Last Language is German Army’s third LP in 2013, coming after more than a dozen releases since 2011 on a range of imprints. With prior releases, the anonymous, Los Angeles-based post-industrial/dark-wave duo has invited labels to assemble albums and cassettes from groups of interconnected recordings. Last Language is the first of their releases designed track-by-track to function as a single album, assembled specifically for Portuguese imprint A Giant Fern by anonymous masked mainstay X and his anonymous masked keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist, affectionately known here as Y.
The layered facade of post-modern cognition explored so well by their prolific discography appears chiseled by a more stringent approach, an unwilted offering that — in spite of its edge — preserves a disarming provocativeness. Conceived and recorded at night, as with many German Army concepts, the album pulls together all the dystopic themes of previous releases into a more singular statement about the exigencies of human perception. Steeped variously in layers of reverb, drone, or effects, the indeterminacy of their production and mixing reflects at all times the fragility of constructed narratives, interlocking loops and synth sequences sometimes only leading tenuously into one another.
Last Language conjures an immersive, dreamlike state and aided by the descriptive nature of its spoken elements, it weaves a responsive range of shifting tones and beats, emerging convoluted and fragmented, as if distantly placed. Its animus emerges through echoing synth channels and chained rhythmic patterns, with spoken word vocals and the periodic intrusion of glossolalic utterances, the album cuts straight to the heart of uncertainty. It isn’t all anxiety, though it may seem so on tracks like “Basket,” with its invented language and heavy, stuttered beat, or with the disembodied call and response of “Lost in a Canyon” and the unrelenting, shambolic progress of “Boiled Flesh.” Others leave room to explore more desirable topics, like resolution, of all things. “Communion with Form” is an early standout and exemplary instance of just how beautiful the result can be when the duo focuses heavily on their own, distinct structural outlook, and for one of the album’s bigger downers, “Major Outlet”— inspired by a bad trip to San Bernardino — the tone stays surprisingly airy. To some extent, that dual nature is illustrative of the band.
Derived in part from meditations on mediocrity, the no-wave inflected output of German Army is both a purgative for its anonymous proprietors, and anyone else that feels a coercive presence at work in their world.
Dwight Pavlovic / X / Carlos Costa
1. Basket (4:51)2. Fortified Ground (2:36)3. Rebuild the Story (2:54)4. Communion with Form (2:35)5. Major Outlet (2:58)6. Smoked Voice (3:35)7. Lost in a Canyon (3:04)8. Economic Diet (5:05)9. Boiled Flesh (1:40)10. Gloomed (3:46)