"Women and Children"

By Dr. Abner Mality

No one can accuse Mr. Tristan Shone of treading the same ground twice. The one man machinist/musician has snapped back into action pretty quickly after his breakout "Ursus Americanus" album, but "Women and Children" is quite a different kettle of bolts and bushings altogether.

It is a more experimental and melodic record which sees Shone adding touches like piano and sci-fi synths to the usual A&P brutality. "Tame As A Lion" and "Pain Myself" are built on a foundation of mournful piano licks and clear but depressing vocals. A sell-out, you say? Truth is, these are the bleakest and most morose cuts on the album...they just exude a feeling of utter despair and discomfort. And yes, both do feature the patented noisy heaviness of Author and Punisher in spots.

The sonic palette here is considerably wider than what Shone has done before, but he alluded to this during my last interview with him and he has delivered on that promise. It has to be said, though, that this album is not lacking in that hammering, metallic, nihilistic feel...the opening title track is a good case in point. "Melee" mixes some low-key dubstep with just brutal industrial grind to wreck your head. "In Remorse" drags along like an elephant with a broken leg. I notice a strong influence of the early Nine Inch Nails on this album..."Melee" and "In Remorse" have a kind of "Broken" feel to them, but filtered through Author and Punisher's own unique sensibility. Shone's ambition only gets the best of him on one track, "Miles From Home", which is a freezing cold yet pop-tinged soundscape of icy synth tones...this one is just too far removed from the A&P template for my taste.

By now, you should know if you're adventurous enough to dip into the monolithic and mechanistic world of Author and Punisher. I can't say it makes the same impact on me as the massive blunt force trauma of "Ursus Americanus", but it sure shows a creative and fearless mind at work.