Natural Assembly began as Jesse Cannon’s solo project in late 2010, when the London resident started churning out lo-fi dark synthwave via hypnotic, sometimes danceable instrumentation overlaid with expressionless singing that sounded like it was coming through a bass-heavy transistor radio in an abandoned factory. The obscurity of the music was matched by its method of distribution — Natural Assembly’s first demo, released in 2011, was a cassette intricately wrapped in card stock and released by the Dutch label/publishing house Zeitgeists in an edition of 66. After a split cassette with fellow Londoner Zen Zsigo’s harsh noise/power electronics project Cremation Lily, Zsigo joined Natural Assembly and has since helped steer the band to create songs that are a little less murky and a little more beat-driven.
Alongside the likes of Denmark’s Vår and Lust For Youth and Montreal’s Contrepoison, Natural Assembly have emerged as a leader of a small but thriving collection of bands making a new breed of lo-fi electronic music. It’s a school of sound influenced by early synth greats like New Order — AVANT! Records, who released Natural Assembly’s first EP Arms of Departure, listed Belgian EBM pioneers Front 242 as an influence — but also borrows from the early Cold Cave aesthetic of lackadaisical despondency. Cannon, who spent time on the road with Cold Cave roadying and selling merch, is quick to note the influence — on the liner of that initial demo, he thanked Cold Cave’s Wesley Eisold and Dominick Fernow, and says his time with them helped shape the way he approaches music.
There’s something distinctly British about Natural Assembly’s sound, and Cannon said that when he started Natural Assembly he was listening to a lot of British pop and industrial music: Strawberry Switchblade and They Go Boom !!, Fad Gadget and Human League. In Cannon’s words, “I wanted to do something that was an amalgamation of all this British sound.” The result is sometimes droning, often militant, and always a bit surreal — with pop sensibilities.
Natural Assembly make their US debut on tonight at Brooklyn’s heavy metal venue of record, Saint Vitus, on a stacked bill along with Cremation Lily, Endless Humiliation, Âmes Sanglantes (another project of Contrepoison’s Pierre-Marc Tremblay), and Alberich, before heading to Philadelphia for a show at Kung Fu Necktie (the two dates comprise the band’s entire US “tour”). The New York show will serve as the release party for Natural Assembly’s new EP, Torn From Infinity. Stream “Carnal Blue” from the new EP below.