Wumpscut – For Those About to Starve (EP Review)

Wumpscut (stylized as :wumpscut:), the sonic nom de plume of Rudy Ratzinger, exists within a kind of bubble: beloved and influential within the insular Electro-Industrial community but rarely acknowledged outside its walls. So, if you live outside of the European Dark Electro scene, or lack any darkly-inclined Industrial tendencies, :wumpscut: might be a new name for you. But For Those About to Starve awaiting new material from Herr Ratzinger, rejoice! The latest EP arrives Friday, April 29, 2022, thanks to Metropolis Records.

It’s been just over three decades’ worth of releases for Ratzinger’s studio-only project. Beginning in Bavaria, Germany in 1991, :wumpscut: would go on to produce an astounding 23 full-length studio offerings, becoming one of the most prolific and influential artists in Electro-Industrial music. From 1993’s Music for a Slaughtering Tribe to 2004’s Bone Peeler to 2011’s Schrekk & Grauss, new music remained consistent until 2017, when the project went dormant.

Four years elapsed before :wumpscut: made an epic return with 2021’s full-length Fledermaus 303, though its ‘follow-up,’ the For Those About to Starve EP, arrives with surprising promptness. Composed of eight tracks, but actually delivering only four new songs, the collection is split between original material and instrumental versions of these new offerings. For Ratzinger’s craft, this makes perfect sense: serving to highlight his signature talents behind a synthesizer.

As for the new songs, it’s easy to fall into the catchy beats of the EP’s first track, “Justin Kohlenklau.” Its muddy vocals become secondary to the ominous stomp created by the synths, an idea that carries into the rave-ready “Scared Half to Death,” where the sole vocal is contained in an audio sample of a little boy relating his terrifying experience with a super slide. It undulates, lurking around dark corners like the monsters hidden inside every child’s closet.

Next, we float deeper into the abyss with the rocker “Kühlwalda,” the closest that we will step toward anything truly Industrial. However, it is the final track, “Nullem Crimen Sin Lege,” that toys with juxtapositions as it offers some heavy food for thought. Utilizing audio samples to hone in on the concept of what makes a civilized man, Ratzinger ironically places these soundbites against some of the collection’s most upbeat sounds.

As for the instrumental pieces, they offer a unique filter through which to view the material that is part and parcel of :wumpscut:’s craft. And it is exactly because Ratzinger is known for music that is so visceral that these versions of the songs feel somewhat necessary. These additions exist in order to allow us to caress each mystical note of “Kühlwalda,” fantastical when stripped bare of its ominous vocals, and to truly explore the artful acerbity amid the beauty of “Nullem Crimen Sin Lege.”

The crux of this new material, if there is one, lies in its lack of urgency and aggression, two of the penultimate characteristics of what many still believe (and want) :wumpscut: to be. Gone are the incendiary rage and the intricate walls of noise, left behind are the more sedate musings of a matured musician. This is neither positive nor negative, merely a fact of life: we cannot all remain fiery 25-year-old artists for the duration of our time on this Earth.

Thus, :wumpscut:, an echo of its progenitor, has evolved. And yet, if you look between the lines and allow your body to taste each movement, the frustration, the middle finger to society, and the symbiotic thrall of an undulating crowd remains. It’s there in spirit so that none may go hungry awaiting Ratzinger’s next. For this, Cryptic Rock gives For Those About to Starve 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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