The extreme, multidimensional gabba (fucking fast) techno composed and performed by Ultraviolence (Johnny Violent and a roster of collaborators) has changed little since 1991 when “Shout,” Violent’s debut single, landed him a record deal in the U.K. And that’s just fine. Superpower shows that equal parts manic-depressive electronic opera and throbbing video-game obsession still makes for music that makes people dance — though some of the bpm-obscured beauty in Johnny’s music may be best experienced using headphones while sitting and listening carefully.
Drawing on and containing samples from Ultraviolence’s brilliant hardcore-motherfucka nightmare, Psycho Drama, Superpower skids off into strange fragmented narratives, comical virtual-reality bike races (“Team UVR”) and tragic amphetamine-paced love songs (“Diamonds”). Its cinematic depth sends moving echoes out of Superpower as Johnny screams, “It’s over/I want to live/You understand/It must be broken/Destroyed” on the personal apocalypse track, “Separation.”
Such dialogue delivered by various voices throughout the CD pulls the listener through the stories while pretty female vocals fill the space around the drama like a sound track wrapping itself around a movie. Johnny’s music has never concerned itself with tracking or responding to the confused ever-morphing state of techno/electronic music. At least not since “Shout,” when he pointed out that the empty put-your-hands-in-the-air brand of audio ecstasy does nothing but make your arms sore after a while. Do what you want with your body when you flip on Superpower, but expect your mind to be taken somewhere else.