Empty Editions is pleased to present the debut 12” from mysterious electronic outfit Taibach. Conceptualized by ABCs, Taibach has emerged from the shadows as a blunted East-Asian historical consciousness failing to return home after becoming a stranger to itself. With a nom de guerre which references both the infamous Slovenian proto-industrial group Laibach and their mythologized homeland of Taiwan, Taibach restages the classic thematics and aesthetic strategies of industrial music for a contemporary moment in which shifting balances of power between east and west herald new hegemonies and exhume old grievances. Their martial approach to electronics follows in a brood of decidedly cryptic underground music: drawing on the sound of classic industrial bands, early 90s techno, and more recent developments at the intersection of noise and rhythmic music. Conditions of escalating ethno-nationalism, imperialist ambition and decay, and historical revisionism within the Sinosphere provide the backdrop for the band’s grimly expansive theatrics, which hint at the possibility of ideological resistance through tactical sign play and subversive affirmation. Acting as a necessary corrective to a commercially bloated and self-satisfied Asian cultural sphere, Taibach embraces futile Taiwan-based nationalism by celebrating the seldom-criticized reactionary tendencies of the region as a document of its history and its current political impasses.
Taibach’s debut LP contains a rawness and intensity that excels in club contexts, spilling over into more varied strands of experimental and underground music. While the music itself is primed for big room sound systems, the omnivorous use of guitar, effects pedals, and sampling techniques alongside stalwart drum programming also allow for more intimate listening—soundtracking both club depravity and solitary walks in equal measure. The kosmische proto-electro bite of Side A opener “Spicy Test” furnishes a terse blueprint for Taibach’s aural vocabulary: skeletal drums brought deliberately into the red provide a burnt, metallic underpinning to the record’s five tracks. Across the LP, rhythm is complemented by asymmetric washes of tape hiss, feedback, and filtered voices which ride alongside the drum patterns. Tracks “You Are Shit!” and “Enemy Inside” carve out wide expanses for filtered chords and sequenced synths to reflect against uncoiling rhythms. Astute listeners will discern a long engagement with UK, European, and US dance music from the 1990s up to the present in their inspired ability to set the drum machine against a distinctly East Asian industrial backdrop—channeling the sound of a dystopic future of armed conflicts and ground invasions where the hastily built edifices of Confucian capitalism resurface as detention centers and fallout shelters. The LP culminates in “Rocket (Live),” an opus of live sound system music that carries with it the hot heat of a subterranean, neon-lit industrial catacomb filled with vampiric club-goers. As guitar noise billows out over a militant rhythm that recalls everything from darkwave to Container (or Alan Vega & Martin Rev’s early Suicide records) the track builds into an assailing polyrhythm that showcases a dancefloor severity at the height of their transportive powers.
Inside the sleeve is a photocopied insert of a watercolor painting depicting an anonymous man hanging from a streetlamp. A sign with the Chinese characters 漢奸 (“traitor”) hangs around his neck. Taipei 101 Tower looms in the distance, once the tallest building in the world—a conspicuous symbol of Taiwan’s American-style capitalist power—now shrouded in the fog of war. Absorbing the anxiety of these times, Taibach’s debut provides an anxious soundtrack looking for the old military bunkers underneath spreading skyscrapers and machines chorusing the rising tides of global unrest.