Retroject, the new album by Charleston’s Impulse Control Disorder, starts off with a fairly consistent sound. The first three tracks are hardcore industrial techno, the kind that bands like KMFDM and Ministry made back in the 1990s and 2000s. They’re chock-full of overdriven, harsh-textured synths, heavy beats and horror-show vocals.
After those opening tracks, “W.H.A.T.,” “Necessities” and “Icarus Wings,” you might think you’ve got the album pegged, but then Frank Svornotten, the man behind Impulse Control Disorder, throws a serious curveball into the mix.
The fourth track, “Mysterious Angel,” lightens things up considerably with a cheerful, ironically simple keyboard riff and pure eighties beats. Even Svornotten’s vocal tone changes, going from a grungy howl to a dead ringer for Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan.
From that point on, the album alternates a heavy industrial sound with poppier elements. “Train Song” in particular, is a neat throwback dance pop tune that recalls early New Order, right down to the pulsing bass line and heart-on-the-sleeve vocals.
Svornotten says that the album’s range of electronic styles comes from his own varied musical tastes.
“I have the fortunate or unfortunate fact that I listen to a lot of stuff,” Svornotten said. “I was never fully drawn to any one genre. I like metal, like Slayer and Sepultura, but I also love the Violent Femmes and Depeche Mode, and that’s why I had a hard time picking a lane to stay in. That’s why I called the band Impulse Control Disorder, because it’s kind of like how I am. My music collection, if somebody looked at it, they’d say you must be a crazy person because it’s so all over the place.”
That all-over-the-place love for music made its way into what Impulse Control Disorder does.
“Whatever came out, it was like putting my brain out onto a record,” he said. “I skip around a lot, so the record is going to skip around a lot. That might be jarring, but that’s just what came out.”
Regardless of the style, Retroject will make electronic music fans nostalgic for the sounds of yesterday, and that’s at least partially because Svornotten has been sitting on the songs for a while.
“The reason I called the album Retroject was that a bunch of those songs I had written like 15 years ago,” he said. “I never released them, and I always wanted to get them out, and then with the time I had during the pandemic, I was like, let me clean these things up and get them out, even if for no other reasons than a sense of completion.”
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