There’s something rather enjoyable about listening to progressive rock or post-rock. It allows you the perfect opportunity to relax for about 45 minutes or so and let the dynamics and tones unravel into some wonderful and meticulously constructed album-long piece.
But in recent times the guitars have gotten more distorted, the beats have become crunchier and it’s finally turned into one long giant moshpit. A fine example of this would be the brilliant Watershed by Swedish progressive metallers Opeth. They managed to turn something on paper scoffable into something spine-crushingly brutal and savage.
It’s fair to say though that 2 Degrees Of Separation, by Italian industrial rock/post-rock/noise rock duo Deflore, doesn’t quite reach those heights of greatness. This is a band whose roots are firmly planted in the underground. Their original conquest when they started in 1999 was to make ‘human industrial’ music and Christian Ceccarelli and Emiliano Di Lodovico have apparently been gaining in popularity on the underground scene across Europe, making two albums and a string of compilation appearances. This is their third release and is described as “six trips inside the sick minds of Deflore”.
Coincidentally, all six ‘trips’ have the same sort of pattern to them: ‘CHUG-CHUG-CHUG-CHUG-CHUG’. For 40 minutes. There’s no real substance or individuality about it. It’s a bit of a downer, such are the frustration levels it induces. The album’s shortest track Electropause, at three minutes and 49 seconds, is just tribal machine-beating. There’s no attempt to develop this sound into something truly vicious and destructive; instead we get the sense that it’s not so much a song as a couple of people trying to beat the living daylights out of drums as a form of stress release.
To say this album is simplistic and quite straightforward would be blunt, but it’s unfortunately also rather accurate. Doppiozero and Trilogy Of Gas are both long-winding, drawn out pieces of music that just don’t thrill in the way they’re meant to. What you’d hope for is an extra dimension and true ambition to shine through, but it feels like Deflore are stuck in first gear, unable to get going properly and breezing through on auto-pilot. As such, there is no real desire to keep on listening to see if the album is ‘a grower’.
Metal and progressive music can combine into something quite marvellous, but this isn’t it. 2 Degrees Of Separation is asking of a lot from the listener; if this is what ‘human industrial’ is supposed to sound like – and it’s arguable that the name of the genre itself isn’t entirely reflective of what’s on offer here – then it’s quite possibly no wonder that it hasn’t broken through the underground. Not because people are not interested, but because it’s not a good representation. This is a record on cruise control that isn’t even trying.