Swarm Intelligence - Against The Dying Light - VOITAX

Swarm Intelligence Against The Dying Light front cover

Fragment of original artwork.

Against The Dying Light by Swarm Intelligence is a masterfully-crafted industrial techno album playing with horror film themes and sounds.


With Swarm Intelligence’s fourth album, Against the Dying Light (to be released on April 3), Irish producer Simon Hayes continues forging his place as a major player in the rhythmic noise and industrial techno ecosystems. This will be his second record released by the Berlin-based VOITAX - a label that has slowly built up quite a catalogue of blackened techno and other more adventurous electronica. The label’s bare-to-the-bone approach makes it a good home for the more dancefloor-oriented Swarm Intelligence releases such as this one.

The implicit theme of Against the Dying Light (perhaps a bit of a callback to Dylan Thomas?) is the fight of hope against fear. As such it is clearly an album of the time, permeated by contemporary angst and fear over global political issues, such as reckless leadership, terror, etc. For example, Against The Dying Light is a track inspired by the Berlin terrorist attack of 2016. The breathtaking choir in this track seems to give hints of a way through the darkness over a distant bombarding beat. These themes of fear and hope infuse the album, giving it a somewhat more dramatic feel than some of the earlier releases. The influence of horror films is pervasive, as seen from the titles of most tracks: It Scuttles, I am Everything You Are Running From, etc. Horror didn’t only influence the album’s themes, but also its compositional elements and sound design - Hayes went through many old school horror/sci-fi films, picking up samples using a sampler with an in-built mic, and exploring techniques used to construct mysterious and terrifying noises in these films.

The menacing atmosphere settles slowly through the first two tracks with their syncopated dub-infused beats reminiscent of JK Flesh. Anxiety builds up in It’s Beneath Us to reach a peak with I am Everything You Are Running From where pure delirium is unleashed. The sense of urgency and dread created by the blend of grinding synths and metallic beats, mixed with deeper echoing blasts, sounds like Tetsuo: The Iron Man, had it been shot inside a precariously balanced installation of monolithic metal plates by Richard Serra. There is a little respite with Catacomb, before going back to harsher territories with From Shadows - the most 4/4 EBM-influenced song of the album - and I Prey On Your Fear, whose abrasive synths over rough industrial bring to mind Kerridge’s hardest moments. Light slowly makes its way back through the last three songs, such as in Light Reigns where luminous synths seem to battle against the pounding beats that permeate the album. The last piece, Gloom, is ironically the brightest of the collection. It starts with almost shoegazey synths that are washed away by ominous sounds and then come back as distant echoes, synthesizing the album’s reflection on the perpetual struggle between fear and hope.

This is a solid album best listened to as a whole. The strong dynamics within the songs echo the macro level dynamics of the record. Its well-crafted fusion of industrial, techno, noise and dark ambient with hints of breakbeat and dubstep is sure to please connoisseurs of the aforementioned genres.

Swarm Intelligence - Against The Dying Light - VOITAX

A1 Dusk Falls
A2 It Scuttles
B1 It's Beneath Us
B2 I Am Everything You Are Running From
C1 Catacomb
C2 I Prey On Your Fear
D1 From Shadows
D2 Against The Dying Light

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