Let’s start this off by stating unequivocally that I love Frontline Assembly and, in my eyes, they can do no wrong. I’ll take this even further and add that the Artificial Soldier, Fallout, and Improvised Electronic Device era, from 2005 to 2010, was by far my favourite in a long, rich discography – and I am positive this was due in some part to the work of Jeremy Inkel, who was something of a legend in industrial, EBM and electronic music on the North American continent until his unfortunate passing in 2018.
His legacy, however, lives on – not just in his collaborations with the aforementioned Canadian legends, but also with the likes of Left Spine Down, Ministry, Revolting Cocks, Noise Unit, Delerium and many more as both a studio and live artist – but also in the form of Hijacker, his posthumous solo album. And it’s that delicious slab of electronica that’s under review here: a multifaceted, experimental and deeply personal selection from his musical archive.
A touching tribute from Artoffact Records, set to Inkel’s “Lucid”.
At first glance (or whatever the aural equivalent should be – possibly an earprick?) this is not an album to take lightly. It’s a heavily layered, highly abstract listening experience that teeters closer to the progressive brink of IDM than the dancefloor-oriented accessibility of EBM. The complexity of the arrangements recall Inkel’s primary output, Frontline Assembly, most effectively but it’s the more avant-garde approached he employed that give Hijacker its own unique flavour.
And it’s this unique profile that is really what calls for celebration: there have been many ‘solo’ outings from EBM and industrial producers that I’ve enjoyed over the years (Icon of Coil’s multiple side projects – from Moonitor to Komor Commando to Northborne to DJ Scandy – all are examples of this) but by and large, these don’t deviate too much from the expected grain of the artists’ more established projects. Jeremy Inkel took this rulebook and threw it out the window, however. While his influences are abundantly clear, ranging from acid jazz meandering to distorted rhythmic noise to simplistic Nitzer Ebb-like dancefloor beats, Hijacker weaves these disparate skeins of music into a believable, authentic and expressive tapestry.
It isn’t all outwardly expressive, though. While tracks like “WAYVY” show real dancefloor sensibilities, replete with builds, breaks and brassy hooks, this is balanced by introspective exercises in tension like the hugely atmospheric “Haunted House.” And these are themselves balanced out by rhythmic experiments along the lines of “Robot Bitches” and “Bounce.”
Artoffact was also kind enough to share a full album stream.
Because of this wide range of sounds and styles in constant flux, isolating individual cuts becomes difficult: Hijacker works best as a holistic entity. Even though single tracks have standout moments, the ones that really leave an impression are the more obvious narrative inspirations (“House Party on Day 2,” “She Wore Blue Lipstick,” “Small Towns Bad Decisions”) as they undoubtedly carry a much deeper, more human story – and one that paints a rich image of Jeremy Inkel’s life as a musician. Hijacker is a profound testament to this life and an energetic posthumous celebration thereof.
Hijacker Track Listing:
2. House Party on Day 2
3. Robot Bitches
5. Haunted House
7. She Wore Blue Lipstick
8. I Don’t Need Your Money
11. Small Towns Bad Decisions
12. Take That
Run Time: 1:11:07
Release Date: November 6, 2020
Record Label: Artoffact Records