There are non-psych guitar thrills, too: the stumbling lunge-riff on "Theme From NOW!," a distortion-pocked cover of the VU's "Beginning to See the Light." Elsewhere, Factrix's more anti-/un-rock side produces creepy delights like "Phantom Pain," with its pitter-pulse rhythms and poltergeist-like leakage from the etherworld, while the group's merger of metal-bashing and ethnic instrumentation (migh-wiz, doumbek, saz . . . ) sometimes suggests an unlikely merger of SPK and the Third Ear Band.

Cabaret Voltaire needle into your ear canal.
photo: Courtesy Mute Records
Cabaret Voltaire needle into your ear canal.


Cabaret Voltaire
Methodology '74/'78. Attic Tapes;

Storm Records

Factrix started out influenced by TG and CV, but as they evolved they anticipated industrial's next stage, when Psychic TV, Coil, and their ilk embarked on a full-blown magickal-mystery trip. Partial to the occasional mushroom, Factrix talked of wanting to jettison language and escape time—a nakedly psychedelic agenda that Artifact was originally going to honor by containing a sheet of acid-blotter, undipped but perforated using a vintage machine once owned by one of Haight-Ashbury's "acid barons." After Factrix disintegrated, Bergland formed Saqqara Dogs, an overtly transcendental trio centered around his skykissing solos. Cabaret Voltaire, meanwhile, got deeper into dance music (a journey you can follow on 2001's box Conform to Deform '82/'90. Archive;), embracing sequencers and ultimately making a sort of bleak house music—just in time for rave, that other authentic, non-retro reflowering of psychedelia.

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