For such an amiable assemblage of techheads, KMFDM has suffered through one bum rap after another. Started in 1984 as a style consortium of hip-hop, techno, and metal, topped off with Chumbawamba-like faux political shout-alongs, the band was unjustly lumped in with Skinny Puppy and other purveyors of industrial mope. Then came the Columbine massacre, and the band’s reported status as the teenage killers’ musical inspiration. So it’s no wonder that KMFDM’s Sascha Konietzko (keyboards, computers, the kitchen sink if it’s MIDIed), Tim Skold (guitars), and sometime vocalist Lucia Cifarelli have tried to hold on to what brand-name value they have by rechristening themselves as MDFMK. Whatever the name, their self-titled debut is a wonderfully deranged technological stew of styles that, on at least one occasion, attains the absolute pinnacle of whatever it is KMF, er, MDFMK does.
The record starts off with “Now,” a snarling rampage through the heretofore unexplored realm where Goldie, Cradle of Filth, and Erasure somehow coexist. Between the adrenochrome hyperbeats, Konietzko’s buzz-saw vocals, Skold’s guitars, and the aforementioned kitchen sink, it’s a miracle the song was ever mastered without a significant portion of the mix spilling off the lathe. And that’s just for openers.
“Rabblerouser” evokes Atari Teenage Riot, but with more — surely this sounds absurd — nuance. Other songs genre-hop expertly from grindcore burnout (“Transmutation”) to Autechre-esque random-noise generation (“Be Like Me”), but nothing can prepare one for the glam-boogie glory that is “Torpedoes.” Konietzko’s remarkable clumsiness with the English language, a massive “Rock ‘n’ Roll, Part 2” beat, a flick-your-Bic guitar figure that Sweet would die for, a dance-floor scream-along break à la David Bowie’s “Suffragette City,” and the clenched-fist chorus cry of “God! Damn! The torpedoes!” all combine to make a track that’s so glam good only a dead person would pause to ask, “But what’s it mean?”
Who knows? Who cares? Although nothing else on the CD reaches this trashy peak of aggro-pop brilliance, it’s Konietzko and company’s long-promised moment of quintessentially sublime/stupid rock ‘n’ roll perfection. Not bad for a “first” record.