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Pale Sketcher – Jesu: Pale Sketches Demixed review

He’s a man who comes with many guises. Primarily he’s known as one Justin K. Broadrick, guitarist in seminal grindcore band Napalm Death and industrial/metal outfit Godflesh. Later on in the ‘90s, he turned to electronic music, collaborating with Ninja Tune signing The Bug (aka Kevin Martin of King Midas Sound) under the alias Techno Animal. Then he metamorphosed into Jesu in 2002 – a metal project specializing in slow, melancholic soundscapes, of which Pale Sketches was an original release back in 2007. Finally, he appears to us today, under the Pale Sketcher moniker as a “de-mixer” and musical deviant, demixin” the Jesu album of 2007 into something rather peculiar, experimental and deeply intriguing.

Kicking off with “Don’t Dream It (Mirage Mix)”, Pale Sketcher goes in deep, transforming the original into something which, intentional or not, is very much a sound of now, as clinking, chiming sounds are contrasted against dark, grumbling bass and arcane rhythms. Moving forwards with dreamy, ethereal piece, “Can I Go Now (Gone Version)” come replete with a pious melody and shuffling beats, whilst the absence of sound that Pale Sketcher seeks to achieve in his demixes becomes ever more apparent in ambient cut “Wash It All Away (Cleansed Dub)”. Shimmering, trance-like murmurings and a stripped back guitar provide some sort of absolution here, it would seem.

See also “The Playgrounds Are Empty (Slumber Mix)”, up next, with its heavy-lidded, dreary vocals and tranquilised, numbing atmospherics, which pertain to the same ambient sensibility. “Tiny Universe (Interstella)” bridges the gap between these two central tracks and the final section, with vocal-led “Supple Hope (2009 mix)” leading smoothly in to “Dummy (Bahnhoff version)” – an intricately textured piece with a vaguely oppressive atmosphere and a distinctly downtempo vibe. Concluding track, “Plans That Fade (Faded Dub)”, enacts the process described in the title, yet far from fading away into nothingness, it serves to reinforce Pale Sketcher’s intention of demixing and deconstructing to create something new, and in doing so, entirely reconstructing his Pale Sketches.

Belinda Rowse