act 163 · converter · exit ritual · cd
dronr(itual), bloodsex, nightmare machine, cloud eye, in ruins..., order/creature, gateway rite, soulstealer, night swallows day, fallen.
converter's music is oftenly described as 'power noise' - which means, in this case, rhythmic noise. as for 'shock front' this description was spot on. on 'blast furnace', converter added a dark ambient styling to the rhythmic rage; which was quite a surprise for the "hit the dance floor noise addicts". however, this combination worked perfectly. after "expansion" which contained older and brand new material, lots of listeners asked "where does this highway lead to?".
converter's aural universe was always desolate and sometimes threatening. "exit ritual" continues this path but this time around sturgis' uses his nightmarish sound injections in a more subtle way. so, can we still speak of 'power noise'? sure we can !
sturgis intensified the dark mood and slowed down the beats - it also seems that he explored the roots of industrial. just listen to 'in ruins...', a punching, slow loop and harsh metallic clashes which could have been taken right out of an old s.p.k. tune - anyone remember 'leichenschrei'? maybe, the listeners of scandinavian 'death industrial' will also love this cd? for example, the deep drones and foggish vocal samples in 'dronr(itual)'.
yes, this is a rhythmic but listening at home is recommended (for most of the tracks). if you think the entire cd is a 'moody one' then check out 'order/creature' and you will march right into volunteered slavery!
converter still has some hard candy to offer - fasten your seat belts - as you never know where this journey will lead...
ant-zen is proud to present converter's third full-length masterpiece.
discography converter 10.2k3
exit ritual. cd. ant-zen act163. 2003
expansion 1.3. 2x3"cd. ant-zen act 143.3. 2003
expansion pack 1.10. 2x10"vinyl. act 143.10. 2003
erode (w/ asche + morgenstern). cd-ep. ant-zen act123. 2001
firebloom. 12" vinyl. hymen records y026. 2000
blast furnace. cd / boxset. ant-zen act113/act113.1. 2000
coma. 12" vinyl. hymen records y014. 1999
shock front. cd. ant-zen act83. 1999
converter website: www.ant-zen.com/converter
converter is arguably one of the most well-known profiles on german label ant zen recordings as well as on the power noise-scene in general. since the debut "shock front" back in 1999, converter (a.k.a. scott sturgis) has been highly respected for his explorations into the territories between noise/ power electronics and more danceable ebm-oriented industrial. what characterized both the debut and the follow-up album "blast furnace" was the way that converter managed to make harsh electronics almost easy listening music thanks to his catchy rhythmic interventions during the infernal noise-chaos. on his third release scott sturgis has taken an interesting step in his musical development. a step that was already foreshadowed on "blast furnace", with the album's dark ambient approach to power noise. on "exit ritual" the power noise has almost disappeared and the experimentations into dark desolation seems fulfilled. the links back to the early days of industrial are pretty clear with an expression that mostly concentrates on moody atmospheres of subtle noise that never turns really harsh. as said the atmosphere are dark and sinister, almost apocalyptic. in other words: converter has turned extreme in other ways. the use of threatening deep drones is very much similar to the swedish death industrial scene around cold meat industry. people who appreciated brighter death now's less violent and more death ambient-focused "necrose evangelicum" might appreciate converter's musical development especially tracks like "in ruins..." and "dronr(itual)". as the album develops the rhythmic textures appears. for instance does the track titled "cloud eye" sound like a strangely withdrawn version of the opening track on "shock front", titled "conqueror". scott sturgis might loose some hardcore "dance floor noise addicts" with this album since only a few tracks are dedicated to this scene. on the other side newcomers might appear on this one. the album needs some listens before it actually opens. but after that, you might realise that this converter-album probably is the best to date. and that definitely says a lot! (nmp)
i can still remember the first time i heard converter's "blast furnace" album, playing it for the first time on my stereo, cranking the volume up to 50 and completely immersing myself within the layers of crushing beats and ear-piercing noise. that was over three years ago and since then there have been endless clones of that album's formula, with converter becoming a by-word for straight-ahead and often dull rhythmic noise. the fact is that converter was never really either of these, but time and pejorative connotations affect us all, and on "exit ritual", converter's third album for ant-zen, we see this artist effect a dramatic change of pace and direction in his output. this departure from his previous established sound is evidently where the "exit" of the title comes from, as for the "ritual"? one only has to listen to the droning introduction track, or nightmare machine to be taken back to the primal, ritualistic industrial of spk or early neubauten. it would seem that for converter, two steps forward also involves stepping twenty years back. not that this is necessarily a bad thing, nor indeed does it make the cd sound dated. one of the things i always liked about early industrial music was its analogue warmth: the almost infinite range of frequencies it captured, along with the added texture of tape hiss and cable noise. a lot of this has been lost on new digital recordings, making them sound often cold and shallow. through his calculated production methods, however, converter has redressed this situation, often revelling in and embellishing degraded sounds to give the work a distinct depth and character. this is not to say, however, that "exit ritual" is merely a re-hash of the now clichéd origins of industrial music - it merely uses these as a starting point for a new stream of influence, away from straight-ahead techno and into more musicianly realms. this offers quite a few surprises along the way, such as the melodic elements in bloodsex and cloud eye that show a gentler, more reflective side to the act that hearkens to his side-project notime's "living planet" album. there are also the completely atonal and arrhythmic pieces like intro track dronr(itual) or the opening half of in ruins... whose solid drone structure showcase the more experimental and wholly atmospheric areas of the converter sound, giving them finally the prominence they deserved. nonetheless, there are still lingering shadows of the previous converter sound on the album, such as order/creature with its back-and-forth dancefloor rhythm and howling, distorted godzilla sounds. it is a strong, dynamic track, though, and reminds us exactly how much better converter does rhythmic noise over anyone else. full of twists and turns and constantly morphing polyrhythms, it is as intricate and challenging as any of the other pieces on the album. those expecting the rhythmic-noise dancefloor-filling album of the year will be disappointed, yet hopefully also pleasantly surprised. "exit ritual" is by no means another disposable fad album, but an engaging and involved listening experience. taking a "what if..." postulation to its natural and logical conclusion, it shows us a form of music uncorrupted by mainstream and trend-following influences - a pure distillation of industrial. a bold move by both artist and label, it has nonetheless paid off and resulted in a terrific album. not just limited to its sound, the beauty of the album also extends to the fabulous design work by salt with photographs of a damaged car that somehow take on an otherworldly and synthetic quality. taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary certainly seems to be what this album is all about. (gavin lees)
third album by converter, who contrive explorations in rhythmic noise which verge from the punishing extreme to the more downtempo, as on this new release, 'exit ritual'. i must admit to prefer their dark ambient side, even if scott sturgis is at times unable to prevent himself from throwing in a punishing mechanical beat to destroy the introspective ambience of a track such as 'cloud eye'. otherwise the album is, as you would expect, full of abrasive mechanical clanks, roaming around the ruins of a desolate, blustery landscape. the album closes on 'fallen', perhaps the best track, with it's fierce distorted sound barriers and unnervingly creepy vocal samples. this is strictly for the hardcore.
combining the dark ambient sound of blast furnace with the rhythmically heavy shock front we come to the third dose of converter's soundscaping titled exit ritual. dark and intense are two words that are synonymous with converter's sound and this album is no exception. the album opens with "dronr(itual)" which not surprisingly is a five minute excursion into a desolate machine of humming drones spiced with intermittent mechanical clangings. not a bad start. the next track "bloodsex," incorporates a more structured converter, one that would've been most prevalent on shock front. the beats are repetitive and looping but are so perfect for head bobbing trancing out. i have said it before i don't do any illegal drugs, but man i can see how a song like this would lend itself well to such things. "nightmare machine," is another title that is right on with what the track sounds like. this track fuses dark ambient with rhythm noise perfectly. the rhythm part of the track sounds like a conveyer belt that is working down the line on some insidiously evil robot. the ambient bits are slow and abrasive clangs and hums. a perfect mood piece. the whole album can be dissected track by track as each piece of exit ritual has its specific nuances and vibes. this album is great lay back and reflect music as i find my mind wandering with the sounds. i love this album for that reason. it is abrasive enough to be edgy, but not so minimal that what you are listening to sounds like the same noise for 5 to 10 minute stretches at a time. converter still maintains its creative side while keeping with the formula of what brought them to the music scene to begin with. if you are a true noise head then you will appreciate this album for all of its intricacies.
this album is hard to define. a couple of tracks in and i still wasn't convinced i was actually listening to converter. a brilliantly-diverse album with a couple of essential rhythmic noise tracks for the die hard fans. with quite long tracks it makes for a confident, evolving sound. "dronr(itual)" features slow, dark, glitchy electronics with some guitar and synth washes and distorted vocals. reminds me of labelmates vromb. "bloodsex" mixes slow, repetitive dub rhythms with a light synth melody. heavy and densely-packed, without vocals. "nightmare machine" opens with clangs of metal and a barely audible drone. really reminds me of "reolution" from "blast furnace" with the wails and samples. tribal, metallic drumming. slowly additional rhythmic samples brought in, fleshing out the track. quite industrial and primitive. "cloud eye" is light and airy to begin, with spacey electronics (polished)...then straight into the familiar converter hard, pounding, rhythmic noise you were expecting! i can't help but feel this track is actually the track "conqueror" from "broken meat", slightly rehashed, it sounds so similar. "in ruins..." is dense and uncomfortable, with a two-key electronic backdrop. some harsh electronics over and deeply distorted vocals, continuing into some pretty intense, harsh rhythms, getting faster and even more dense. it still holds some rhythmic elements but is not for the faint heated. pounding, brilliant rhythms to end. "order/creature" utilises funky, catchy, rhythmic noise in the way of sonar or hypnoskull and is bound to be a floor-filler (though it has quite a harsh edge to it)."gateway rite" starts off spaced-out; then bouncing electronics over lots of echoed samples. a chilled out track with some quieter moments. "soulstealer" has reverberating, sweeping noise with industrial samples over. it actually reminds me of nin "fixed" - it feels quite spaced out, then dense, rumbling electronics and 'click and glitch' samples. then commences a journey through screeching electronics, dense rumbling, metallic beats, clicks & glitches. the track always threatens to end and is maybe a bit on the long side. "night swallows day" has to be the best track on the album. it begins with a high-pitched drone with harsher electronic washes over but with no real rhythm. reminiscent of inade. then a reverberating rhythm breaks the concentration. the next step up is a densely-packed harsh noise assault with waves of electronic samples over, reverberating and fluctuating. really quite beautiful. the final piece "fallen" involves drones with clicks and bumps and some samples sneak in for a moment then are gone. a strange analogue voice then mid-tempo fluctuating rhythmic electronics and faster erratic metallic samples. other samples find their way in and out. a pretty hectic affair. similar in places to a cut & spliced imminent. strange, trippy female voice to finish. highly recommended! (jlm)
converter returns to the roots of industrial here with a brooding, static-filled, grinding beast of an album. the label's description compares to spk's leichenshrei, and (for once) they are absolutely right: 'exit ritual' is very much a return to the origins of the industrial sound. thus, converter's latest opus represents, at long last, an opportunity for all you rasta-haired, mp3-burning rivetkids to experience what a real fucking industrial release sounds like. in any case, comparing to leichenshrei or information overload unit only tells a small part of tale. sturgis continues to show off his uncanny knack for rhythms on this release with irresistible throbs of pulsating static, syncopated metallic clangs, and intermittent shrieks of horror forcibly coercing the listener into movement. a new, atmospheric converter also begins to appear, especially on the latter tracks, melding swirling atmospherics with more subtle ritualesque rythmic stylings. in the opinion of this reviewer, converter's last release, 'blast furnance' lacked the consistency and power of 'shock front'. 'exit ritual', on the other hand, is an extremely powerful, cohesive release, and, as such, compares very favorably to its predecessor. i wasn't at all convinced that this artist could again put together something with a depth and power rivalling 'shock front' or 'cold', but he unquestionably has here. 'exit ritual' isn't charting any new musical frontiers, it's simply an outstanding and immensely enjoyable industrial release, in the truest sense of the word. essential listening.
 according to what i've read, on his last tour, the artist was asked to sign more burned copies of his cds than real ones. what's wrong with you people? (drew)
nach dem "expansion pack" im februar haben ant-zen und scott sturgis ihr verspechen wahr gemacht und ein neues converter-album veröffentlicht. "exit ritual" ist in vielerlei hinsicht bemerkenswert. converter verlässt langsam aber sicher die gewässer des harten power noise und schifft nun in seichteren, aber genauso stürmischen ozeanen. denn obwohl es nicht in gewohnter manier heftig aus den boxen dröhnt und ein alles übertönender beat herzrhythmusstörungen verursacht, bleibt converter's musik dennoch dem industrial treu. wie der titel des albums schon andeutet, ist ein großteil der songs stark rituell geprägt. scott sturgis wählte diesmal den subtileren und weitaus düsteren weg. wie man es von vielen bands und projekten des cold-meat-labels her kennt, leben die songs von ihrer atmosphäre und damit von ihrer wirkung auf den hörer. man braucht schon eine weile, um sich an den neuen converter-sound zu gewöhnen. "exit ritual" schafft es, trotz der teils fehlenden aggressivität, einen spannungsbogen aufzubauen. das album beginnt mit "dronr(itual)", einem finsteren song mit oszillatoren-ähnlichem brummen und mysteriösen sprachsamples, der gänzlich ohne beat auskommt. "bloodsex" stampft sich dagegen seinen weg zum hörer, auch wenn der rhythmus wesentlich langsamer ist, als man es von converter gewohnt ist. die songs "cloud eye", "in ruins..." und "order/creature" spielen dagegen noch weitestgehend in der power-noise-liga. die ersteren beiden wirken fast zerstörerisch, so als ob converter hier die geballte ladung an dynamik und power auf einmal verpulvern will. doch schon "gateway rite" kehrt zum death industrial zurück und mit "soulstealer" wird es dann ebenso düster wie schizophren. in der mitte des songs erwartet einen ein markerschütternder schrei, der fast 40 sekunden anhält und einem das blut in den adern gefrieren lässt. es scheint fast so, als ob sich converter noch nicht vollkommen von seinen wurzeln lösen konnte oder wollte. das führt dazu, dass "exit ritual" ein sehr abwechslungsreiches industrial-album geworden ist, das viele fassetten dieses genres abdeckt bzw. streift. alles in allem ein sehr überraschendes album, das vor allem viel platz für interpretationen für die musikalische zukunft von scott sturgis/converter zulässt.
dang it, that sturgis kid has done it again. while with the expansion release of old and new outtakes i thought he was at his wits' end with rhythmic noise, exit ritual positively surprised me. the style has in my humble opinion long run its course. i wasn't really looking forward to another converter installment. apparently, scott sturgis agrees and with exit ritual he presents his answer to the dilemma. simply slow down the aggression, but make it more corrosive and dense in the process. exit ritual is the best thing he's released under the converter moniker and if the title is any hint, it would be a grandiose last yelp for others to measure up to that were to come after him. blend cold meat death industrial with expansive, moody dark ambient, spread this mixture all around midtempo distorted beats and you got one relentless head-nodding feast. a grating sluggish giant, not quite conscious yet and groggily staggering towards you. this whole subdued aggro thing has always gotten to me (just think scar tissue, ggfh, apparatus, early electronicat). way more infectious than head-on blasts, especially if there's a catchy little melody involved like on "bloodsex." seething, boiling turmoil under the surface, not quite exposed, but already braced for impact. exit ritual offers two violent stabs at old tactics in the metallic "cloud eye" and the bouncy "order/creature," but what makes this album stand out, is the catacumbal/ferric oxide quality, the dense desolation and ever advancing slow beat. great stuff. (till)
de nieuwe converter release nadat in februari al "expansion pack" verschenen was. scott sturgis neemt op deze nieuwe schijf iets meer afstand van de powernoise en de beats zoals hij dat gebruikte op voorgaande releases. de muziek is nog even duister en spannend, maar wel wat ingetogener dan voorheen. toch blijft deze plaat bij ieder nummer verrassen en steken ze allemaal ongelooflijk knap in elkaar. soms wordt een langzaam stuwend ritme dat steeds meer aanzwelt begeleid door een enkele subtiele klank waardoor er een lichte groove met een melodietje ontstaat zoals op "bloodsex", op andere momenten krijgen de hersenen van de luisteraar een overdaad aan klanken en ritmes te verwerken. er zijn een paar nummers die nog in de buurt van de powernoise komen, te weten: 'cloud eye', 'in ruins...' en 'order/creature'. de algehele tendens op deze cd echter is dat de muziek een stuk meer ritueel klinkt, soms haast tegen de death industrial aan zoals op "gateway rite" en daarmee krijgt converter meer aansluiting bij bands van bijvoorbeeld het cold meat industry label. in "soulstealer" zit een zeer angstaanjagend bloedstollend gekrijs halverwege het nummer. iets dat goed past bij de beklemmende sfeer in veel van de nieuwe nummers. al met al is deze converter cd een aangename verrassing, vele facetten van het industrial-noise genre worden op deze nieuwe cd bediend en daarmee blijft het nu gissen welke kant scott sturgis met volgende releases op zal gaan. grote klasse deze schijf! (teknoir)
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