derTANZ are Árpád Gulyás (bass), Ákos Tornyos (drums), and Gábor Kovács (vocals). They play harsh, minimalist music with a bleak cynical attitude, addicted to distorted bass guitar sounds, and broken drums as well as analog electronics, influenced by the chaotic post punk of The Birthday Party, the tribal rhythms of the Swans, the abstraction of Scott Walker, the noise-rock of the Jesus Lizard, or the free jazz hallucinations of Moonchild.
Their debut album, Kaktusz in April came out last month and was recorded live during a two day session in an empty, post-socialist community house of a small Hungarian village, Érsekvadkert. The final result is a grotesque psychedelic trip, an inner country site dressed into drones and noises.
Clearly, Hungary has featured a lot in my recent Dandelion Radio shows, but if you're expecting something along the lines of the raw punk attack of compatriots like Mudpie or Fake Shakes (the latter also feature in my show this month), then expect again. The fifty minutes of this collection surges and falls like a gigantic rollercoaster, combining passages of nerve-shredding speed with slowed down interludes are no less powerful.
It's all about the energy, and again by that I don't mean an undiluted power barrange. The consistent menace about the collection comes from its undulating variety. It's as if the early-Ruts quake of opener 'A Statue' shreds itself and into a big-bang scatter, populating the rest of the collection like some Babel-like diffusion of chaos. The sinister voice-over that kicks off 'Terror Mirror Terror' comes on like Vincent Price backed by early PiL at their sparsest, building into a violent barrage underpinned by a rumbling bass line that's one of the few omnipresent elements in this diverse catalogue of aggressiveness.
'The Trap' (which features in my May show on Dandelion Radio) may initially resemble 'Holiday in Cambodia' but the similarities are soon dissipated as the bass drum comes in and a shrill siren of a guitar fizzes like a looming Molotov cocktail behind the vocals. The energy of 'Waveforms of the Dirt' is more like that of Sisyphus trailing his rock with a purpose, raising a defiant finger to Thanatos. This is a band that glories in its immense burden, transforming it into heavy layers of monstrous, delightful sound.
But it doesn't need to be intellectualized. What we have here is visceral, its energy diffused throughout the collection but never reduced. Behind it lies a deft craftmanship, the art almost of an avant film maker weaving his tales in sound. Fittingly, the album's longest track, The Garden', is like a horror novella recorded in soundtrack-only form, with a extreme temporal variety that, like that rollercoaster, slows almost to a deathly stop in passages and builds to dramatic barrages of noise in others.
You can pick up a copy of the album for just $1 at the band's bandcamp site. It's become a feature of my reviews to consider how the truly rewarding often costs so little, but this collection and this band illustrate that better than most.