Bettendorf’s resident freak-noise-slash-post-rap industrial producer/vocalist VoidDweller has been trolling our eardrums with their aggro strain of free-for-all genre-mashing psychosis for a minute now, but the charmingly titled cum is probably their most fully formed and ultimately “complete” release to date.
The album pushes their sound in totally unexpected directions at the drop of a hat, veering between nü-metal-esque passages that feature wailing vocal lines, to brooding noise segments flecked with peals of feedback and monotone spoken-word poetry, to technoid breakdowns with complex electronic drum arrangements. Album opener “cummin in all sorts of cool ways” (nice) sets the tone for the entire project with its ridiculous vocal samples, double-time drum beatdowns, and wonderfully vulgar lyrics that include a great Mitch McConnell diss too obscene to print in these pages. Just when you think the track has reached its climax (heh), VoidDweller amps up the technicality factor and kicks into a passage that sounds like something from an early Dillinger Escape Plan album, with rapidly fluctuating time signatures and blasts of staccato, atonal guitar. The sum total is something like modern mind-boggling electro-assault projects such as Machine Girl, a comparison amplified by VoidDweller’s penchant for shifting vocal styles that position them as a clear frontperson against their own productions. Perhaps unsurprisingly, cum features lyrics that are not for the faint of heart, and while the more aggressive shouted passages typically feature vocals distorted beyond the point of comprehension, VoidDweller makes sure you understand every twisted line clearly in the moments when they decide to go full Bloodhound Gang and just straight-up speak the lyrics in an affectless tone and rhythms that loosely conform to the beats.
For every moment that lands closer to some corrupted form of pop music, there’s another experiment that has no qualms in going full-on noise. “hyperbolic feeling chamber / reach around” seems to cram an improbable number of ideas and touchstones into its roughly two-minute run time, and serves as a nice encapsulation of the variety of VoidDweller’s many contrasting inspirations. The track kicks off with a classic hip-hop break that fights against a layer of noise and spoken-word samples that proclaim “I feel like shit.” (Don’t we all?) But after only a few seconds, the beat’s tempo cuts in half and we’re left with a pitched-down, DJ Screw-esque stumble, which immediately gives way to a harsh, junkyard noise passage consisting of what sounds like someone smashing against giant sheets of metal. What better way to cap off this track than the sudden introduction of a hardcore punk beatdown, and what better way to cap off that hardcore punk beatdown than with a blast of double-kick drum in the grindcore style? There are too many highlights on cum to fully explicate, and so many ideas blast into your skull at such a rapid pace that it feels like you’re flipping from station to station on a radio, except every station you land on features some weirdo ranting about some terrifying, deviant topic (which, now that I think about it, isn’t too far from real life).