Published Sep 05, 2019Hailing from Brussels, fewer than 50 km southwest of Front 242's hometown of Aarschot, Belgium, it's difficult not to draw comparisons between DJ/beatmaker AIR LQD (aka Mehdi Kernachi) and the region's best-known industrial music success story. Like many of his colleagues in the Belgian underground, AIR LQD owes an artistic — and potentially commercial — debt to Jean-Luc De Meyer and company.
This is not a criticism. The lasting effect of '80s-era industrial music was neither anticipated, nor much discussed at the time. Its followers were more focused on the newness of the artform, and its potential to document a relatively dark period in European history, marked by late-Cold War excesses and the emergence of a new political right.
For the current crop of artists, the trick is to understand what came before them musically, without simply updating their predecessors. AIR LQD's debut full-length is a sincere attempt to strike that balance. Repeat Itself is infused with the kind of rough-edged DIY ethic that lends music of this sort a sense of urgency. He's captured all of the angst of 2019 without resorting to Donald Trump samples and gun shots.
This is a good album that fans of the genre will appreciate deeply. AIR LQD is producing work that weds a variety of influences — industrial, dark ambient and techno among them — with a desire to mirror the electronics-fueled world we live in.
What we should have known back in the '80s was that as the technology advanced, electronic music would gain increasing relevance as an artform, and at the same time, become easier to produce. Four decades later, whether produced for night clubs or headphones, this is very much where it's at. (Unknown Precept)