Under the VHS¥DEATH moniker, London-based artist, Natalie Wardle (also of Returning Videotapes) produces the kind of foul sorcery that makes us uncomfortable. Like sitting at the table over Christmas with the indifferent uncle spinning his weathered yarns, it’s stuff to make you squirm.
Unlike the indifferent uncle, though, Wardle’s sound bites ask the tough questions. Because – after all – the truth hurts, and on Wardle’s new EP, Corrupted Geisha, reality breaks through the fourth wall with the impact of a tidal wave.
The Corrupted Geisah EP follows Wardle’s 2019 debut album, LA LLORONA (LOVE & ALL THE HATE). A series of hypnotic dark wave undercurrents highlighting corruption and the decay of the human condition, Corrupted Geisha EP is an illustration of a world turned bad. In fact, was it ever good?
If it weren’t for the perceived ‘strong men’, the tyrannical individuals hell-bent on getting what they want through the prism of delusion, narcissism and a flagrant lack of consideration for anyone but themselves, then who knows? The world may have been good at some point, and a totally different one to which we currently inhabit.
But it’s not and Wardle reminds us quite emphatically throughout these six tracks.
Welding together soulful hip-hop cuts and atmospheric bar room strums, Space Bankers See You, The End Is Near is a chilling call to arms, with a defiant oration highlighting the scourge of capitalism. In many ways, it could be considered a new form of conscious rap.
The misery continues on Falsehood of Man (Dystopian Mix). Like staring into the inner mind of someone holistically consumed by the fast-moving pace of the modern age, Wardle’s message is like a road that leads to hell.
Meanwhile, drum & bass and hip-hop collide on 666 Pounds of Zero Gravity with yet another sermon elaborating on the theories of degenerative principle and esoteric freemasonry. It sounds like a Wardle is putting her listenership on trial with a university lecture here, but it’s not the case. Instead the song succinctly captures the eroding nature of society.
With more acerbic undertones that ring true the more times listened, What’s Your Worth, Vampire? is like dark wave psychedelia that would play well as background noise before a Gnod gig. Which leads into Everyday is Halloween – pure ’80s cold wave meets pop, as Wardle takes the vocals in what ends the EP emphatically.
The Corrupted Geisha EP is a scornful snapshot from an artist uncompromising and not afraid to unveil the truth. With everything going on in the world right now, Wardle’s next set of recordings as VHS¥DEATH will no doubt turn up the pressure even more. Until that moment, we shall remain ensnared by this.
Corrupted Geisha EP is out now via Cruel Nature Records. Purchase from Bandcamp.