New York City industrial / electronic music.
Our take: Media Burn is the debut from Totem, a solo project by Jason Halal, whom you might know from his time drumming in 86 Mentality or singing for Neo-Cons. Totem, however, is something different: an instrumental project that pulls from industrial and electronic music traditions. The only connection I can draw to (what I know of) Jason’s musical background is the opening track, “Em Dash,” whose intertwining polyrhythms could only have sprung from the mind of someone who has spent a lot of time thinking about drums. While “Em Dash” reminds me of how African Head Charge integrated tribal-sounding polyrhythms into their music, “Bug Trap” has a glitchy, industrial sound, “Snag” brings in a new wave groove (sounding like early Nine Inch Nails without the vocals and pop elements), and the EP closes with “Untitled (Media Burn),” whose cavernous, reverb-drenched sounds end the record on a cold, isolated note. Structurally, rather than being composed of discrete parts, these songs flow and progress in the manner of trance-y electronic music, the steady, pulsating backbeat rarely interrupted. This isn’t a genre of music I know much about, but I find the combination of grimy textures and danceable rhythms here irresistible.