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American Porn Songs

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Album Review

Sometime between the release of 2007's FullBlackHabit and this 2009 effort, Eric Powell — the man who is 16 Volt — uploaded his back catalog to the Net, offering it for free. It was a perfectly 16 Volt move, one that followed in the footsteps of Nine Inch Nails' subversive Internet marketing, although Powell's whole-shebang strategy was different enough that it wasn't a carbon copy. It's also a metaphor for the sound of 16 Volt in that Powell doesn't rip Nine Inch Nails and the other industrial regulars off, but anyone familiar with Pretty Hate Machine, Stabbing Westward, or early Pitchshifter will find American Porn Songs familiar territory. Guitars crunch, drum machines pound, while Powell shouts and spews lyrics like "Useless and easy/So worn out and had/Shallow and evil/Infected and mad." Thing is, everything on the album sounds genuinely inspired, coming straight from Powell's ever-blackening heart as if it just needed to get out. Little bits of glitch and razor-sharp arrangements once again prove Powell's a true studio wiz, and like all 16 Volt albums, APS is a well-arranged journey, flowing like it should with a textured instrumental stuck on the end. The hate is amped up and aggressiveness pushes many songs just short of the breaking point, so APS is identifiable from the other 16 Volt full-lengths, plus it's arguably Powell's most cohesive album to date, sticking with the "America's screwed" theme and pointing mostly out rather than in. Welcome guests like Steve White (KMFDM), Tim Skold (Marilyn Manson), and frequent collaborator Mike Peoples help to enhance the onslaught. It's worth noting that Powell's space bar has been fixed, making American Porn Songs look more suitably serious than LetDownCrush or SuperCoolNothing.

Biography

Formed: 1988

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Basically the one-man studio project of Eric Powell with other members added mostly for live shows, 16 Volt combines the two main thrusts of '90s industrial music — electronics and guitars — in surprisingly equal amounts on several albums for Re-constriction Records. The son of a record executive, Powell became interested in music early on, and formed 16 Volt in 1988. While shopping his demos several years later, he met up with a college-radio music director who agreed to release the...
Full bio
American Porn Songs, 16Volt
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