Ever since hearing the fierce debut of DJ Rabies, Kick a Skinhead in the Face, I have become increasingly enamoured with the work of Zak Roberts. Moving from the razor-edged punk-attitude hardcore of DJ Rabies to the textural breakcore of Cdatakill (or Cassandra Datakill), his works have always carried a very distinct and personal aesthetic, making them some of the most interesting and exciting in the genre.
This latest release on Ad Noiseam is no exception. A mammoth work, his longest to date, spanning 11 tracks: it moves away from the thudding bass drums of his vinyl releases and weaves a more intricate tapestry of assorted breaks, gritty noise, melodic synths and dense, ambient atmospheres. Also, as a bonus, this release includes his long out-of-print CD for Eupholus, Brazilian Nightmare: a strangely mellow release that plays up on the melodious side of Roberts’ work.
Hot-wiring itself into motion with Vodka Spitter, Paradise begins as it means to go on with a liquid, rolling bass that goes straight for the intestines, before erupting into a colossal mix of rhythmic noise, broken beats and angelic choir samples. It is a truly euphoric sound that goes beyond the dancefloor to inducing a state of total wonder at the sounds that are flowing through your ears. Immediately it is obvious that this is beyond anything that we have heard from Cdatakill before and is about to shatter all our preconceptions.
The musical juggernaut shifts through many gears; relaxing into cut-up trip-hop on Powerlines Song, flirting with hip-hop on Resting in Paradise and slipping into nitro-fuelled junglism on Nina Milla Meta. Although these early tracks enthuse us with their frantic beats and up-tempo basslines, as the album progresses the music grows gradually more introspective with further delicate, layered melodies and lighter, airy rhythms. Indeed, the final couplet of tracks, Take Us Out of the Dark and Moment in the Sun reach sheer ambience in places and often avoid breakbeats in favour of smaller, more involved, ethnic percussion. The sun-soaked tone of the closing track is even enriched by some splendid synthesized didgeridoo…but no stylophone, sadly.
These 11 original tracks are further augmented by the inclusion of three remixes, peppered throughout the album. The first comes from Somatic Responses, who take classic track Cabrini Green and meld it into a jolting drums and noise groove, injecting some industrial attitude into the Cdatakill ethos; Tarmvred then takes on Vodka Spitter and distils it down to a straight-ahead rhythmic exercise and, finally, we have Detritus’ take on Nina Milla Meta, drawing out its orchestral influence and lifting the track into a frantic, hellish symphony that leaves deep, emotional scars.
From these inexorable rhythmic works, we are then tossed into an abyss devoid of beats and abundant in dark, heavy atmospherics. This is Brazilian Nightmare: a brooding, satanic work filled with drones, infernal samples and mournfully discordant instrumentation. It is embryonic in its concept, placing the emphasis more on an engaging, thoughtful listening experience, which evolved through rhythm into the pensive new album, a Paradise Lost to Paradise Regained. This re-pressing of the album also includes three new remixes of miscellaneous tracks from the Eupholus roster. Matt Demmon brings his characteristic psychedelic manipulations and beats to the twisted groove of Nina Milla Meta; Jason Snell kicks some monolithic beats and bass into old favourite, Nothing Can Damn My Soul while Stick splices Vodka Spitter and Powerlines Song together with a healthy dose of glitch and processing to produce a suitably dizzying close to this intense headfuck of an album.
Long-time fans of Cdatakill will undoubtedly lap up this double helping of sonic confectionary, whilst newcomers to his work should find themselves captivated by this prolific, talented artist and this album, his undisputed opus. Genius.