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DIÄT – Positive Disintegration


Positive Disintegration is DIÄT’s follow up to their excellent 2015 full length, Positive Energy. The time between releases seems to have been well spent – DIÄT (‘diet’ in German) delivers eight consistently strong tracks here that offer a more varied representation of the band’s post punk sound. Based in East Berlin and partially made up of Aussie expats, DIÄT are able to effortlessly generate both driving Krautrock rhythms and the splintered guitar sounds of Iron Lung label-mates Total Control. The tone of Positive Disintegration is consistently bleak. The imagery here will be familiar to any post punk enthusiast, but DIÄT is able to rejuvenate old ideas through the lyrical strength of perspective in their writing and the urgency of their delivery when paired with the band’s music. While the band explores, reacts, and reinterprets similar emotional content throughout, Positive Disintegration never feels redundant, musically or thematically.

Album opener “We” is anchored by a slow bass and drum groove as Nordberg, the band’s bassist and singer, intones:

That extra static had become too much to bear
Turn the dial
Tune it out
But what have I tuned into?
I thought for once I’d found some focus
But I’ve backed myself into a corner
I dug a grave
Dug my own grave
I’ve been digging my own grave

Positive Disintegration is permeated by the sense of loss felt by those who have (perhaps rightly) disconnected themselves from the zeitgeist and events of the day, but who have not replaced these connections with other meaningful relationships or beliefs. These themes began to ossify in the early days of post punk, making them increasingly hard to write about convincingly or creatively in more recent years, but DIÄT manages to do both.

An abundance of small decisions strengthen individual tracks and the atmosphere of the record as a whole. On “Foreign Policy,” the guitar, bass, and drums tentatively exchange places before the song launches, a wash of metallic feedback clatters below the rhythm guitar, and controlled peals of feedback ring out whenever the song starts to breathe. The album also sees the band embrace more synth and electronic sounds. Drum machines, repetitive synths, and resonant filter sweeps serve as the foundation for “W.I.G.T.D.W.M?” (What’s It Got to Do With Me), one of the album’s many highlights. On “Only My Own,” piercing guitars are punctuated by coughing reverb springs. The rhythm section is strong throughout, especially the driving work of drummer Iffi. “Missed the Bus” finds the band sounding musically pretty, but lyrically dark: sequenced synths march alongside a narrative vocal, ‘life’s what you make of it and I’ve made a treadmill.’ Despite the bleak picture painted throughout much of the record, occasionally the music and lyricism hints at a release in having come to terms with the disappointments of modern life; Nordbert sings on album closer “Opfer,” ‘It’s time to cut out the shame and take it day by day.’

At times it almost seems that DIÄT may be a bit too comfortable in the shadows of some of the great early post punk acts, but while there are certainly some shared aesthetics and imagery to be found, the band still feels thoroughly modern. Taken as whole, Positive Disintegration feels more reflective and deliberate than Positive Energy, which is an impressive feat given the new range and depth on display here. Bands likely feel pressure to get another album out after they begin to gain recognition for a strong release, DIÄT has shown in Positive Disintegration that sometimes it’s worth taking the time to reflect on a set of ideas and really wait for them to mature before sending them out into the world.

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