Author & Punisher
Melk En Honing
Review by Lee Newman
Author & Punisher is industrial music in the literal sense: the project centers on musician and engineer Tristan Shone’s meticulously handcrafted noise machines. Seen live, Shone is a cyborg, engulfed by a dense ring of steel mechanics that swallow his hands, cover his face and wrap around his neck. It is a tactile project, with Shone’s motions triggering sounds, and his vocals warped by equipment that picks up the vibrations of his vocal cords or changes in air pressure. As fellow Seattle PA writer Dustin Carroll described it, Author & Punisher “is like watching a dude be choked to death by machines.”
As you can imagine, Author & Punisher sounds cold, metallic and unforgiving. It feels like taking off your noise-cancelling headphones in a factory for wartime machinery. It feels like crawling inside a car crusher and letting it compact you: metal against metal, slamming, scraping, screeching. A track or so into Melk En Honing, Shone sings “some of my favorite things are vicious things” – a fitting mission statement for Author & Punisher as a whole.
However, Melk En Honing (translates from Dutch to Milk & Honey), sees Shone embrace the human side of his man-machine meld more than he has on previous releases. Instead of interring himself in layers of static, Shone’s vocals are at the forefront of this album, clearly human. A protégé of Phil Anselmo, Shone echoes the former Pantera frontman’s swaggering delivery on “Cauterize”, with vocals that could almost be dubbed over Cowboys From Hell and sound at home. It’s the same on “Shame” and “Future Man” both of which play with major-key harmonies that are almost poppy despite their brutal backdrops, a far cry from the artificially strangled wail that has previously been Shone’s signature.
Still, Melk En Honing serves up the robotic realness we expect, with plenty of churning stomp beats, seasick droning, and surgically precise rhythmic bombardments. These songs are uniformly lengthy, and start to drag at points, feeling a little bit like Shone has put himself on cruise control. However, given the insane attention to detail that goes into crafting such a project, it’s hard to think of Melk En Honing as anything but a triumph.
Melk En Honing comes out on June 30th on Housecore Records. Sample it here:
Read Lee’s interview with Author & Punisher from 2014 right here.