Hailing from Ljubljana in Slovenia the duo of Pika Golob and Lucijan Prelog describe themselves as “Too hardcore for the electro kids, too electro for the hardcore kids.” This may prove a bit of a quandary for some listeners but it makes little difference for me as ‘Heaven Is An Empty Room’ has proven a pretty damn good and formidable listen since it arrived at the tail end of the year. Apparently due to the political climate they decided to shelve original recordings and went back to the drawing board with this being the result. It certainly has an agitated feel no doubt spurred by discontent and the result has possibly made it all the harder and more abrasive for it.
‘Patterns’ melodically broods in and breaks into a hellish slab of electronic noise with plenty of vocal distemper to the musical aggro on display. I am reminded a bit of Atari Teenage Riot and it’s a mighty opening statement as it builds to a shattering climax with Pika absolutely belting her parts out. From here ‘The Truth About Mirrors’ allows her to add some more sultry parts to things as it simmers away with a little less urgency about it. Beguiling and mesmerising it draws you in and has plenty of ballast to its electronic backbone, rising dramatically and venomously spitting you out after a mere couple of minutes. The pair keep their songs fairly compact and play around with your emotions and moods, playing as both tempters into their musical cosmos and ultimately as executioners when they set things on fire and go for the throat. The electro-clash of ideas has elements of others but remains unique throughout, there’s a bit of a Nine Inch Nails experimentation about the music itself but its Pika’s imposing angry yells shouting out phrases like “Erase Us” with vicious hate behind them that really had me taking note here. At times you get caught right out and never know quite what is going to come next, a perfect example is a violent minute of white noise in the form of ‘Nineteenninteyfive’ Dark and very cold synth-wave twists around numbers like ‘The Joke Is On The Sun’ sounding like Gary Numan in the midst of a particularly horrible nightmare. There’s an almost poppy chorus in it though just as you are about to submit to total darkness, the contrast working particularly well.
Over on the B) side, the dark tripped out poetry of ‘Caterpillar Dream’ goes from soothing to violent with the lyrics taking hold via forceful delivery and the musical clamour slowly but harshly booming out. The title track sees the pair clattering away like an out of control robot, drums tribally rolling and vocals ranting in a fashion that reminds a bit of defunct but not forgotten home-grown act Leech Woman. There loads of dark energy about it all as well as dense melody with everything hitting particularly hard about it. The mantra like delivery of ‘Sleep Is So Cruel’ again has a real nightmarish vibe about it as it tosses and turns in delirium giving little in the way of respite or rest. ‘Lone’ tells a apocryphal tale like some sort of abstract Sonic Youth number as Pika narrates and then it’s through to final piece ‘Fourth Wave’ a more vitriolic and hopeful number compared to much of the musical bleakness before it.
There’s stacks going on here, more surprising when you realise that the album is under half an hour in length. Any electro or hardcore kids dismissing this want to go back to it with a fresh set of ears as ‘Heaven Is An Empty Room’ proved a devilish listening experience that kept drawing me back for another fix.
(8/10 Pete Woods)