United Front – By All Means II: The Fall Of Church And State (2017)

Originally known as U-731, Gordon Lazarus’ project is now simply known as United Front and nothing has changed since then. United Front still sounds like U-731, so we may as well consider this another U-731 album under a different moniker. At any rate, business is business as usual, with tons of spoken word clips and loud vocal epithets that sound like they’ve been shouted through a megaphone. U-731 was music for protest the first time I heard them and United Front continues that style with this short, but defined release.

The record begins with “What Makes Us Great” which begins with a Matthew Mconoughey quote that while fits the material, makes me wonder about the copyright nature behind these sorts of voice clips. We’ve never used voice clips in our records, because I know that the movie and film industries are rather greedy and want money for practically every little clip used on an album that is at least recent, though they are probably used by so many artists without permission that the MPAA doesn’t have enough firepower to take them on, not to mention failing to put a dent in illegal streaming sites. So in that regard, it probably doesn’t matter. The piece is very much as you might expect afterwards, with Lazarus shouting through a megaphone while loud sirens blare in the background. I have one hell of a time hearing him though. It isn’t as clear as I’d like it. “Conflict” comes next, with a light hum and what grows into a level of harsh industrial, almost rolling into robotic territory. I wish I could understand the vocal element though, it is again not so clear.

“What Is Conflict” follows, with a brilliant piano piece and a strongly clear set of voice clips that are as clear as Lazarus’ vocal tone should be. In the foreground, it feels like several clips from the news are utilized here. I’ve made a record like this, but it was taken offline by a DMCA notice on the voiceclips. I suppose using the former president’s quotes and different clips from TV shows/commercials was too much, even if it served a purpose. So I gave up this kind of music. After the voice clips, a reverberating fuzz backs Lazarus’ shouts, once again sounding almost incomprehensible. I don’t know if I agree with him or not, because I just can’t understand what he’s saying. It sounds like he’s serious about it, but with such a level of static, I can’t discern it. I have no idea what I’m supporting either, so that’s disconcerting. Someone will go online and say “did you know that you’re supporting people who believe this?” and I’ll say to them, “You understood the lyrics? Tell me what it says! I’m curious.” I mean, this thing doesn’t come with lyrics and it should. I’d really like to know what this guy is shouting about. The album art and such looks quite interesting, almost like a rebellious kind of thing that the government would tear my door down for, to which I’ll tell the FBI agents, “You actually understood the lyrics too? Why am I the only one that can’t understand them? Just shoot me then, this body is obviously fucked if I’m the only one that can’t understand the lyrics.”

Continuing on with the album, we have some wonderful female cleans at the beginning of “Church and State” which goes into yet another clear vocal clip. The word “sheeple” here is used quite a bit and I’m wondering if this clip predates the usage by conspiracy buffs on the internet. I believe they’ve used the buzzword “woke” which is nothing if not a caricature for those who choose to utilize critical thinking when it comes to conspiracy research. The voiceclips are meant to be the meat of this one, I think the piece is actually more about providing an atmopshere for them, than actually being music in itself. “Our War Alone” fills with more distorted fuzz, which gives off a futuristic vibe to the shouts provided. This flows into an almost angelic harmony, which (at least to my knowledge) backs a Kennedy quote. The last track here is “No Friends, No Enemies” which contains a great deal of harsh industrial noise, feeling altogether a bit flat. It is definitely a rough-edged track, but it doesn’t feel as if it really works to deliver anything other than a severe electronic wrath.

In the end, United Front have created an album with several strong messages, many communicated in the voice clips and others within the lyrical shouts. Though I cannot tell what Lazarus is saying through this megaphone effect, I am sure that many of you will and I’d congratulate you on that. United Front are still one of a kind in this genre in so far as their vastly political/anti-political approach, which it is certainly a noble vehicle for. This record follows a very “if it ain’t broke” aesthetic, which I hope continues throughout the tenure of his musical career. I just really hope that on the next one, the lyrics will be made a bit clearer or at least printed so that I can get the message behind all of this. I only feel like I’ve heard half of it, unfortunately.

(6 Tracks, 34:00)

7/10

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