Back in February, the ever prolific sound experimenter Gridfailure released his most haunting and dismal recording to date, Irritum. Crafted solely by creator David Brenner, Irritum is comprised of 13 tracks that sound like they were culled from the most disturbing nightmares imaginable. Fans of Nurse With Wound, Scott Walker and various anxieties will want to take note.
To better understand Irritum‘s creation and the inner workings of this madman, we reached out to Brenner who agreed to give us a rundown of the album piece by piece. Check it out after the break.
“Aspirations Of A Hammer Killer”
The intro to the Irritum album, a recurring nightmare of swarming loops, feedback vortexing, hammerswings, racing pulse.
Vocals, field recordings, synth, keyboard, drums/percussion, screeching electronics. Off-kilter rhythms and nauseating outcomes.
Again It strikes. Shoot awake in panic.
Reality is fleeting, or perhaps I never had it.
How could you expect anything else
Considering how I rest
That night, out back, for no reason
The hammer drops upon random flesh
Never forgetting this hallucination
This conceived recollection, or so I think
Remains continually fresh
There are a few instances of song-to-song interplay on Irritum; the most apparent is the track “Internalizing” right away early in the record and “Externalizing” next to last on the album. The simplistic acoustic guitar chug you hear on “Internalizing” has a more melodic and fleshed-out version of the same riff beneath it, which breaks out at the end of the song. This is the same riff that rides in the forefront of “Externalizing.”
Vocals, CSX field recordings, Fender acoustic/electric, analog drum machine, keyboard, plenty of gross pedal effects dirges.
Clenched, writhing again, seething with rancor.
Watching it all pour down the drain.
Tied myself to a sinking anchor
The only forgiveness is enduring this pain.
Resentment so thick you can slice with rusted blade
Explosive tension rapidly ignites.
Unrelenting confrontational tirades
You wish I died one of those nights.
“It Feeds On Negative Energy”
This song carries a different kind of energy than most of the album. It’s got a bit of a steady, driving beat, and it’s also less densely-overrun with layers, so the vocals stand out a bit more, although they’re still gnarled and buried.
My initial inspiration for the title came from Paranormal Activity, where the homeowners are informed that a demon is present and it ‘feeds off of negative energy.’ I liked the fact that this ominous, supernatural entity physically attacking the family was strengthening itself the actual negativity inside of them. In the world of physics, negative energy is a theory on how the universe’s entire existence could have spawned from nothing, where positive and negative always revert to zero. In that sense, GRIDFAILURE is the force that reverts us all back to nothing when the lights go out in a true meltdown of the world’s power grids.
Also, “we’re making cadaver angels tonight” is fucking creepy.
Vocals, electric guitar, Akai Tom Cat with heavy compression/octave drop, heavy use of the Earthquaker Devices Hummingbird tremolo pedal.
Treat as hostile
Making up for years of stagnation
With a vengeance
This contempt is relentless
As I reverse-engineer everything built here
Live to be improved with you removed
Keep that shovel on standby
I’ll not be right there
It will be here, where my last stand
To make you understand
You’ve got no one left to bury you
We’re making cadaver angels tonight
Posing, tracing, erasing
Followed by an impenetrable silence
“Exorcised From The Possession Of Hope”
I initially made this track for a comp and never heard back from the crew, so I just reworked it for Irritum. It’s mostly layers of vocals, field recordings. It’s from the standpoint of having given up; praying away the last bits of hope, and the acceptance of worthlessness.
Field recordings, theremin, electric guitar, bass, keyboard, violin defacing, contact mic’d Grey Goose bottle, underwater/immersed contact mic percussion, pedal effects, many layers of vocals.
It’s from right here. Irritum.
What is this demon possessing me?
A voice whispering internally
It tells me to run, there is a way out
To trust what it says; bear no doubt
It’s from right here. Irritum.
But reality has this way of reminding
Taking me back; fucking rewinding.
Cast it out. This bit of hope.
End it now. Coil the rope.
It’s from right here. Irritum.
Traumatized, it doesn’t know what to do. It sits and stares. Despondent to the calls.
Birds, winds, grass, layers of mangled xylophone, ambient vocals, sparse effects, no lyrics.
“L’altération Du Sang”
The lyrics for “Grid The Impaler,” which appears several songs later on the record, are translated to broken French for “L’alteration Du Sang.” While I am not fluent in French, I try to create songs in random languages. I am sure it is quite incorrect; blame Google and my lack of knowledge of the language. Spanish, Latin, and more come into play on the next few releases.
Heavy use of my favorite pedal, Earthquaker Devices Afterneath, “Drag” knob drops. Back-alley stabbings, vocals, field recordings, xylophone, drums/percussion, keyboards, vodka, broken results.
Ouvrez les vannes.
Assurez-vous que la lignée se termine ici.
Noyer la douleur. Saigner la haine.
Change le sang. Inonder.
Seul le poison nettoiera et déterminera le vainqueur.
Une fin fluide. Grille L’Empaleur.
Tension increases. Anger accelerates. Response is required.
Vocals, field recordings, bass, analog synth, keyboards, carcinogenic effects, electrocution.
It starts again. It starts again.
“Haze Of Traumatic Recurrence”
The base of this was done in one take; I was looping effects, hitting the Akai Tom Cat, and doing vocals together. It was super creepy, very sloppy. Obfuscate sloppiness with extra layers of madness; further trials and additional auditory dispensation resulted in an abundance of powerdementia. Seething anger surges just below the surface like magma in a volcano; lahars of explosive gases and disintegrated surroundings begin to blaze forth from the subject. Recollections of “Apparitions Revenge” perhaps.
Layers of vocals, electric guitar, bass, analog drum machine, keyboard, harmonica, maracas, xylophone, Electro Harmonix Canyon-Delay & Looper, Herradura, the back-room in Chainsaw Massacre, the mannequins of Tourist Trap, broken equipment, blood mop in the recording chamber.
It starts again, this recurrence of betrayal
Live passes in a grey haze day by day
A hacked and strewn slideshow.
Bits are missing. Frames are missing
So many detrimental parts are gone
Because they never existed
And although we’ve persisted
To get to another level
These thoughts still revel
And remain engrained.
The fact that it all went to shit
And what the fuck I think of it
It’s a punishable offense
Yes, we seek to reprehend
Those who have chosen to offend
The sun has set – another cold night
Another day locked in this place where I’ll die
Fuck this recurrence
“Grid The Impaler”
See “L’Alteration Du Sang” description.
Vocals, Spencer, feedback, bass, keyboard, analog synth, many layers of drums/percussion, more vocals, many pedals, more feedback, more blood mop, glass, more of everything.
Open the floodgates.
Ensure the bloodline ends here.
Drown Pain. Bleed Hate.
Alter the blood. Incinerate. Inundate.
Only poison will cleanse and determine the prevailer.
A fluid-like end. Grid The Impaler.
Blowdryer in the bathtub. Downed-power-line vocals. An electrified backdoor exit.
Layers of bass, drums, keyboards, layers of vocals, add feedback from several sources, maracas/percussion, heavy pedal effects. Zero discernable lyrics.
The barrage of thoughts that flood through a human on the verge of exacting the ultimate revenge. Letting the hatred for your adversaries and yourself overcome rational thought. Not the work of a “deranged lunatic,” just the result of somebody who has snapped. Not that it matters in the brutal aftermath, as the intent has been achieved.
Vocals, electric guitar, many layers of bass, keyboards, analog synth, xylophone, incineration, more vocals, Tito’s and Tommy Guerrero jams between takes.
Sicken myself with these thoughts of intent
Part the seas of my conscience, reality is bent
To sympathy felt, nor a helping hand lent
This deluge of worthlessness will never relent
Days do fade, but slumber will not set in
Nightmare-strewn bursts of restlessness once again
Staring, uncaring, envisioning revenge
Will it all ever fucking end?
Having surrendered all thought of an adequate solution
As everything I’ve attempted has ended in delusion
I yearn so intensely for some sense of retribution
Killing everything around me in search of this conclusion
Blinded by rage. Should I turn back? Perhaps.
My brain burning holes, in my memory remains gaps
Somewhere beyond my control vengeance overlaps
In a momentary lapse I watch everything collapse
This riff is also the main jam for “Externalizing.” The tension builds through “Internalizing” with lots of scathing noise and industrialized sounds, many layers of vocals, and that simple acoustic guitar riff, then explodes on “Externalizing,” which is stripped down to mostly that creepy main acoustic riff and a scathing vocal torrent.
This is the expulsing of unfathomable tension relayed into the furious demise of everything in sight. Retribution through melee. Unhinged manic hatred uncaged. More cadaver angels.
Many layers of near-puke-inducing high-end vox, more CSX field recordings, acoustic/electric guitar, trains, pedals, batshit static, loose connections. Bring the blood mop back in here.
It all just gets fucking worse
I gave up on attempts to replace it
No fighting energy left
Wish I could just become complacent
How far must one go
To reach the end of their rope?
Ask me not
Here I swing, long out of hope
Grieve? I hope.
Through this bullshit, sustenance
Struggling to resist
Fighting off this urge
To end your existence
The barrage of hate
has me at that threshold
Nothing now will stop
Wrath from taking control
Today is worse
Another fucking curse
My disdain I will avenge and
Put you in the dirt
Please, let this action
To which I’ve supplied the reason
A repayment, a reaction
Relieve me of the weight of this treason
And now some choose this day
To grieve for you
Your cadaver angel shall not feel my presence
A human chandelier swings in the dimness. Problem solved. Cut it down when the season is over.
Vocals, bass, wind, contact mic/Zoom B1-born rope sound, violin deconstruction, analog synth, negative energy.
It’s right there
Coiled cord by its side
Never before did I think
It would actually come down to this
But my will has died
My insides like cyanide
Blood boils from deep in mind
This simple solution
Will give you time to rewind and kiss me goodbye
Dangling alongside the garland
Another dangling decoration
A commemoration of this engulfing depression
Drained of all drive
Devoid of all hope
Gaze upon this conclusion
At the end of its rope