What’s your standard for a versatile Artist? David Bowie, Mister Bungle, Madonna, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Chumbawumba? Well, I’ve got a band for you that puts every one of these artists to shame, and they go by the delightful name of Controlled Bleeding. They’ve done it all: reggae, harsh noise, classical music, electropop, ambient, gothic dance music, stuff that no one can begin to categorize. They’ve done everything, and I mean EVERYTHING.
Now, if I was to give you some bad, but fun advice, I would tell you to go to your streaming service of choice and just grab an album of their’s at random to see what you get. This is my preferred listening method for Controlled Bleeding, but I feel obligated to give a content warning for some deeply upsetting sounds and occasionally gross topics. That out of the way, when you open up a controlled bleeding album, what do you get? Well, if you are unlucky, you will be subjected to some of the most disturbing harsh noise on this side of the Japanese Border. Power Electronics was independently invented by numerous artists in the late 80s and Controlled Bleeding was one of them. But this music? This is the easy stuff; this is just what you sign up for when you listen to a band with a name like Controlled Bleeding. We haven’t even gotten to the weird music yet.
Most people allude to Controlled Bleeding’s versatility by pointing out their most unlikely musical experiment: Dub Reggae. It’s certainly a good clickbait tagline, a harsh noise band making reggae music. When you hear the actual music, it makes a bit more sense. I’m not an expert on this by any means, but from my limited knowledge, I know dub is the most experimental side of the genre, and many artists in that style would cross over into Western avant-garde communities to make electronic music. After listening to Controlled Bleeding’s “Dub Songs From a Shallow Grave,” I can tell you that darkwave and dub work surprisingly well together. It’s certainly not their strangest genre crossover. That honor goes to their classical album.
“Music For Gilded Chambers,” is pretty much just a modern classical album. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, but it’s honestly just goth-tinted orchestral music. The band refers to this as “Arguably the best Controlled Bleeding album,” on their Bandcamp page, which says a lot about their priorities. Many noise and metal musicians try desperately to be heavy and disturbing, but Controlled Bleeding is in it for the craft. This is ironic, considering that they are way edgier and more disturbing than any myriad of tryhard bands, but from all available interviews, it seems to be the truth. Controlled Bleeding tried to make the best of whatever style interested them, and there’s something refreshing about a band that is untethered from the expectations of a scene or movement.
And trust me, there’s more, so much. There’s dancefloor-ready electro-industrial; Lady Gaga style pop; ambient works; on and on and on. The band made so many albums that I can’t even give you a good estimate, and every time they pushed themselves to do something new. Try it for yourself, even if you don’t like what you hear, you will be thoroughly entertained by the experience.