Rogue Sector first made waves back in 2017 when they released “Spare The Words”. It was an ambitious and provocative concept: a single based around a vocal sample from the legendary Nico. It was also a striking introduction to a very striking outfit.
Their pedigree is impressive. Producer Paul Freegard has worked with the likes of Depeche Mode, Annie Lennox, Garbage, and more. Andrew Trussler is an experimental artist who’s been championed by the likes of John Peel and institutions like the BFI and ICA. Rogue Sector’s voice comes from Ellie Jones, an independent artist who gained renown as part of Move In Circles and Kintsuku.
In 2018, In The Club magazine described Rogue Sector as “Dark matter specialists”. The Ministry of Love EP validates this claim. From the opening chords of the title track, you realise that you’re encountering something exotic and mounted in darkness.
Tonally, there is so much going on with “The Ministry of Love”. It’s definitely dark. It’s also ominous, apocalyptic even. And very sexy.
It wires sensuality into something disturbing. Jones’s vocals pull off the neat trick of being both sultry and uncanny. “The Ministry of Love” is the perfect soundtrack to experiences defined by twisted delights. Circumstances where, as Jones notes, “Very pretty people do very ugly things for love”.
The accompanying video emphasises the theatricality of the piece. Jones is literally presented as the “Main Antagonist” who performs among footage of warfare, sinister figures and flowers shrinking away from the light.
What “The Ministry of Love” stands for is love without tenderness. States where hearts entwine through MK-Ultra style indoctrination, rather than romance.
I love it so much.
The phrase “Sexy but insidious” appears in my notes on The Ministry of Love. The title track set this standard. The remaining ones more than live up to it.
“Now It’s Dark” feels more blatant than “The Ministry of Love”. The beat and bass run deep as Jones describes how she’s feeling and what she wants. She’s hungry and wants to know what you can do. And she doesn’t care if “The whole world burns tonight”. As long as she’s sated.
As titles go “You Ain’t in Control” is pretty damn suggestive. The BDSM vibes aren’t hard to pick up on. The sentiment of the title gels well with the music. As someone who was around during the height of 2000s EBM, “You Ain’t in Control” reminded me of past…experiences.
“You Ain’t in Control” is a floor filler. That floor being filled with black-clad figures losing control beneath black lights. It’s not the hardest dark-dance out there, but it certainly gets the job done.
I’m often hesitant to compare any act I review to any other. I worry about detracting from the individuality and creativity of artists when I do this. And given the backgrounds of Rogue Sector’s members, this was a path I had to tread carefully.
That being said, “Bad Vibrations” didn’t remind me of any acts associated with Rogue Sector. It reminded me of IAMX’s “Nightlife”. Taken from 2006’s The Alternative, “Nightlife” is a beloved, dark sex jam.
Comparing “Bad Vibrations” to it is nothing but a huge compliment to all parties. It surges with the same energy. It vibrates with unbearable tension. Tension you can chew on, in anticipation of what you’d rather get your jaws around.
The vivid timbre of “Bad Vibrations” comes from a masterful assemblage. Perfect balances are struck between glitch effects, the electro-industrial arrangements and Jones’ well-equipped vocals.
Hopefully, we won’t have to wait too long for a follow up to The Ministry of Love. If “Spare The Words” was a statement, then this EP is a manifesto. One put forward by an outfit with serious visions. And clearly, they have such sights to show us.
You can find Rogue Sector here:
Label: JAM UK
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