Leyland Kirby has always been a force in the experimental electronic realm, but over the last few years he's taken a high seat of prominence, mostly on the tails of his darkly heartbreaking works as The Caretaker. But Kirby has always been a man of many monikers and for Modern Love he resurrects The Stranger, a project of his that's lain dormant since 2008. The nostalgic charm of The Caretaker, and even his namesake recordings has been burned away in favor of a dark, apocalyptic grind that feels like an essay in bleakness. The noisy squalor of opener "We Are Enemies But Not Here" gives way to a grime-caked suite of songs that rumble along on the scrape and clamor of percussion that ranges from numb to claustrophobic. The general ambiance of the album can be summed up in the oppressive grey concrete tones of the cover art, which seems to invite the listener into an urban landscape of fear, dread and despair. Kirby can be a master of immersion, and where The Caretaker feels like time lost to age, Watching Dead Empires In Decay feels like the dissolution of societal norms as summed up in the mind-scraping tones of steel on steel and tires on pavement. Take none of this as derision though, the oppressive atmosphere is gorgeous in its bleak suffocation, Kirby has nailed the edginess of not knowing what lies around the corner of next year.
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