On Interior Terror, Chicago industrial duo Hide find everyday horrors in the corporeal and immaterial | Music Review | Chicago Reader

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On Interior Terror, Chicago industrial duo Hide find everyday horrors in the corporeal and immaterial

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The term “minimalism” often conjures up white walls and bright lights—a defiant barrenness in a world steeped in chaos—but Chicago-based industrial duo Hide take their stark sounds to a far darker and more malevolent space. On the new Interior Terror, multi-instrumentalist Seth Sher (Coughs, Ga’an) and singer and visual artist Heather Gabel don’t attempt anything particularly complex or detailed, but they more than compensate with punishing volume and powerful messages—they use Gabel’s voice, field recordings, and a smokestack of electronic hardware (including a skipping Depeche Mode CD) to craft brutal social commentaries. The aim of Interior Terror is to draw and quarter (and then reconstruct) the physical and spiritual notions of the body. Using a palette of industrial sonics, Sher and Gabel remake Cartesian dualism—the system of thought that divides body and mind—in their own sinister image. The duo operate in their own orbits, even more clearly here than on previous releases: Sher lays down beds of screeching power electronics while Gabel issues barbarous proclamations. The album opens with its title track, which begins with stomach-churning atmospheres and a ten-ton hammer that drops at every turn, yielding only to Gabel’s refrain of “I am not my body.” The lyrics of the next track, “Nightmare,” come from a dream Gabel’s mother confided to them over the phone (“Last night I had a vision of you / I’m scared / The pain is never-ending”). On “Daddy Issues,” the duo bow to their forerunners in musique concrète, melding opera samples and Gabel’s ghastly wails with knuckle-dragging dialogue sourced from a letter by the father of Brock Turner—the Stanford student who earned national infamy after being convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman in 2015—where he asked the court to give his son nothing but probation, arguing that prison time (Turner was eventually sentenced to a paltry six months behind bars) would be a “steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action.” Confronting existential dilemmas and societal ills hardly makes for a pleasant listening experience, and that’s exactly the point of Interior Terror. Hide have never based their music on conventional melody or structure—they’re activists with an electronic armory and a PA. With Interior Terror, they demand that we look beyond artifice and virtue signaling to shed light on every horror, fully aware that we won’t like what we see.   v

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