Grendel

Published on April 15th, 2018

In literature, Grendel is a mythic aberration of Christendom, a mutant descendant of Cain who lives at odds with humankind in the Anglo-Saxon epic “Beowulf,” but is imagined more compassionately in John Gardner’s eponymous 1971 novel as a tragic creature, torn between self-reliance and self-sacrifice, nihilism and heroism.

In music, JD Tucker and his Dutch ensemble Grendel embody many of these issues, but in the pulsating and infinitely dark realm of electronic body music. Formed in 1997, Grendel is still in the vanguard of electro-industrial, aggrotech, hardcore techno music. Now based in the United Kingdom, Grendel continues to push genre boundaries with music that is deliberate and almost jingoistic in its military flavor.

“Over the years I’ve seen EBM evolve quite a bit, due to contemporary fashion and technological developments,” Tucker tells PureHoney. “What’s interesting is that there was a big shift in the early 2000’s toward more mainstream dance music genres, but in recent years there’s been quite a revolt.”

It’s a backlash against more commercialized electronica that Tucker welcomes as the entire dance music ecosystem is increasingly digitized and estranged from any ties to analog culture.

Grendel’s latest, “Age of the Disposable Body,” released last fall on Germany’s Infacted Recordings, is a muscular and deep exploration by Tucker and Co. of the genre’s possibilities. Danceable even as it prompts a brooding self-reflection, it’s built on all of his considerable musical knowledge. “I came up with a sonic pallet first, then a groove and a musical phrase which I felt was haunting,” he says. “I opted for vintage equipment, such as older samplers, drum computers and hardware/analogue synths. These have their restrictions which made me work more impulsively and creatively.”

Their “Severed Nations” tour will feature the addition of guitarist Erik Gustafson, Neal Reed on keys and drummer Ben Tourkantonis for a club experience that will incorporate pre-recorded sampling and live performance. The indefatigable Tucker, nowhere as conflicted as the beast from which he take his band name, will finish up 2018 with a new EP and the soundtrack for a video game.

Grendel, with Ghostfeeder, Peter Turns Pirate and DJ Paul Klov, performs April 13 at Respectable Street in West Palm Beach. sub-culture.org ~ Abel Folgar

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