Trust No One (Slipdisc)
by Doug Sery
Having lived in the semi-urbanity of Boston, with its almost palpable sense of East-coast superiority (difficult to justify considering its close proximity to New York City), and San Francisco, where the musical flavors du jour are measured in minutes, it’s at times easy to forget that there is a fairly large gulf between the two coasts. Within that gulf lies a very hot and dry section commonly known as the Southwest. Having lived there, also, I know whereof I speak, and it is most assuredly not conducive to leather and the usual accoutrements associated with the industrial music scene. So, it came as no small surprise to slip Phoenix, AZ’s N17 Trust No One into my CD player and find myself rewarded with an impeccable impersonation of Ministry.
I’m not kidding about this (the heat, that is). I once spent a week in Tempe (for the geographically impaired, the distance between Tempe and Phoenix can be traveled in the time it takes to find an impeachable Arizona governor), where 95% of that time was spent underneath the surface of a hotel swimming pool, my only connection between the water’s blissful coolness and the infernoesque landscape awaiting above me being a straw which by week’s end had developed a umbilical relationship to the frozen margaritas kindly placed poolside by the soon-to-die-of-skin-cancer hotel staff.
The idea of an industrial band emerging from the sandstorm that is Arizona gives credence to the boundary-breaking influence of institutions like MTV. The question arises, though, whether the powers that be at MTV have given thought to the imminent lawsuits due them as an increasing number of deaths can be attributed to heatstroke brought about by wearing chainmail and leather in 113-degree heat. This is going to make the cigarette industry’s recent travails look like a weak episode of The People’s Court.
However, leaving aside for the moment my concern regarding the life-span (and I don’t mean that in a career sense) of an industrial band in a non-industrial environment, N17 should find themselves welcome in the more forge-oriented environs of Chicago, Düsseldorf, and Detroit… well, maybe not Detroit, but you get the idea. Eschewing the mechanistic and tool-oriented approach of industrial noise-mongers Einstürzende Neubauten in favor of a more metal-based approach (as quickly evidenced by their overdriven dual-guitar wall of sound), their debt to Ministry is apparent from the get go, with the opening seconds of “Grip” sounding suspiciously like “Just One Fix.” But why quibble? Jourgenson hasn’t been above borrowing a few things along the way himself, and N17 (with the help of producer Neil Kernon) has created a powerful and disturbing full-length debut, replete with the now-standard samplings and screams. With lyrics exploring territory similar to a lot of Goth and industrial bands (i.e., wasted lives, inner hate, insanity), N17 probably won’t find itself playing bar mitzvahs anytime soon, but it should make nice background music for an S/M video, which, if I’m to believe one interview I read, should be soon coming to pass.
Derivative though this music may be, you can’t deny its efficacy. After repeated episodes of the chorus from “Version 1.2,” I feel as though a seed has been planted in my brain and its growth is exerting pressure against my cerebral cortex. It’s ninety-degrees out. I’m wearing a leather jacket and biker boots. Where the hell are my handcuffs?