Infected Mushroom – IM the Supervisor (2004 Album)

Album Links:

 

Bandcamp: n/a

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/infectedmushroom/sets/im-the-supervisor

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/3KK4WXqbiP7MKuAfQhbhjf?si=ZivYQJOWTA281WyNYGG3zQ

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL36054862CF29783C

 

Introduction: First off, I want to comment on the album art. To my knowledge, there are two different album arts for IM The Supervisor. I honestly just chose the version that I could find the best quality image for, but if you’d rather look at some shroomed out version of Medusa (Hey, maybe that’s where Meduzz gets its name) holding an orb of some unknown origin or purpose, then go ahead and google it. I’m using this one.

 

Regardless of what album art I choose, I had taken a bit of an extended break from Infected Mushroom after Converting Vegetarians. After dominating two straight weeks with Infected Mushroom, it only felt fair to let other artists, whether or not I’ve reviewed them before, a chance to breathe new life into the Red Hat Reviews blog. This is also why it will likely be a while before you see the next Celldweller review. Three weeks dedicated to an artist that I like the least out of the ones I’ve reviewed so far is two weeks too many. I’ll get back to him and all of his other projects at a later date.

 

But this is not about Celldweller. This is about Infected Mushroom, my favorite psytrance duo of all time, despite the fact that they often deviate to other genres while keeping their style (variety is part of why I enjoy them). However, this time around they are sticking to the psytrance genre, though they have developed their sound design to match closer to Converting Vegetarians rather than the first three albums with a lot of focus and distorted vocal lines blending with the rest of the music.

 

And so, as we reintroduce Infected Mushroom to the world of Red Hat Reviews, we also enter a new era of Infected Mushroom themselves. Things are about to get interesting…

 

Infected Mushroom – IM the Supervisor (7): Starting off with the titular track of the album, I feel like now would be as good of a time as any to discuss the title: IM the Supervisor. Now you may be wondering if I’m suffering from a massive typo every time I type that title. Well, the thing is there’s a bit of a conflict on what the title actually is. Is this song short for “I am the supervisor,” a popularly held theory, or is it short for “instant message the supervisor,” which is my preferred theory. Why do I prefer said theory? Well you see, I distinctly remember seeing a story somewhere clarifying the confusion and telling the story behind the song in which Duvdev confirmed that it was instant message. Now I can’t find the story anywhere and half the sources are titled “IM” and the other half are titled “I’m.” Spotify is one of the ones to use the contraction, but they aren’t always perfect at getting titles right anyway (See Koan – Costline EP and the next song on this album, Ration Shamtio).

 

But that’s enough on the track’s title and lyrical content. In the end, such lyrics have very little influence on my opinion, as either way, they’re generally pretty meaningless, serving as just a few words for Duvdev to grumble as the song’s chorus. I personally prefer the portion where he’s screaming out “Dance with me,” as it’s a bit more energetic and there’s some great toms played in that section periodically. That’s a bit closer to the end of the song though… Perhaps I’ll review this song backwards… That’d be something different.

 

So, the middle portion of the song is what most closely matches the distorted feeling that I know Infected Mushroom best for. Not only is this where the main distorted lines with divided interpretation begin. It’s also home to many stretched lengthy notes that slide up and down in pitch. I hope you’ve enjoyed their brief occurrence her, because that’s not the last we’ll see of them in the album.

 

And lastly, I want to talk about the first minute of this song, before a single word is uttered. The odd two note bass rising and falling paired with sparing drumbeats interspersed set the tone immediately for the entire album. Much of it will be of this darker, deeply disturbing tone. The pianos to follow immediately reinforce that theme, serving as the most melodic instrument this song has to offer. Not my favorite part, as I’d originally gotten distracted by the toms that had played while the song begged us to dance (I obliged), but still important to setting up the mood for the rest of the album.

 

Infected Mushroom – Ratio Shmatio (7): And interestingly, the unconventional reviewing of methodology I started out with worked quite well into transitioning into the rest of the album. I’m not going to keep doing that though. There are some songs in this album, mainly Frog Machine, that must be reviewed front to back. This isn’t one of them, but I’m starting with that near silent arp in the intro anyway. Or at least silent in comparison to how loud it could be as quickly demonstrated by how it builds up over the next minute.

 

Building up instruments is a lot of what this song is about. The arp reaches its full potential quite soon, leaving room for other instruments to have the spotlight. I’m talking about the melodies, both the distorted glitchy synths that are a bit more infected than the other more natural instrument: the piano. And while not unique to Infected Mushroom, I think I prefer the piano. It compliments the rest of the song well and builds up gradually from its introduction a bit after 2 minutes in the song. Here, it blends in tune with the other distorted synth playing the same melody. However, not long after that, we have a build-up that involves shorter more repetitive notes from the piano, giving a dramatic flavor to everything around it.

 

Also, I lied, the arp does build up once more about three quarters into the song, resulting a great chord progression switch-up that serves as my favorite non-piano moment in the song. Would appreciate it more if it worked as a true finale, but there’s a few other squelchy instruments taking the spotlight from there on out. I haven’t much to say about them…

 

Oh, and before I forget, the song is called Ratio Shmatio, regardless of what Spotify says. I’m pretty sure that the intention is to make this rhyme as one does when mocking a particular word. Whether or not the song has some sort of ratio hidden within its progression and sound design is unclear to me, but I’m going to bet at no. It’s not like the title of the song is very respectful to that mathematical concept of ratios anyway.

 

Infected Mushroom & J. Viewz – Muse Breaks RMX (8): I shan’t spend long talking about the music in this one. There’s lots of odd things to remark about the vocals for this one. However, it’s also important to highlight the introduction and conclusion of this song. They’re roughly similar, bookending this song with mystery. These quiet moments are made up of soft simple melodies and some longer stretched notes that create the most chilling atmosphere this album has to offer. The conclusion also adds in some strings to create a sense beautiful finality. There isn’t nearly as much to say about the middle portion, but it does have a good drive and compares well to the “original” version of this song.

 

Oh yes, I put original in quotes? Why? Well, the trick is that the remix (or RMX) was released nearly a year before the original was. Makes sense? Of course it doesn’t, but somehow J.Views and Infected Mushroom got together and decided that Infected Mushroom should make an alternate version of J.Views’ unreleased song to promote the upcoming debut album for J.Views (fittingly titled Muse Breaks). Between this and the instant message fiasco, it’s clear that there are some ridiculous backstories to some of these songs. I’m not sure which version of Muse Breaks I prefer, as I discovered Infected Mushroom about five years ago and only got around to listening to J.views’ version… today… but both are definitely solid enough tracks. Perhaps I’ll review J.Views sometime so I can go more in depth to that version. Someday.

 

Well, J.views does definitely have an influence on this track through one third of the vocals. He sings the first verse of this song, though his vocals have been slightly, let’s say, shroomed (I like that term and I’m using it from now on). There’s another iteration of this verse sung by Duvdev midway through the song. He gives the song a feel that dances the line between classic Infected Mushroom and modern Infected Mushroom (this whole album seems to dance that line actually).

 

There’s also a female vocalist in there singing her own verse a couple of points in the song. And her part is definitely the most beautiful. I don’t usually prefer female vocals for singing along, but I think I may have to make an exception in this case. Unfortunately, I’m not able to figure out who she is. I know she likely isn’t Michelle Adamson from Blink and Illuminaughty off of Converting Vegetarians, as this voice is far more beautiful with very little edge to it. So I guess I’m a bit at a dead end trying to figure out who is responsible for the most beautiful part of the song. I’d love to credit her in the heading of this section of the review.

 

The lyrics of Muse Breaks are a bit strange and I’m unable to get a hundred percent deciphered analysis from what I have. I honestly am still not quite sure what a Muse Break is. But my guess it’s got to do with some sort of interruption to one’s artistic endeavors if I’m going to take it literally. There is a sense of inevitable sorrow in there as well. Rain is mentioned repeatedly and there’s a desperation to hold onto the sunny days, but it doesn’t sound like there’s much success in that endeavor. Instead, it feels like there’s an unsettling depression looming over this song. There is a struggle here though. It’s not over yet.

 

Infected Mushroom – Meduzz (7.75): Of course, if this was Mind.in.a.box, the album would begin to take a turn to tackle the existential dread and fight it with determination. But this is Infected Mushroom. Not saying we’re going to wallow it. I’m not reviewing Ashbury Heights right now either. Instead we’re going to take a more neutral vibe and check out a return to the funky groovy side of Infected Mushroom, with a funky bassline introduced almost immediately after some good shroomed up synths. There’s also notably a healthy variation on the drums as the song does change consistently letting all the kicks, snares, claps, and hats move in and out of the track as they please, even when it means all are absent.

 

But when, pray tell, would they all be absent? Well, I’ve got an answer for you, because that’s when the main theme of this song is introduced in the form of a stringed melody for this calmer portion. But as soon as the beat comes back in, you’d better be ready for a transformation. It’s the same melody but now it’s played on a guitar to give it a slightly harsher vibe rather than the dramatic strings. Both instruments represent the melody well and it’s a pleasure to listen to as the most memorable part of the song.

 

And that memorable main theme is definitely what makes this song stand out to me among most of the other instrumental songs on this album, not the most memorable mind you, but it’s close. And we can consider the fact that it’s more memorable than IM the Supervisor to make up for a certain other instrumental track beating the odds. But we’ve got a bit of time between now and then.

 

Infected Mushroom – Cities of the Future (8): After the instrumental break we had that is Meduzz, we’re onto the second most vocal oriented track (right behind Muse Breaks RMX), Cities of the Future. I want to say that this song has somewhat of a belchy groove, but I’m only making myself question how strangely disgusting my adjectives have become. It’s not like the instruments in this song are all that disgusting, just odd. But when you listen to Infected Mushroom, odd is what to expect. The distorted basslines serve as the most outstanding instrumental part of the song, though that could be because they are just about the only instruments. There’s thankfully some variety from moment to moment as well as some vocals to round out the track.

 

Speaking of vocals, let me attempt to do a tiny bit of lyrical analysis. For the most part, this song seems relatively straightforward, depicting the actions anyone would take upon the discovery of time travel (unless they’d rather try and change the past, but don’t even get me started on that mess). Make your way to the fantastical future and figure out how to bring the technological wonders back into your current life (and I’m not entirely sure if that strategy is scientifically sound either, but this is time travel we’re talking about).

 

And then there’s the bridge. Surprisingly after the shroomed vocals singing of Cities of the Future for so long, there is soon an introduction of some slightly cleaner vocals with a bit more meaning. Instead of just running to the cities of the future, the song now focuses on running away from the present to find one’s self, leaving all thoughts behind and fully creating a new self. And if you compare this theme to the titular section of the song, running to the city of the future seems to be about reaching for goals beyond our present state.

 

Or, alternatively, there could be a darker meaning to these lyrics. What if, instead, running to the future is no more than an escape. Look to the future and ignore the present. There’s nothing in the present worth concentrating on. All that matters is this imaginary uncertain future. And I’m not certain if that’s a swell way to live one’s life. I honestly don’t think ignoring the present sounds that fulfilling.

 

Honestly, I never quite realized this dichotomy until I took it upon myself to truly take an analytical look at these lyrics. This song is a bit more thought provoking than I thought it’d be.

 

Infected Mushroom – Horus the Chorus (6): Oh, we’re really pushing the shroomed vocals in here, are we? It’s not lyrical or anything. Far from it. It’s just the sound design. Not even the main standout element of this track. That credit goes to the bells that first appear at the two-minute mark. They’re an essential element that make this song as unique as it’s allowed to be.

 

And… uh… You know what? I really don’t have all that much to say about this one. It’s got a decent vibe but there’s just so little variety to talk about. It fades so easily into the back of my mind that it might as well not exist.

 

Infected Mushroom – Frog Machine (8.25): Frog Machine is a very odd one for me. Because of the interesting title and splendid variety that this song has it progresses, I ended up making narrative in my head for this song. If there was a music video, I know exactly what I’d want it to look like. I mean, what is a Frog Machine anyway? A machine that makes frogs? That’s what I’ve decided.

 

Though it’s less like a machine and more like a factory. Or maybe a very large complex machine, not too far off from one that makes chicken pies. Either way, it’s quite common knowledge that all frogs start as an egg. Well, that’s quite similar to what happens here, though instead of a frog laying the eggs. A machine pumps them out onto a conveyor belt, letting out round globs of an artificial blob of frog DNA known as frog fluid. Does it make scientific sense? Of course not! My vivid imagination (which isn’t drugged by the way, I’m just odd) wouldn’t necessarily match up with reality. I’m not a geneticist after all.

 

Anyway, these globs of frog fluid are where our journey begins. They are gathered by the bucketful (of a quite large bucket by the way) and transported across the frog machine factory. And due to the process of these frogs being genetically altered to expedite the aging process, it takes a mere minute for the eggs to be ready to hatch. But just in case, there’s a machine to manually hatch those eggs anyway, carefully holding the young enclosed tadpole in its grasp and piercing its thin outer shell, dropping the young not quite a frog yet far below…

 

Directly into the pipes, which is a lovely place for a tadpole to be, since it’s nice and wet and all. Not sure how the eggs survived this far without that water, but hey my imagination cuts corners. Let’s just assume that they’ve been sufficiently moistened up to this point. However, it’s important to note that it’s not exactly pure water running through these pipes. It’s got some Croak Juice in it. What is Croak Juice you ask? I just made it up, but basically it expedites the maturity of these tadpoles shooting them through twisting tubes. And by the time they reach the other end, these tadpoles have sprouted legs and are ready to traverse land.

 

But there’s one more step left, each of these frogs need one last shot of croak juice to truly reach their maturity as strong healthy frogs with an above average physique (for a frog). They hop down a conveyor set over a heating system to make sure these cold-blooded animals get the warmth they need to survive. They haven’t quite seen the sun yet, and I’m not sure if they ever will.

 

Because something goes wrong.

 

The final Croak Juice injector starts to clog, letting a few frogs go past without reaching peak maturity. This wouldn’t be too much of a problem as no machine is perfect, but this isn’t the end of the problems. For when the clog is cleared, the pressure of several too many doses of Croak Juice are injected into one frog which causes it to grow to a significant mutates size, towering over the rest of its amphibious friends.

 

Unfortunately for his amphibious friends, this guy has an appetite.

 

The Big One begins to eat its smaller equivalents as they are merely like bugs to its size. As it cannibalistically consuming the flesh of its brethren, the rest of the frogs understandably flee. Hopping at a tempo much faster than the Big One could handle. Unfortunately for them, the Big One can leap quite far. Far enough, to not only keep up with the stampede, but to trample those that lag behind as well.

 

The conveyors were not meant to support a frog of this magnitude. Its support begins to fracture, and the conveyor swings off course from where the frogs would finally be able to feel the sunshine on their wet slimy skin. Instead the conveyor hangs over the furnace, dropping all of its contents into the deadly fires below. The frogs scream as gravity leads them down towards their demise. Instantly melting as they reach the bottom.

 

But the Big One survives. Barely. While it had fallen into the flames, its body could withstand the heat long enough to climb its way out of hell. But it’s too late. This frog collapses, dying and decomposing as it gazes over mass graveyard of hundreds of batches of frogs gone wrong.

 

This has happened before.

 

So… I’m not sure where I was going with this? I made this up about five years ago so I’m not certain how it all goes. Probably something about the futility of society. I was just beginning to stretch my edgy wings around then, like I was ready to come out of Crow Factory or something. Wonder what that would sound like.

 

Infected Mushroom – Noon (5.75): Ok, we’re on the final stretch of songs for this album. Unfortunately, after Frog Machine, there aren’t really any more fantastic songs to point out. The problem is that, in this album, Infected Mushroom’s style began to stagnate for a brief bit. The vocals songs definitely had a lyrical advantage to gain their own identity. And Frog Machine was able to inspire some strange visualized music video in my head, despite the fact that there’s no music video to exist (this happens quite often, though I think this is the first time I’ve reviewed any outside of Mind.in.a.box’s entire discography).

 

But now we’re reviewing Noon. And I’m not incredibly impressed. It does take on a good funky vibe in some sections of the song, a decent bassline in the beginning and a few odd overly shroomed vocals introduced not long after. And there’s another half-decent melody to follow.

 

But other than that, I’ve got nothing to say to you about the rest of this song. One of the weakest on the album.

 

Infected Mushroom – Bombat (6.5): Bombat has a bit more to offer than Noon. It’s still one of the lesser songs on the album, but it creates a bit more of a creepy playful atmosphere than the previous song, making it stand out a bit more. Would it be better if it stuck to one mood and expanded upon a singular feeling rather than this dichotomy? Maybe, but the contrast works well enough with an odd minimalistic intro providing the creepy highlights and the incredibly shroomed vocals introduced about halfway through providing something a bit more playful. And then there’s the melody played throughout the rest of the second half, simple and dancing on the line between something enjoyably fun and something chillingly foreboding.

 

Personally, I think the best part of the song occurs midway through right before the shroomed vocals are introduced. This switch-up is what makes this song stand out among the rest of the songs that don’t stand out (don’t overthink it). There’s a new arp introduced about three minutes in and this arp serves as the heart of the song for me. As it dances up and down along the song’s scale, letting the bassline follow, the entire song feels like it’s a living breathing thing that continuously changes, at least for just minute. It makes a reappearance at the end of the track, ebding the song on a good note before we move on to the next.

 

Infected Mushroom – Stretched (7.75): Well, the last two songs were a bit underwhelming, but thankfully, there’s something a bit better to conclude this album. Not as good as Muse Breaks or Frog Machine mind you, but I’d put it just under Meduzz. They’re of quite similar quality and I am sensing some nostalgia from it, but it’s just not quite as memorable.

 

That being said, there is a decent amount of of variety stretched across this 7-minute conclusion. Throughout most of the track, this song maintains a good funky rhythm as the song is well supported by a consistently groovy drumbeat and bassline. However, everything else about this track changes. The short plucked melody establishes the song quite well with the way it matches the groovy backbone I’ve already described to what I’d consider to be the main melody played on what sounds like an electric guitar, backed by a distant choir that gives the whole scene a bit of tension. Following that there’s some vocals that continually cry out for beauty. The wish is granted with some beautiful piano and some returns of some of the previous instruments already introduced.

 

All in all, the song serves as a somehow relaxing conclusion to this album.

 

Conclusion: I know I’ve rated this album fairly similarly to the other Infected Mushroom albums so far, but it still feels like it’s a bit underwhelming. Converting Vegetarians is supposed to be introduce a new era of Infected Mushroom to the world and the following album just doesn’t feel all that new. Instead it feels as if Infected Mushroom’s style has slightly stagnated, still in need of an upheaval to make some unique songs worthy of their stature today. Maybe I’m just feeling a bit biased because the next couple of Infected Mushroom albums are my absolute favorites, defining the new post-Converting Vegetarians/pre-Converting Vegetarians II era. This album just can’t help but live in the shadows of where my love for Infected Mushroom originated.

 

But that’s a story for another review. Perhaps I’ll tell you more in a few weeks… or months… I haven’t decided yet when I’ll get back to this duo.

 

Final Score: (7.25/10)

Andy Hunter – Colour (2008 album)

Album links

 

Bandcamp: n/a

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/akim777oficial/sets/andy-hunter-collide-1

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/0IZD93MVZfN2K9Regou0sT?si=i7Gptf_8QSWH65He5GGAsg

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL9eZ1oUPc-CBmFJ6dvzxeSBhbFXq7tM0Q

 

 

 

Introduction: Andy Hunter! It’s been a good while since I’ve reviewed what I’d consider to be the most nostalgic artist of all time (for me, there’s an incredible bias here). Well, this one isn’t quite as nostalgic as the others as it had slipped under my radar when I’d first discovered Andy and all future albums hadn’t existed yet. But that doesn’t fully matter, because this album is still filled with nostalgic tracks that reach up to the highest heights of Andy Hunter’s production (sans Lifelight, nothing will beat Lifelight). There are definitely some beauties in here, that’s for certain. But enough talking vaguely about nostalgia. It’s time to get into the details of Colour (spelt in British because Andy Hunter is across the Atlantic from me, an American, but I like the British spelling anyway and shall be using it throughout the rest of this review).

 

Andy Hunter – Sound Pollution (9): Sound Pollution is, by far, the best introduction to any of the Andy Hunter albums. It does share a lot of similarities with Go, starting calmly and then slowly building up to a more intense energy ridden breakdown that hypes up the rest of the album. I will admit that Go, at first, does a better job with it’s beautiful strings and pounding heartbeat (this one starts with some nearly as beautiful ambience and perhaps some Morse code that someone who isn’t me can decipher).However,  Sound Pollution easily takes the lead as soon as the song kicks into high gear. It’s cleaner, smoother, more energetic and simply a better produced introduction in every way. This song is dense with dozens of amazing moments and a variety that few songs can measure up to.

 

Listen to that Bassline roll in. Oh, it sounds just like Go at first, but this one sneaks up on you more quickly with some auditory artifacts crowding around as it builds up the energy towards its first switch up. Changing chord progressions, beat dropouts, new instruments introduced every couple of measures or so for a solid minute including a distorted groovy synth and a variation on the bassline that gives the song a brief breakdown every once and a while (and it’s fresh every time). There’s also a piano melody, a return of the strings which occasionally stab the song with some extra energy and a few synths complimenting the bassline. All this and I’m sure I’m forgetting something because this song is so incredibly dense it’s impossible to go over it all. And this all builds up in barely a minute and a half, not even a quarter of the song. It’s then that the vocals kick in, as all of the instruments dance around dropping the title of the song. And despite the incredible variety of noises and sounds intruding and possibly polluting this song, it all fuses together so well that it turns out to be an intricate masterpiece. The vocals are able to remain in the spotlight with every single other element of this song playing just as strongly. And the instrumental break about three quarters into the song is especially incredible with the breakdown leading ack into the chorus. This is one of the best introductions to an album I’ve ever heard

 

And this isn’t even the best song on the album. There is so much more to come.

 

Andy Hunter & Mark Underdown – Stars (5): But unfortunately, I will admit that this album isn’t perfect, there are a few songs in here that are clearly lesser than the rest in my book. Oh, they’re not bad. It’s just that about half of the songs are so incredible (or at least great) that they leave songs like this in the dust. Unfortunately, this is one of the more popular songs in the album. Or at least, it’s the one that spawned a remix EP with seven remixes on it.

 

But I guess it’s just the type of song that lends itself best to being remixed (though I think a Smile remix would be quite possible as well, and definitely better, but that’s simply my opinion. Also, I’m getting ahead of myself). To give credit where credit is due, Stars is still a beautiful song with some good piano and guitar melodies that create a safe relaxing vibe throughout the song. But there isn’t much special here. There are some decent vocals from Mark Underdown (redundant last name is kind of redundant, but sometimes that’s just the way it is), as well as some lyricless female vocals that provide an extra layer of beauty to the song, but neither of them really strike me as interesting. My guess is that I’ve probably because I’ve heard these vocals way too many times while shuffling through Andy Hunter’s discography. The only other song that comes close is the four versions of Spiral, but that’s half as many versions of Stars.

 

The lyrics due provide a bit more depth than many of the songs on this album which just blurt out the title of the song Mark concentrates on admiring the beauty of the world we live in, and I’ll admit his lyrics do a good job of illustrating the wonders of this world. It’s something I should appreciate more instead of holing myself up on the World Wide Web. They don’t go extremely in depth but it is still a good message that saves this song from feeling too mediocre.

 

I’ll give this song a slightly above average score to give it the benefit of the doubt due to my overconsumption of “the stars in the sky,” but in most cases (unless Phonat is involved), I’d probably skip this one.

 

Andy Hunter & Shaz Sparks – Shine (6.25): Shine begins with glorious beauty with a quick stab announcing the gorgeous ambience joined together with Shaz’s vocals… and that’s the best part of the song right there, great job.

 

Ok, the rest of the song is still good. Shaz’s vocals are pleasantly refreshing to listen to, even if they’re not extremely different from the vocals in Stars (for all I know she could be the same singer as Stars’ female vocals are uncredited). They encapsulate beauty quite well and fit quite well with the ambience and slight groove this song has. Plus, the bell melody that’s added in about a minute into the song. But what else is there to mention? What else is there to talk about?

 

Not exceptionally much. The few lyrics this song has don’t have much depth at all, focusing on only five words, one of which is, of course, the title of the song. There’s not really a problem with that as Sound Pollution didn’t have an exceptional amount of depth with its lyrics either and I absolutely love that one. But Shine just doesn’t have the musical moxy to measure up to Sound Pollution in the slightest, causing it to fade into the background in comparison to most of the other songs on this album.

 

Andy Hunter – Miracle (6.5): Miracle is… strange…

 

Andy Hunter isn’t one to delve into the strange trippy category as much as some of my other favorite artists like Infected Mushroom (who I’ve reviewed a bit in the past) or Bliss (who I haven’t reviewed at all but give me some time, I will eventually), but it looks like he’s taken the opportunity this time around to combine lay some meandering vocals (from an unknown source) over a throbbing bassline, a soft, sometimes tropical drumbeat and… a washing machine? It sure sounds like a washing machine to me. Overall, this makes for a stranger experience than any other Andy Hunter song I’ve reviewed except maybe Show… Nope, still weirder than Show, but this one is also a bit better due to consistent quality, even if that quality is weird. Also, there’s some strings in the second half that give the song some beauty after a half time portion with the bassline (which is a welcome break from the throbbing that takes place in most of the song).

 

The lyrics themselves are pretty surface level again. Think of it as a simpler rendition of Stars’ theme. Life is beautiful. It’s a miracle. That’s what this song is in a nutshell. Life is also weird sometimes, but that’s okay.

 

Andy Hunter – System Error (8.25): The past few songs haven’t quite lived up to the energy of Sound Pollution. Stars was pretty much a pop song. Shine was a relaxing tune going for beauty rather than energy. Miracle was… Miracle. But here we have System Error, and make no mistake, we’re back into the strongest energetic portion of the album. Well, it doesn’t quite measure up to the masterpiece that is Sound Pollution, but it does have to offer many similarities harkening back to the introductory song (and by harkening back, I mean barely even twenty minutes ago), but that certainly doesn’t stop it from standing on its own.

 

System Error, unsurprisingly, involves the most distortion and glitched out instruments in the entire album. There’s a robotic voice repeating the song’s title through much of the song, serving as the centerpiece alongside the equally prominent main melody, played by a slightly off synth, which I love. It gives me chills every time I hear it especially when it combos with the piano, the other prominent melody. Other than that, we’ve got a couple of simple basslines (one rolling up and down in pitch and the other just sending rapid-fire notes into the air), and the syncopated drumbeat that serves as the true heart of this song’s energy. Oh, and there’s also tons of record scratching, giving the song an extra glitchy effect for the road.

 

The highlight of the song is the middle portion, in which the song takes its calm and highlight some previously unheard piano and strings, before re-introducing the other harsher elements of the song, creating that blend I love between the two stand out melodies. Plus, the whole concept of this song being a system error is quite enjoyable. So, this song definitely has the privilege of temporarily stealing second place of the songs so far on this album.

 

Andy Hunter & Midge Ure – Smile (8.5): And then Smile came along, stealing second place just as quickly as System Error had originally received it. This one comes bit closer to overthrowing Sound Pollution, but it doesn’t quite come close enough to Sound Pollution to overthrow it. But that’s perfectly fine. Smile is an entirely different song.

 

First thing you might notice about this song is the strings. The strings are easily my favorite nonvocal element of the song (not that the vocals are better, it’s somewhat of a tie actually). Not only are they beautiful as always, but these ones have a quite interesting groove throughout much of the song. In the first half they only make their presence known in the verses and sparsely in the chorus. It’s just a few short notes of beauty here and there, some of them flowing a bit more once we get to the chorus. Just a nice bit of beauty to contrast with the groovier bassline.

 

However, things change a bit in the second half of the song as we enter the bridge. No longer content to play only simple notes, the violin sees an area of silence between the vocals and grasps that chance to let its true beauty shine (no pun intended). Sure, it lets a short melody take the spotlight for a brief bit, but following that, it’s all long flowing notes from the violin leading into the chorus and then closing the song out. All in all, it’s a creative blend of beauty and funk: Beaunk… Nope don’t like that portmanteau. Moving on.

 

As I’ve already mentioned a couple of times, Smile has vocals. Not a minimal couple lines like most of the songs you’ve heard so far. You’ll need more than your two hands to count all the lines this song has to offer in comparison to the one hand needed for most of the songs so far. I mean, Stars has some variety in the lyrics department as well, but I’d rather not think of that song any more than I have to. The vocal performance in this one is much stronger anyway (though not the strongest in the album). The chorus is especially impressive as it contains a duality between two different singers, Andy (unless I’m wrong and that’s just Midge again) in the foreground and Midge in the back. It creates a nice echoed feeling to the main line of the song (which is “smiling” not smile as you’d expect). And both still have a unique feel to their performance, with Midge, being the better singer, reaching for much higher notes (high enough that I can’t properly handle so I’m just sitting back admiring the range) and Andy (unless I’m wrong and that’s just another recording of Midge as I’ve questioned before) aiming for a more mellow sound to carry the song.

 

This is a feel-good song, as you’d expect from such a positive title, so I’ll admit it’s not exactly my forte. The song definitely presents a Christian message that Andy Hunter uses throughout much of his discography (though sometimes in vaguer ways than others). It’s a rather simple one this time, focusing on the positive emotional influence God has on his life. Other songs in the future may get a little deeper in their lyrics, which may prove to be better. Is Smile about to lose its second place?

 

Andy Hunter & D’Morgan – Technicolour (9.5): Yup. Just as soon as Smile stole second place from System Error. Technicolour bumps it down to third. But this time is different. Technicolour isn’t stealing second place. Technicolour is the absolute best song on this album, my second favorite in the entire Andy Hunter discography. Lifelight still holds first place there and there is another song later in this album that comes very close (same rating, but not quite the same quality), but now is the time for Technicolour to shine (not the song) in the spotlight.

 

Everything that was fun about Smile has been multiplied tenfold. The groovy bassline now has a new energy, keeping up with an energetic drumbeat (which is somehow roughly the same tempo but feels significantly faster), with several subtle synths, including arps and your usual rolling bass synth. Oh, and if you want some true groove, you just gotta look at that guitar, which makes up much of the funk this song has to offer. The only thing Smile has over Technicolour is superior strings. But Technicolour has something else that more than makes up for it.

 

For the real star of the show is undeniably D’morgan’s vocals, this time not on par with the strings at all, but exceeding them. I have never in my life heard anyone have so much fun singing a song. The first signs of D’Morgan appear int the intro of the song, echoing slightly along with the rest of the instruments as they develop (mostly the basslines), but when he truly begins to receive a spotlight, he starts so calmly that doesn’t show any hint of what’s to come. The comparatively soft spoken verse are immediately taken over by a much more energetic and passionate chorus that follows the same groove as the rest of the song, making the quality of every single element to be quite equal.

 

But then we get to the bridge. The bridge changes everything. There is so much passion in these increasingly dynamic vocals. Reaching heights that I can’t help but get caught up in his zest for the music. I mean, there’s absolutely no way, my voice can do anything that D’Morgan is doing here. But I sure try (and fail). And that bridge isn’t even the limit of D’morgan’s power. After another Chorus, he immerses himself into the best vocal portion on the entire album.

 

As for lyrics, we’ve finally reached a song having to do with Colour. Took us long enough. Most of the lines in here do depict the more negative aspects of life, with blue likely referring to depression and black and white referring to the apathy that follows. But the song isn’t fully bleak as the ideal technicolour life remains in reach, allowing for a truly meaningful and fulfilling existence. And as he stops his search for answers in the dark and steps into the light, that technicolour world becomes a reality, changing his life for the insanely better.

 

Good meaningful lyrics, but the sound design and vocal performance outshine everything else.

 

Andy Hunter – Together (5.5): Unfortunately, the streak of fantastic music must come to a close. The last three songs were all amazing, especially the unforgettable Technicolour, but this one is the exact opposite. Together is forgettable. I’m not saying it’s bad or the worst on the album (though probably the reason I hold it above Stars is that Stars is unforgettable in how average it is and how many times I’ve heard it). Together is truly inoffensive though. The music is simple, focusing almost exclusively on ambience and one melody. There are admittedly some strings in the second half that provide a little bit of variety, but it’s not enough to save the song.

 

There are vocals though!… I don’t care for them. The vocal performance is rather flat (or maybe that’s because I just listened to the dynamic Technicolour) and the lyrics are practically empty of meaning. It’s a very simple love song not unlike the simplicity of Wonderful from the last album. But at least Wonderful had something interesting about it.

 

This has nothing.

 

Andy Hunter & Cathy Burton – Fade (8): Now, if you want you calm relaxing track to have meaning and display some true beauty, then this is the song for you. Fade is gorgeous. The strings at the beginning take on the other end of the emotional spectrum compared to how they were used in Smile and Technicolour. Here, it’s not used for energy or groove, but for its sheer beauty and soothing tone of relaxation. Paired with subtle echoing drums and some Gorgeous vocals from Cathy Burton (who you may or may not remember from Translucent off of the Exodus album I’d reviewed.

 

Speaking of comparisons to songs off of Exodus, I am noticing there is an amount of bass in this song that stands out a slight bit among the other relaxing beautiful elements that this song has. And if you’re a hardcore Red Hat Reviews fan, you may remember that back in that Exodus review, I’d referred to Show as the worst song in Andy Hunter’s discography due to it’s clashing basslines ruining it’s attempts at creating an otherwise relaxing track. But that was because the sound design refused to mesh well (and there was that annoying little beep that irked me so much every time it appeared).

 

But this bassline works. It meshes quite well with the sound design only coming to the forefront in short rising spurts that fit well with the rest of the soundscape. They don’t feel like they’re interrupting or overwhelming the rest of the song. They don’t feel like a distraction or an unnecessary detour from the song’s mood. It’s just an extra bit of flavor in the verses that also appears subtly in the chorus.

 

But most importantly is the emotional meaning behind these lyrics. This one is probably one of the more undeniably religious songs on the album along with Smile and You. There is definitely a correlation between the darkness that occurs when the colour fades and the darkness that overtakes one’s life when one wanders from God and the peace one finds when they return. Seeing as peace is what I’d consider to be one of my main goals in life, I do quite enjoy this song. True peace is hard to come by, especially these days…

 

Overall, Fade is definitely a solid song and proves to be one of the most soothing and relaxing.

 

Andy Hunter – Sapphire (9.75): But then there’s Sapphire. Sapphire is absolutely gorgeous and probably one of the most soothing tracks I’ve ever heard in my life. It is also very difficult to review. Sapphire is a pure feeling. There are some vocals in there, though not lyrical. There’s a beautiful collection of piano melodies that make up the majority of the emotional impact that this song has as it climbs towards the end (though the vocals definitely help). And there’s a slow solemnly soft drumbeat and some deep ambience to back it all up.

 

But how do I truly describe Sapphire. How can I capture the immense beauty and peace of this track and put it into words? How do I truly explain how this song always can bring me to a stable state of mind whenever I listen to it? To be perfectly honest, I have no idea. This song isn’t just a piece of music. It is an emotion. It is the closest thing to peace that I’ve ever heard.

 

Listening to this more and more, I’ve come to the conclusion that I was wrong about saying Technicolour was my second favorite song of Andy Hunter’s. I was wrong to say that this song didn’t quite measure up to Technicolour. Because this song is absolutely beautiful and the only thing that can hold a candle to Lifelight.

 

Andy Hunter – Out of Control (7.5): And now for, something completely different. It’s funny how the most relaxing song on the album is immediately followed by what is possibly the most energetic song on the album. Just as the title would suggest, Out of Control is quite out of control in comparison to many of the other songs in this album. It starts off immediately with an oscillating synth that sounds like a soft siren of sorts, politely warning of the quick paced action up ahead. What quick paced action? Why the main bassline of course! The bassline is thrown into the song almost immediately after the sirens start to blare (softly). is fast, with an almost arpeggiated feel to it. Sure, it starts off soft, but it ends up building up to the become the backbone to the most energetic track on the album (sans Sound Pollution, that one’s hard to beat), especially when it starts rolling out the chord progression.

 

But the bassline isn’t my favorite part. You know what I love? Those vocals. I mean the name drop isn’t too special other than the fact that I like the distorted tone and all, but those da-da-da-da-da-das are incredibly enjoyable. They’ve got a groove to them and an overall fun tone. Really gives that song the bit of flavor it needs. There’s another melody in there as well which helps round out the song, but I don’t really have much to say about it other than the fact that I don’t have much to say about it…

 

Moving on!

 

Andy Hunter – You (6.25): And so, for our album’s finale we have You. Not You, the reader. You, the song. It’s a decent song. Certainly not bad at all. It’s definitely more memorable than… Not Separated? That was, the name of the song, right? Ah well, that’s irrelevant. What’s important is that this song now is a bit more memorable than whatever it was I was just talking about a second ago, but I wouldn’t come to this album specifically for this song.

 

See, this song does have some stuff to offer. It does follow somewhat of a similar structure to the beginning of Out of Control at first. But let me be clear, I’m only talking about the first bit. You know the drill. Start with some kind of fitting ambience and then introduce a decently bassline that you can buildup over time. At about a minute in, switch it up by adding a chord progression. And after that? Uh… hmmmm… a piano melody would be nice. I do love me a good piano melody. A piano melody can often be the highlight of a song such as this one. Probably drop out the beat for the first bit of that piano melody so it can get some good focus. Maybe add a few synths in there as the song is approaching its end, providing a last-minute touch-up of variety. Nothing too significant though. Keep the song consistent, you know?

 

What was I talking about again? Oh yeah, You. Not You, the person reading this review, but You, the conclusive song of Andy Hunter’s third album. Hmmmm. Well it’s a bit long, first of all, longest song on the album actually, clocking at about seven minutes. I honestly don’t think it deserves such a length as it doesn’t go on all that much of a journey to justify that time. This song could have done just fine as a song of about four or five minutes (making Sound Pollution and Technicolour the longest songs on the album, which sounds perfectly fine to me). There are some vocals in there as well, depicting some vague worship lyrics that do nothing more than declare God the eternal trinity. It’s a fine song, but considering that there are three songs in this album that reach a score of 9 and higher, this one will go down as being kind of forgettable but not as forgettable as that other song I reviewed not long ago called “Two Things in the Same Place”… Yeah, that must have been what it was called.

 

Conclusion: This is probably the most divided of the Andy Hunter albums for me. Sure, neither of the previous ones were perfect. Exodus had Show, and Life had Open My Eyes… Actually, Open My Eyes was pretty decent, it just paled in comparison to the rest of the album as that was Andy Hunter’s best (and I could have probably given that more love than I did despite it already being my top-rated album so far).

 

But Colour had multiple flops. Stars and Together were painfully average. And Shine and You didn’t really fare that much better. And yet, there were also several gems on this album too, from the spectacular intro that is Sound Pollution to the overwhelmingly groovy Technicolour to the captivatingly beautiful Sapphire. Those songs truly deserve better. But as it is, this album does dip in quality from Life. Not to low. I’m rating it the same as Genesis, but it’s clear that Life was the highlight of Andy Hunter’s career.

 

Final Score: (7.5/10)

Thyx – Super Vision (2014 album)

Album links

Bandcamp: n/a

Soundcloud: n/a

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/5aXV1Y6cXl16zqlvGD9NKd?si=Lg6MMEbrTOOX6VQM983xtA

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_n8CBSooWqwMoKIK6Pd68vAuNqtjHenCeo

 

 

Introduction: It’s Thyx again! This way I can maybe maintain an illusion of not overloading you entirely with Mind.in.a.box! Is it working? I even skipped the usual “Last Time on Thyx” Joke to try and disguise the density of my Mind.in.a.box reviews. Did you know I’m reviewing Mind.in.a.box a lot? Well worry not. I think I am about half caught up with Mind.in.a.box over all so eventually I may have to give the man a break from reviews (until there’s a new release). But for now, let’s bring out the magnifying glass and give a close inspection of Thyx’s third album, Super Vision.

 

 

 

Thyx – Intro (6): Ok, I shan’t be too long on this one. This intro, after all, only lasts a minute, and there’s really very little interesting standout content that differs from any other album intro I’ve ever heard. I mean, at least with the one other short intro I’ve reviewed (“Welcome to Scatland”), there were some words establishing the theme of the album. This, however, is just some slight cinematics with a common arp. Overall, there isn’t really too much for a reason for this song to exist. It’s only a minute long and the next song begins with the exact same arp. I guess this song could be argued to set the mood for the rest of the album, but it just feels a bit unnecessary. The rest of the album sets the mood for itself, and with some edgy vocals and lyrics from the later songs on the album, it doesn’t quite match this victorious cinematic intro.

 

It just doesn’t quite fit.

 

But perhaps I’m being a small bit unfair. Album context, while definitely worth noting, shouldn’t fully affect a song’s quality. And if you ignore the context, this song does sound quite good. There is a slight bit of suspense here and it does have a great build. It just doesn’t really have the time to go anywhere and really explore the thematic mood it begins to express here. Bit I guess that’s what the next song is for.

 

Also, fun fact, since I’d spent so much time talking about this short intro, longer than I’d expected, you could easily finish listening to it before you finish actually reading about it here. “Shan’t spent too long on this one” indeed.

 

Thyx – Will They Learn? (8): Like I said in the last song, our second song of the album (or first if you only want to count full length songs), begins quite similarly to the preceding intro. It has the exact same arp. It has a very similar melody with the only difference being the instrumentation. The similarities don’t last long though, as the cinematic drums are completely absent, replaced with that good ol’ syncopated drumbeat I know and love. Sorry, Intro, but Will They Learn? is an incredibly significant improvement.

 

And that’s not even mentioning all of the other interesting elements that make this song stand out significantly in comparison to the last. Instead of cinematic drums, there’s an eerie synths that explodes into existence only fifteen seconds in, creating a chilling atmosphere that’s present throughout the rest of the track. Now this is an intro to the rest of the album. One small difference completely changes the mood and it matches quite well with this song. Also, as with plenty of Mind.in.a.box songs, there’ some great distorted vocals, these ones providing more variety than usual. Nearly every voice of Poiss is accounted for. The verses with a slightly nihilistic view on the crumbling world exclusively feature the edgier gritty side of Poiss’ vocals, not completely guttural, but certainly not clean either. The verses of existential pondering and perhaps hope, however, feature a mixture of the highly distorted robotic voice and the cleaner victorious vocals that suit Poiss best. And it’s this variety that really immerses me in the song the most.

 

But it’s not just about how the vocals sound. It’s also about what these vocals talk about. I’ve givn a slight hint to this song’s lyrical content already. A mixture of a nihilistic outlook on the state of society while still trying to keep hope that one day, we’ll find a way to live in peace. Again, this is a common theme in many of the artists I obsess over, likely because I agree that society isn’t in the most fantastic place yet and something needs to be done about all this division. The verses focus on wanting no part in a broken society, hunkering down, knowing that the storm will always come. But the verses envision a society in which peace and some sort of agreement can be found. Sure, there will always be some form of disagreement, but if the ideal of peaceful disagreement can be found, we’d all be better off.

 

But for now, this is all a hope, a question of possibility. It might not happen any time soon, but we must have hope that it will happen in the future.

 

Only if we work for it.

 

Thyx – Robots Don’t Lie (8.5): Apparently robots are quite truthful and incredibly trustworthy. That’s what the title of this song implies. It also implies that humans are liars by default and I can definitely see where such an idea comes from. Everyone lies. Not robots though. Robots don’t lie.

 

Robots are all about those arps and distorted vocals (Oh wow, the song praising robots uses the robotic voice, who would have guessed?). Of course, you also have to have a bassline and some great melodies to finish the song off. Seriously, most of the song is rather simple in its variety, but those last few melodies really do feel quite refreshing and unique compared to the rest of the song. Nothing wrong with everything else, the mood the rest of the song creates is great, but the last bit is exceptional.

 

While the song may be titled “Robot’s Don’t Lie,” the lyrics themselves seem to focus more on the idea that humans do lie. And that’s perfectly acceptable in my book. Maybe even better as I can relate a bit more to being a human than to being a robot. Because that’s what I definitely am. I am definitely a human and in no way could I be anything else that would be suspicious in any way. I may lie sometimes (because I’m human), but I assure you that I’m not lying right now. That’s definitely for certain.

 

This song explores how we hide our true selves constantly, placing some sort of filter on ourselves depending on who we’re around, constantly shrouding bits and pieces of our identity in the darkness, invisible to the eyes of an outsider. Only in rare cases will the truth be revealed, if ever. At least, that’s how I view this common, yet clever deception. For all I know I could be the strange one, a strange human that is. I don’t want to create any confusion that might imply that I’m not human. Because I am human.

 

But this is a false inauthentic way of living, hiding constantly from the truth, sometimes deceiving our own selves to be something we’re not. And if enough lies are told, it can definitely become an unhealthy lifestyle in my opinion (or maybe I just despise inauthenticity). It’s only when you remove the shroud and bare the soul that feels so dead that you can truly revive yourself. Inauthenticty is poison. Don’t give in.

 

Because otherwise, if we continue to lie, we will fall and the robots will take over the world creating a society of constant truth and as someone who is definitely human and certainly not a robot or anything else, I have to say that I definitely am not a fan of the idea of humans going extinct in favor of robots. That doesn’t favor me in any way, nosiree.

 

Thyx – Für Immer (6.5): As horrifying as the impending fall of humanity would be, Robots Don’t Lie, doesn’t sound nearly as ominous as Für Immer, a song covered in foreboding ambiance and the grittiest foreign vocals, all of it depicting an inescapable cult. Für Immer means forever. And to be lsot forever within this enigmatic emotionless cult sounds to be a nightmare. If there’s a THYX universe that I don’t know of, this makes White and his Agency of Stalkers look like small potatoes.

 

Thanks to the bridge, it does sound like perhaps a revolution within the cult as the people stand up against those still loyal to the cult. Whether, this revolution is successful remains to be determined. Of course, this could just as easily be some sort of propaganda as the cult may tend to adopt those who feel betrayed and outcast by society. I’m going to go with the latter. After all, if this cult is forever inescapable, then a revolution sounds quite infeasible.

 

Cryptic inescapable cults working in the shadows aside, this song doesn’t do much beyond the intro to set the mood for this song. The ominous ambience combined with the foreign vocals that remain to be deciphered unless you speak German (or have convenient access to Google Translate). But after that, the song doesn’t really much go beyond the typical arpeggiated vibe that’s essential to Poiss’ projects. The drumbeat is a bit irregular, but other than that, it’s pretty nonexceptional. Good and creepy concept, but that’s about it.

 

Thyx – Waiting For You (7.5): The lyrics in this song are… vague… I don’t really mind them, but they feel quite like they’re trying to tell some sort of story of a man searching for someone during an apocalypse in which much of mankind has likely died off, soon to fade into history forever. And so, the singer scours the world looking for… someone. Probably another human. Though for all I know he might not be human himself (unlike me because I most definitely am human and there’s no reason to think otherwise). Regardless, the one he is waiting for is gone and may never come back. That’s pretty much the entire story. Pretty simple. Not all that though provoking (except maybe for the idea of mankind’s disappearance. That sounds fascinating. I want more)

 

Thankfully, the music in this more than makes up for the lack of lyrical content. The song really has a good old school trance vibe with a hard hitting well tempoed drumbeat driving the song forward as well as an arp to match. It develops quite well, becoming more intense over time as the arp becomes bassier and the technological influences of Poiss’ usual work begin to take over. However the intensity does take a couple of short breaks now and then with a quite calming section about three minutes in where the drumbeat drops out in favor of some more focus on the vocals and ambience (and then creating a build-up from nothing, haven’t mentioned one of those in quite a while). There’s very similar break at the end with one last utterance of the song’s title, ending the song on a note of longing.

 

Waiting.

 

Thyx – Don’t Let Yourself Go (7.75): Don’t Let Yourself Go is perhaps the most easygoing song on this album. Most of the song lends itself to a near bass solo with only some essentials like a drumbeat and some ambience accompanying it. Oh, and also a small few lines of vocals, but they don’t lend themselves to much discussion this time around, going no deeper than the song title. The title still displays a good message what with the importance of self-identity and all, but there are other songs in which I have gone more in depth into this topic and there will also be other songs in the future that allow me to explore this concept. For now, I’d rather focus on the slightly ominous introduction that this song begins with. Extra focus on the bassline, means there’s quite little room for any uplifting sounds to break through. Plus Poiss’ vocals here are barely above a whisper which only add to the implied threat of a tune most of this song displays…

 

Most of the song…

 

For in the last third, the song takes a much more uplifting approach, adding a couple of new melodies with a joyful cadence that contrast so well with the bleakness preceding their introduction. Most prominently, there’s a guitar playing the melody of this portion. It isn’t overzealously energetic. It simply plays a few notes during its tenure in the song while taking a short break every fourth measure for a piano to take over for a couple brief seconds. This last third is incredibly refreshing in comparison to the darker basslines overtaking the majority of the song and it really sends that simple motion of holding on to one’s self- identity close, even in the darkest moments.

 

Because there will be light.

 

Thyx – Loyalty (4.75): Not to be confused with Mind.in.a.box – Loyalty, though they are produced by the exact same person. I’ve already reviewed the one by Mind.in.a.box and this is completely different. First off, the Mind.in.a.box version of loyalty has a narrative attached to it. Thyx isn’t about that. More importantly, when Black’s loyalty is betrayed back in Dreamweb, he breaks it off, refusing to trust again. However, in this one, the betrayal takes a different. Even when betrayed, this singer’s loyalty remains unbroken despite his desires to let go. Now, I’m not exactly certain of the context of the relationship these two have, but it sounds to be quite a toxic situation to me. The singer here is defeated, trapped in a misery he can’t escape from. And frankly, that causes this song to lose a lot of points in my book.

 

Alternatively, there might very well be a third unseen party in this story. Perhaps we’re not speaking of betrayal this time, but the absence thereof. What if, instead of our singer refusing to break his loyalty to the one who betrayed him, he is instead refusing to break the loyalty to another despite the urges of another. He is instead steadfast to his true values, regardless of his temptations to abandon them.

 

And yet he’s still resigned towards misery… So not exactly inspiring… The song still suffers.

 

And unfortunately, the music isn’t really exceptional enough for me to give it any recovery from its subpar lyrical analysis. It’s fine but it feels like the bare minimum for a Mind.in.a.box/Thyx song. It’s got his vocals with some minor distortion. And a few matching synths with an equal amount of distortion. But arpwork? Absent. Any sort of energy or immersion? Absent. Any reason to return to this song? Absent.

 

So yeah, they can’t all be winners. Probably the worst Poiss song of all actually.

 

Thyx – Our Only Home (7.5): After the most depressing bleak song on the album, let’s take a look at something completely different! Our Only Home begins with cleanest most peaceful vibe ever. No grit, just calming piano backed up by the softest arp and drumbeat possible. And other than the whispers of the song’s title, there’s absolutely no sign of the unedited vocals that took up the brunt of Loyalty. It’s all the brightly distorted vocals describing the world we live in and how important it is to keep it alive. Yup this song is environmental. Not a problem with that. I too, am a fan of trying to make this world we live in last as long as possible. I’ve got some goals I’d lie to achieve in my lifetime, so I’d really appreciate it if we could make this place last another century or so. Humanity’s extinction would be really inconvenient for me, seeing as I’m human and all. Any other possibility would be a lie. And as we all know, I don’t lie. I mean I could because as a human, I’m definitely capable of lying but I don’t.

 

Human treehugging aside, I do very much enjoy the refreshment that this song has to offer in a mostly darker sounding album (and discography for that matter). And it does so without sacrificing the technological vibe that’s iconic to Poiss’ work. There’s still that underlying arp that structures the song nicely and a small bridge with a synth that provides a slight bit of MIAB spice without feeling too out of place.

 

This song is simply pure.

 

Thyx – Believe (8): Five songs ago, we had Robots Don’t Lie, a song about how authenticity is so uncommon and how a common weakness among all of mankind is hiding our true selves. Believe is the absolute antithesis to that, focusing on looking for authenticity within humanity. Digging deep into the layers of lies that deceive ourselves and others. We have to try and find the truth. Something to believe in. Let go of all deception and remain true to ourselves. Only then, can we truly succeed.

 

Overzealous passion for authenticity aside, this song, while more authentically sound, than Robots Don’t lie, just isn’t quite as musically interesting. Oh, I still quite enjoy this song and would place the music on its own well above the music from Loyalty (And when you compare lyrics, then there’s no contest). It’s just a bit too overly simple for my tastes. Same slow arpeggio over and over throughout the song. And there’s a good syncopated drumbeat that’s nice, but these two elements simply can’t carry the whole song. The lyrics thankfully save it, significantly improving my opinion of the song.

 

Thyx – Forgotten (9): The penultimate track of this album is absolutely fantastic and definitely my favorite Thyx song so far. It’s not even inspiring or anything. It’s just got that odd Mind.in.a.box narrative vibe that fascinates me so much. Either two options arise from this song’s existence. It could be a rejected storyline from the main Mind.in.a.box story following a different character than our main Man in Black. Or perhaps, I’ve been underestimating Thyx’s purpose. Could there be a separate narrative here that I don’t know of? Either way, the short story that this song is telling gives me chills. The singer this time around is likely a robot of some sort. Either that or their thermometer is extremely precise, let alone that the temperature, if Celsius, sounds insufferable hot. Then again, perhaps I’m spoiled by northern US temperature. I’m getting distracted by making a huge deal of this all too accurate. Of course, despite accurate temperature signifying a robot, I’ve never heard of a robot riding a bike either. Regardless, this character, be they mechanical or flesh and blood, seems to be wandering the desert all alone, desperately trying to find more of his kind. He sends out a worldwide broadcast, begging any who hears to answer. Whether or not an answer is received remains to be seen.

 

Thyx – Every Time (8.25): Listen, this is a good song and all, but I kind of wish the previous song was the finale. The way the song gives me chills with that final “Transfer Complete” would have been an amazing way to close the album on par with the two Mind.in.a.box albums I have yet to review (Really looking forward to 5ynchr0ni73 and Command: Decode. Those songs are on a level of chilling storytelling unparalleled by anything else other than the Machine Run/Redefined dichotomy and maybe Dead End).

 

Sorry about that, I guess I enjoyed Forgotten so much that it overflowed into the next song. Fittingly enough, Every Time is about unrealistic expectations, such as the unrealistic expectation that this could at all compare to Forgotten. It’s a good song and it does deserve its own praise as it does stand out as perhaps the grittiest edgiest song of the album (excluding the toxicity of Loyalty, which was less of a gritty experience and really just sad). Plus, every instrument stands out quite well here. There’s quite a variety of drumbeats in here, none of it following the typical driving 4 on 4 pattern and the chorus has some great guitar riffs that contrast well with the grittier verses. And that’s not even mentioning the arpwork in the second half of this song, which was strangely missing from a lot of THYX’s work this time around. This is probably one of the best songs musically on the album.

 

And the lyrics are quite relatable as well, exploring the overwhelming desire for the perfection demanded from every direction, authority, peers and even from within one’s self. Just like true authenticity, this confidence sabotage is another issue that I’ve found a bit overbearing sometimes. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed with trying to perfect certain aspects of yourself like living an efficient life and rising up to other’s expectations, regardless of whether or not these expectations are true to your authentic self (It all circles back).

 

Conclusion: This album does roughly match the quality of other THYX albums. All of them seem to be getting the same rating, though Headless remains to be seen. I end up enjoying it a bit less than typical Mind.in.a.box. This album in particular is a bit divided, with a few songs rated a bit lower than I’d typically desire for Poiss’ work. Especially Loyalty. That song was such a disappointment. Thankfully though, many of the other songs like Robots Don’t Lie and Forgotten made up for that mistake and proved this album worthy of checking out. But I could say that about both the Mind.in.a.box and Thyx discography

 

Final Score: (7.5/10)

Daily Hat Tracks: June and July 2019

Here’s a double Daily Hat Track wrap up for both June and July. Due to motivational issues, I had done a poor job of keeping up on these until last week. And because of that, I’ve decided to just slide the Hat Tracks from July over to June. So today you’re getting one large post reviewing about 5 dozen smaller posts I’ve Tweeted over the past 2 months. Let’s all agree (and by all, I mean just me. I’m the only one in control here) to never let things get out of hand again.

 

Daily Hat Track: June 1 (Yahel – Fear of The Dark (DNA Remix))

 

A psytrance remix of a breaks cover of an Iron Maiden song. Neat. Now all we need to do is mash it up with jazz or something like that.

 

Daily Hat Track: June 2 (Veorra – Run)

 

Veorra’s most popular track is about the never-ending run as we struggle to keep with society’s expectations. Surprisingly not my favorite but still well deserved.

 

Daily Hat Track: June 3 (Celldweller – End of an Empire)

 

I promised I wouldn’t overwhelm the blog with Celldweller again for a while but I can squeeze the occasional awesome societal existential track from the far future of my reviews. This is among the best Celldweller songs.

 

Daily Hat Track: June 4 (The Crüxshadows – Deception)

 

Honestly, I just love how this particular song from my extra edgy phase is held up by the violin. Lyrics aren’t too shabby, but it’s clear what the best part of the song is for me nowadays (hint: it’s the violin)

 

Daily Hat Track: June 5 (Forest Knot – Hendrix)

 

Is this Hat Track late because I am severely disorganized or is it early because this lovely chill sax song wasn’t released until the 7th?

 

Daily Hat Track: June 6 (Bassfactor – The Power Inside)

 

This recent breaks/psytrance combo got me out of breath when running to my recent dentist’s appointment. Bassfactor seems to be brand new to the scene but I’m definitely looking forward to future works.

 

Daily Hat Track: June 7 (Test Shot Starfish – In the Shadow of Giants)

 

Music from Space indeed. I’ve only just begun looking at Test Shot Starfish’s discography and I’m already enjoying this chill mood that sounds as if it’s descended to Earth from the cosmos.

 

Daily Hat Track: June 8 (Carface – Hitchin’ a Ride)

 

Definitely take a listen to the self-destructive 13 minute experience. That’s all I’m willing to say here, other than a warning that this may get a little strange.

 

C H E C K T H E T A P E

 

Daily Hat Track: June 9 (redo) (Globus – Europa)

 

That’s no typo. This two month old Hat Track was accidentally a repeat, so now I’m going to share the vocal version of Electric Romeo which depicts war over history

 

Daily Hat Track: June 10 (Rezonate – Canvas)

 

I’m not sure how, but outside of the “still 18” line, this song of existential pondering gets more and more relatable every summer.

 

Daily Hat Track: June 11 (Pegboard Nerds – Emergency)

 

Hard to believe that this came out over four years ago. Every once and a while I come back to these nostalgic Monstercat songs and find myself amazed at how well they hold up. This one was, is, and always will be a banger to me

 

Daily Hat Track: June 12 (Rogue – Night After Night)

 

Knights on Horseback ride in and are allowed in the distance by a chariot, basically a parade float of a giant Monstercat logo. They get off their horses and flank a crystal throne. The chariot makes its way in and a young man dre

 

Daily Hat Track: June 13 (Aphex Twin – Vordhosbn)

 

Release Radar screwed with me saying this was new, but it’s really a 2 decade old song placed on a compilation that was released recently. But that’s fine. Aphex Twin is always a treat.

 

Daily Hat Track: June 14 (Camo & Krooked – Black or White & Tasha Baxter (Kimyan Law remix)

 

Favorite remix of my favorite Camo & Krooked track. Why? It’s complex, it’s mysterious, it has an edge of unsettlement. And it still uses the lyrics of anti-division and the grey area in between opposing ideals.

 

Daily Hat Track: June 15 (Gunship, Tim Capello & Indiana – Dark All Day

 

Saxophone.

 

Also there’s that music video with vampire zombies and lots of hot people and it’s the best animated music video ever

 

But saxophone.

 

Daily Hat Track: June 16 (The Flashbulb – Undiscovered Colors)

 

A gorgeous trippy song, both fast and slow once the drums start. Piano, strings and a drumbeat full of mysterious energy. Each moment is both unique and fantastically similar at the same time. This song is the best kind of paradox

 

Daily Hat Track: June 17 (Gunship – When You Grow Up Your Heart Dies)

 

I know I posted Gunship not too long ago, but the song immediately following Dark All Day (while not as great cuz less sax) does have a message of trying to hold on to your identity as you grow up. I need this these days.

 

Daily Hat Track: June 18 (Haywyre – Sculpted)

 

Heading back in time today to an early Haywyre song exploring the existential questions of self identity, whether nature or nurture applies and exactly how much control we have over who we are. Also it’s hella funky.

 

Daily Hat Track: June 19 (Pegboard Nerds & lug00ber – Bring Me Joy

 

Probably my favorite modern Pegboard Nerds track. The second half is especially energetic with the best piano melodies and arps. Honestly, there’s nothing deep about this song. It’s just fun.

 

Daily Hat Track: June 20 (Bicep – Rain)

 

I’m reviewing my favorite arpeggiated artist right now, but I’ll honestly enjoy any song that had even the mildest arpeggiated feel. Recently I’ve discovered Bicep and the simple drive of a song called Rain.

 

Daily Hat Track: June 21 (Alex – Demons):

 

Hey, that’s my name right there. Some nice slow synthwave. Good relaxing vibe despite the ominous demonic title.

 

Daily Hat Track: June 22 (Rival Consoles – Amiga)

 

Arpeggiated madness in the second quarter, flawless tempo change in the third quarter. I mean, I love the beginning and end of the song as well, but that middle half is absolutely spectacular.

 

Daily Hat Track: June 23 (Rival Consoles – Guitari)

 

Can I share two Rival Consoles songs in a row? Because I also really like the funky vibe that Guitari gives me and I really want to share this one too. It’s got nothing on Amiga but it’s still great.

 

Daily Hat Track: June 24 (Joachim Pastor – Joda (Worakls remix)

 

Oh the strings and piano on this one are absolutely gorgeous. Yeah all of hungry music is great, but when the upper two thirds (sorry N’to) join forces I expect nothing less than a masterpiece. And they definitely delivered.

 

Daily Hat Track: June 25 (Koan – Coastline)

 

Someone rinsed me of Koan today so here I am sharing one of my favorite beautiful, relaxing, and immersive journeys from Loan. Enjoy.

 

Daily Hat Track: June 26 (Lange – Violins Revenge (Light Mix))

 

Violins revenge is quite simply a track that utilizing the violin masterfully. That’s all I’ve got to say for this one.

 

Daily Hat Track: June 27 (N’to – The Morning After)

 

I’ve always liked all of Hungry Music but I’ve considered N’to to often be one of the weaker links of the trio. However his most recent release is making me appreciate him a bit more.

 

Daily Hat Track: June 28 (Lange – Crossroads (Percussive Mix))

 

Not as good as the Mindinabox song titled Crossroads of course but still a great track about making choices that can change one’s life forever. Beautiful from Lange as always.

 

Daily Hat Track: June 29 (Infected Mushroom – Kebabies)

 

This New Infected Mushroom track released recently really has a BP Empire vibe to it.

 

Daily Hat Track: June 30 (Assemblage 23 – Drive)

 

The demons I’m driving from is procrastination fueled depression and depression fueled procrastination. I must change that.

 

Good song from Assemblage 23 though. A futurepop artist I have yet to introduce you all to, until now.

 

Daily Hat Track: July 1 (Dance With The Dead – Diabolic)

 

It’s 2 in the morning so I should be in the bed but here’s some late night synthwave for anyone who’s still up for some reason. Unless you’re British or something, then your wakefulness makes sense.

 

Daily Hat Track: July 2 (Koan – Uncloak (Ghost Rider remix))

 

I’ve shared a couple of Koan track’s but this right here was the moment of Koan discovery. Yes, it’s a Ghost Rider remix but that’s just what happens when you’re a psytrance maniac like myself. Beautiful track though.

 

Daily Hat Track: July 3 (Lauren Bousfield – Slow Slicing (Klonopin))

 

Really running behind on everything. Here’s a small step towards catching up with some trippy Lauren Bousfield combined with some wonderful strings.

 

Daily Hat Track: July 4 (Makeup & Vanity Set – Implant)

 

Makeup and Vanity Set had a good variety of synthwave, some upbeat and some slower. So here’s one for starters that I’ve listen to a few times recently due to its arps, simplistic melodies and occasional relaxing vibes.

 

Daily Hat Track: July 5 (Durs – Avalance)

 

I’m always up for loving some Spin Twist psytrance so seeing a whole new Durs album. Is quite enjoyable. Good use of that psychedelic pluck in both the calmer and driving portions of the song. Plus a few fun little vocal parts.

 

Daily Hat Track: July 6 (BT – Tokyo)

 

BT isn’t as consistent as Flashbulb but there’s still some good trippy chill in the BT discography

 

Daily Hat Track: July 7 (BT – Artifacture VI. Niente di Tutto Qualcosa)

 

Sometimes I wonder…

 

Daily Hat Track: July 8 (Chicane – Come Tommorrow)

 

Spiritually introspective or existential observations of society… Perhaps it’s both, perhaps it’s neither and I’m projecting. But the song captivates regardless.

 

Daily Hat Track: July 9 (In Uchronia – Growling Earth)

 

Guess I’m in some sort of orchestral cinematic mood as of late. I mean this has nothing in common with that Varien in album other than it being a bit cinematic with a slight bit of dubstep but both are still amazing

 

Daily Hat Track: July 10 (Haken – The Endless Knot)

 

Trying to expand slightly beyond my electronically dominated comfort zone, so here’s a bit of prog metal that I’d recently found. Of course the fact this song has a lot of focus on finding life’s meaning, I’m automatically into it

 

Daily Hat Track: July 11 (Zimmz – Sinematic)

 

For the most part this is just a track with a solid drive, but you know I love me some Hungry music. Not his is Hungry music. It just resembles hungry music. Also this one has an accelerating build-up, so you know, awesome.

 

Daily Hat Track: July 12 (Sokrates & Supersonic – Stardust)

 

I know that this is like every trance song but the message of our relationship to the universe in this one really gets to me, yaknow? Also there’s a fantastic syncopated breaks section in there so that’s always cool.

 

Daily Hat Track: July 13 (Noma – Brain Power)

 

I know this song is a meme of old, but it still bangs hard. Love the extra slow chaotic dubstep section that eventually transforms into DnB spoon after.

 

Daily Hat Track: July 14 (Bliss – La Resistance)

 

Lyrics are a bit more violent than the last psytrance song I Daily Hat Tracked, but I love Bliss’ psytrance style so much, I don’t even mind. Dude is one of my favorite psytrance artists behind Infected Mushroom and perhaps Neelix

 

Daily Hat Track: July 15 (Wolfgang Gartner – Illmerica)

 

Second attempt at sharing this song due to unreliable technology. I’m lazy and pissed so here’s a bullet point list of what I wanted to say

 

A: Good funky vibe

B: Nostalgia because dead community

C: Should listed to Wolfgang more

 

Daily Hat Track: July 16 (Arctic Moon – Cyberpunk)

 

Good trance song with a lovely title as I associate cyberpunks with fantastic because I love Mindinabox. It sounds nothing like Mindinabox but the distorted vocals and heartbeat are still cool.

 

Daily Hat Track: July 17 (Bionix – Genesis)

 

Lots of psytrance I know, but it is one of my favorite genres after all. you’re going to half to deal with it. Besides this one has inspirational speed he’s up to par with Bliss – Warriors and I love that one and this by extension

 

Daily Hat Track: July 18 (Rezz & The Rigs – Lonely)

 

I haven’t really delved into the rest of Rezz’s new EP yet as I’m usually more attracted to the more existential vocal tracks than the instrumentals, but this is the best Rezz since Melancholy so that’s pretty fantastic.

 

Daily Hat Tracks: July 19 (Aesthetic Perfection – The Ones)

 

Surprisingly, this isn’t the only song I know that discusses how difficult it is to fall asleep when you’re too bust fearing that someone is gonna come and steal your teeth. And the other one isn’t even by the same band.

 

Daily Hat Track: July 20 (Stephen Walking – Porkchop Express)

 

Here’s a fun doubly nostalgiac tune from Mr Walking. Not only does it.bring me back to 2015, but the song itself also vaguely reminds me of a video game from my childhood. That bouncy piano is just a pleasure to listen to.

 

Daily Hat Track: July 21 (Night Club – Survive)

 

Beautiful suspenseful paranoid existential music is how I survive.

 

Daily Hat Track: July 22 (Grabbitz – Way Too Deep)

 

The chorus of this song has been all too relatable lately. Definitely Grabbitz’s best along with Better With Time.

 

Daily Hat Track: July 23 (Malecka – Rhéa)

 

Another gorgeous progressive house song that reminds me of Hungry Music without actually being Hungry Music. I find myself enjoying these beauties often due to how calming they are.

 

Daily Hat Track: July 24 (In Uchronia – Asconoid Hyperdelicacy of Heroicalness)

 

The main reason I want to share this one is because the title implies that the album’s titular iron squid is eating heroes alive. The fact that the song itself, is a great fusion of rock, orchestral and dubstep is just a bonus.

 

Daily Hat Track: July 25 (Phaxe & Morten Granau – Lost)

 

Can’t keep me away from the existneital psytrance forever. This one is about feeling lost in the world, though I guess that one was pretty obvious from the title.

 

Daily Hat Track: July 26 (Notaker – The Storm)

 

One of the better Notaker songs. In fact, I say this is the only one that can measure up to his Monstercat debut, Infinite.

 

Daily Hat Track: June 27 (Crazy Astronaut – Sate)

 

I’ve already shared my favorite Crazy Astronaut track on here a while back but here’s number 2, the main synth holds a lot of energy even in the slower dubstep portion. Actually, especially in the slower dubstep portion.

 

Daily Hat Track: July 28 (Mystical Complex – Future Nation)

 

Here’s a psytrance song pondering the future. Original idea? Not exactly. But the music is quite impressive anyways and I can’t help but always be impressed by psytrance like this. It’s in my bones.

 

Daily Hat Track: July 29 (Francys – Arcenial)

 

Evenly driven, mysterious, slightly trippy, beautiful, soothingly calming. All things I hungrily enjoy.

 

This isn’t just a pun on Hungry Music . I legitimately need to eat. But I’m almost caught up.

 

Daily Hat Track: July 30 (Roman Messer & Cari – Serenity)

 

I’m not the biggest fan of breakup songs but Roman Messer had a good vibe anyways and this is recent so I’m sharing it and that’s that. Enjoy if you may.

 

Daily Hat Track: July 31 (Haken – The Architect)

 

And to finally finish up July, we have an incredibly long progressive rock journey through sound from Haken. 15 minutes may be long but the song itself easily makes it worthwhile with it’s variety.

 

As always you can check out all Daily Hat Tracks in the playlist below

 

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/4CIZYAQAzctqYqFG89HIv2?si=vNZPS0uETkyobpBBDEAP_g

 

VNV Nation – Empires (1999 album)

Bandcamp: n/a

Soundcloud: n/a

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/7fSSsXxAJI1v9ClpIXGAGY?si=kUpWgZGYT8y4VJRdsQjjuQ

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL9BCB4A0D16DA2D4E

 

Introduction: I’ve spent a significant amount of time as of late introducing new artists as of late, from the ever edgy Celldweller, to the oppositely optimistic Scatman John to the simpler cinematics of Varien. I mean, yes there was a Mind.in.a.box review thrown in there as well, but I review Mind.in.a.box and THYX so often that it’s hardly worth noting my return. However, when it comes to VNV Nation, this is only my second review, the first of which was overly reliant on using samples from old war movies and seemingly glorifying war, which I have some mixed feelings on. This album takes the whole idea of VNV Nation and twists it into an entirely different direction. Still focused on Victory Not Vengence, this album takes an internal looks on the struggles of trying to find order in such a chaotic world, which is definitely an idea I like exploring.

 

So I guess I’ll go ahead and explore it.

 

 

 

VNV Nation – Firstlight (5.25): Firstlight is a fairly average introduction song with very little to talk about. There’s really only a couple things to this song. First off, we have the trippy glitched out synth that sounds like a drum that’s been pitched up way too high for its own good. And secondly, we have a couple of layers of strengths providing some nice smooth ambience to this song, setting the mood for the rest of the album. And while the strings are always welcome (even if they’re a bit too simplistic), I’m not all that thrilled about those pitched up drums. They just don’t seem all that special or interesting to listen to. Not horrible. But not any good either.

 

Perhaps if this song took some time to develop more and added in some lyrics, I’d enjoy it a lot more.

 

Yeah, that’d be neat.

 

VNV Nation – Kingdom (6.75): Within the first few seconds, this song sounds quite similar to a lot of the war songs from the first album I reviewed of VNV Nation. A slight bit of strings followed by some samples of metal clashing as if some gate is being unlocked. But that’s all there is sampled. No communications or interrogations depicting the glorious horror that is war. Just a simple clashing accompanying some strings. And outside of a harsh snare here and there, this intro has no effect on the rest of the song, which is a bit more vocal than previous VNV Nation. Good. As VNV Nation progresses, the music only becomes more and more vocal and I enjoy it more and more each time as the message continually begins to match the mantra that Victory not Vengeance.

 

However, we’re not there quite yet, this simply synthed song still has a bit of an extra edge to it. Much of the song is spent depicting a world of chaos in which all values and ideals worth standing for are constantly thrown down and cast to the side, resigning those who live in this world to nihilism and hopeless ness. Repeatedly the song questions whether anyone can be saved from this chaos

 

But those are the verses. The chorus is a bit more hopeful, concentrating more on the dream of making a heaven within this world. A place where we can escape the chaos and find peace together. Think of this album as a compromise between the last few albums I’ve reviewed. It’s got a bit of the pessimism and edge that spread throughout Celldweller’s album. It does hint a little bit at a dream of a utopia which served as a main them in Scatman’s debut album. And like my recent chapter of Mind.in.a.box, there is hope of changing from the one negative view of the world to the more positive world from Scatman’s dreams

 

Overall, this compromise results in a bit of a more realistic worldview, one that still focuses more on victory as we must strive to take this kingdom for ourselves. We can rise above the chaos even when all seems impossible. Even when all seems lost…

 

VNV Nation – Rubicon (7): Now, most of the songs on this album don’t exactly stand out musically, so I’ll probably be spending a bit more time on the lyrical analysis rather than the music for most of the songs, but I do want to point out this song’s music for a brief second. This song’s melodies have such a good upbeat vibe that stands out a bit more than most of the other songs on the album. Yes, it still follows a lot of the VNV Nation tropes for the majority of the song: very little development, plenty of heavy emphasis on the drums, especially in some portions, but I feel the melody is a significant enough of a part of my enjoyment of this song that I felt it was worth mentioning.

 

However, the true focus for this and a good two thirds of the other songs on this album is the lyrical content. Rubicon, much like the famous Revolutionary War river of American History, is about crossing a point in one’s life that cannot be uncrossed, leaving behind a past that cannot be returned to, awakening to a world that cannot be unseen. It’s a half-song about despair, once again taking on the darker flipside of VNV Nation’s namesake, vengeance. There’s a resignation to the helpless wandering as the darkness seems quite impossible to escape, tearing the singer apart as he longs for an end to the suffering that has taken over his life. This song, does have a small bit of hope, begging for a light to be shown so that he can escape the darkness, but for now, he resigns to the fact that his end is approaching.

 

VNV Nation – Saviour (6): Well… Saviour doesn’t really have the twinges of pessimism that was hinted in the last couple of songs. It doesn’t have the optimism either. It’s an instrumental track again. However, I feel like, this one is significantly better than the intro. No overly harsh drums, no pitched-up drums, just a standard solid 4 on 4 drumbeat. Well, there’s some other instruments in there too, a simple melody, some occasional strings and an arpeggiated bassline that really serves as the main star of the show in my book, but unfortunately, there isn’t all that much variety to enjoy with these instruments. The song definitely has some good potential, but I never feel lit truly embraces it.

 

VNV Nation – Fragments (6.25): On the surface level, Fragments is the harshest song on the album. The drumbeat and the swelling bassline together to drown out all that is calm in this track, creating a loud blaring and violent drive synonymous with many of the war inspired songs from the last album. The snare is especially prominent and distorted scratching away at anything smooth that this song has to offer. It’s a bit of a shame as I quite enjoy some of the less harsh elements of this track. The arps have a decent range to them, sometimes a bit heavier than the average arp, but it’s still silky smooth in comparison to the lesser drumbeat and bassline. However, because of the harshness from the overwhelming bassline and snare, I end up being a bit disappointed by the music this song has to offer. There’s a small light influence from a choir that appears sparsely in the song, but it’s too minimal to truly change my opinion.

 

Yet, while the music is incredibly harsh, the message displayed by the song is surprisingly uplifting. Despite its rough exterior, this song houses a theme of a bright future. All great things that we fight for in the present will echo on forever into the future. And so, the great ideals of humanity will never truly die, even if they seem to be choked out by various societal flaws.

 

I’m just not sure why this song has to be so forceful about it.

 

VNV Nation – Distant (Rubicon II) (8.75): And now, for something much calmer and much more soothing in tone. Distant, the sequel to Rubicon (subtly hinted at with Rubicon II in parentheses), is almost entirely made of strings, with only Ronan’s voice breaking through. Like its predecessor, Distant focuses on life after the point of no return. The despair from the first of these two songs has bled over to its sequel. But this time, the slow somber strings bring in a strange sense of peace to the despair. Where the first Rubicon focused a heavy lot on struggling to find a way back to the past, Distant takes a breath and searches internally to the deepest depths of one who’s crossed the Rubicon. The broken soul that remains adrift in the vast sea of reality.

 

When you cross the Rubicon, you may not cross back. Distant focuses on that realization as the singer watches all that he has known fade away. And as he lets this new distant fate settle in, darker emotions arise from within. Vengeance is one of them. A deep sense of loneliness and rage take hold as one submits to the chaos. They become a near inescapable prison that tricks you into thinking that any sign of redemption or hope must be an illusion. It is a tragically toxic state of mind to find one’s self in. One that I find myself in from time to time, much as I try to deny it.

 

While I do typically enjoy VNV Nation for the more inspiring type of song. This one hits quite close to home, well illustrating the deepest darkest moments of loneliness, all with a beautiful somber tone.

 

VNV nation – Standing (8): Standing serves to be the most memorable song on this album, though that may be because, thanks to another album I’ll review later, there are two other versions of this song. Due to this, I’ve heard this set of lyrics thrice as many as most other VNV Nation songs while shuffling my all too large music library (Though Solitary from the last VNV Nation album I reviewed still has it beat with four different versions). The original Standing serves as an intermediate between the utterly calming Still mix and the harsher Motion mix that’s more akin to what you’d find off of Praise the Fallen. It has both a solid drive with more energy than Still, but also retains the sweeping chords that bring out the true beauty of the song.

 

But for now, it doesn’t matter what other versions of this song exist. All that matters is this version, which serves as one of my favorite songs off of Empires.

 

Like the two Rubicon songs in this album, Standing is about the awakening of a soul and gaining a brand-new perspective of the world. However, unlike the Rubicons, Standing’s stance on this life-changing moment is infinitely more positive. Rubicon and Distant, repeatedly mourned over the inability to retread their steps back towards the peace once known. Standing, however, cuts off the past and looks to the future. Instead of drowning in the sea of chaos, we now stand still in the waters, allowing a fuller view of the world around us.

 

This moment of clarity, when we take a breath and try and observe the world without drowning in it, is the focus of the song. The past doesn’t matter anymore, and for a brief while, the future is also irrelevant. You and the universe as it is this very moment are all that matters. It’s a vast world filled with unfamiliarity and confusion. It’s a world where, at times, victory seems implausible, though that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth fighting for. And as complicated and overwhelming as the world may become, it’s important to keep in mind what truly matters.

 

All that matters right now is that moment of peace.

 

VNV nation – Legion (8): But I can’t promise that peace will last. In fact, there’s an almost certainty that this moment of peace and clarity that we try to hold onto so dearly will slip from our fingers time and time again.

 

Legion, like Standing, has three different versions and so it has also appeared in the general VNV Nation shuffle more often than other songs (though Standing and its alternate versions did stand out a bit more to me by simply being a better song). This original version, once again, takes a medium route between the ever so calming Anachron version and the slightly more intense Janus Version. Though this time around, it’s leaning a bit more towards upbeat Janus. It’s just a slight bit harsher with its drumbeat and extra focus on the basslines, though it doesn’t come anywhere near the harsher songs seen in the first half of the album. The background choir is a nice touch that keeps the song well grounded in the calmer half of the album.

 

Lyrically, Legion sounds to be a continuation of Standing, though this one is less about breaking free from the turmoil of the far side of the Rubicon and more about the fear of returning to the chaos. After experiencing the clarity of Standing and desperately trying to hold onto that feeling, it only becomes more painful when the peace begins to fade away. And so, Legion is about desperately trying to cling onto that feeling. It’s about the fear of the unknown as you close your eyes and drift away from that point of clarity.

 

VNV Nation – Darkangel (6.5): There’s a calm sense of darkness to Darkangel (Darkangel is dark, who could have guessed?). It does have a slightly tumultuous drive compared to the rest of the latter half of Empires, which makes it stick out a bit sorely in comparison to the resto the stellar half of this album. Admittedly the darker drive in the song doesn’t match the first half of the album either but there still is a slightly more violent feeling here. Perhaps it has to do with the lyrical content. Thematically, there is some continuation of the fall alluded to in Legion, but this song has very little in common with Arclight, the next song on the album, making it a confusing penultimate song. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

 

What are these lyrics that take the turmoil of Legion and delve deeper into the struggle between peace and chaos? Well it’s apparent from the beginning, that peace is gone. There is no more peace in this moment and trying to hold onto it any longer will only result in suffering. Now, for the most part, this does work as a good message. True peace, in my experience, is never permanent. Sometimes, you have to move forward into the chaotic unknown in order to reach towards that peaceful future.

 

But this song doesn’t quite depict the best way to go about it. There’s no positive active drive to replace the sorrow. It’s just passive drifting through life, once again resigning to the chaos. There’s such a focus on scorn and a desire for war really implies that this song is leaning to a more vengeful solution. And the never-ending darkened skies envisioned in the future is a bit too nihilistic for my current tastes. There’s simply no hope to be found in this song.

 

Then again, perhaps this song is merely setting up a redemptive finale.

 

VNV Nation – Arclight (8.25): Arclight concludes this album with a callback to the beginning, the instrumental introduction that I didn’t quite care for very much with those pitch-crazy drums. And while instrumentally, the first half of this song is exactly the same. Thankfully, it does pick up after that midway point with a new solid drumbeat (with no unpleasant pitch shifts) and an arp.

 

And there are also lyrics.

 

This album has been a mixture of darkness and light, with the last song threatening to return to the deep depths of chaos and uncertainty. Arclight however brings us back to a hopeful state of mind. While certainty is almost certainly destined to elude us throughout our time on this Earth, there is still peace in the future if we strive for it. Leave behind all that chains you down in hopeless sorrow and embrace the future. And while you can’t be certain of everything in this world, you should at least be certain of yourself.

 

Peace is out there. And with it, contentment.

 

Conclusion: Empires is a massive improvement over the last VNV Nation album. It’s first half is a bit pessimistic, but the rest of the album more than makes up for it by once again finding peace in the chaos for a brief moment and looking towards the future, dedicating one’s life to rediscovering that peace. The instrumental songs do flop slightly and I could really do without Saviours especially, though I find that Firstlight is somewhat necessary to allow Arclight to have its full impact (even though I consider Firstlight to be the lesser of the two instrumentals).

 

Final Score: (7/10)

Varien – Pick Your Poison Vol 1 (2013 album)

Album Links

 

Bandcamp: https://subterrarecords.bandcamp.com/album/pick-your-poison-vol-01

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/fixt/sets/varien-pick-your-poison-vol-1

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/4zGzLF81ic2CJiOlagTSVe?si=PnhZghijSquetTbLGXeM1A

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLxPSxNNXfbdCo7vJ6lOTF7WSNtZGtMVhS

 

Introduction: Today, I’m introducing yet another artist to you all, giving my reviewing repertoire a little bit more variety: Varien, a man that I’d discovered quite early on compared to many of the other artists, I’ve reviewed other than perhaps Andy Hunter (who as I’ve said before is the first when it comes to electronic. I’d discovered Varien via Monstercat, a label that a stranger that I’ve completely forgotten had suggested to me, so thanks random person who I’ll never know. I don’t listen to Monstercat as much these days, but you’ve contributed to me expanding my taste a little bit more, eventually leading me to where I am today.

 

Now, while I know Varien for his work on Monstercat and the song’s he’s left since leaving the label, I still want to take a step back and look at some of the first albums he’d released under the Varien alias (he’d had previous aliases that I don’t listen to as much but I probably won’t be looking at those ones as much). Part of what attracts me to Varien so much is his combination of electronic, my favorite genre, with other styles, including energetic orchestral pieces, acoustic relaxation and today’s focus: cinematic rock.

 

So, let’s dive into the shortest album I’ve reviewed so far and inspect the various choices of poison Varien has presented.

 

 

Varien – Death Call (6.25): There is a cry in the night. An endless high-pitched tone, that never ceases. This is Death’s Call. Accompanied by a cinematic drumbeat  during the calm builds of suspense, this call screams through the night eventually leading to harsher sections filled with dubstep basslines, jumping back and forth between full- tempo and half-tempo, keeping any listener on their toes as it beckons to the last point in the drop where the highest tone and the harsh growling basslines synchronize and become one. Twice it calls. Twice I ignore.

 

I don’t plan on answering this call and I would highly recommend ignoring it for as long as you can, but seeing as this album is all about picking a poison it seems that this call is the force that’s about to present the poisons this album presents. Or perhaps it is a form of poison to choose… Let’s look at the rest.

 

Varien – Shadow People (7): Do you hear the melody in the darkness. Eight notes. Two similar sets of four rising and falling softly, behind the deep guttural growls in the night. This is a warning of what approaches. The Shadow People. The warning grows more intense as time goes on. A bassline and wavering strings raise the intensity of the call as the Shadow People draw closer and closer…

 

And then it’s all shrouded in darkness. Everything goes near silent. Only a drowned-out bassline remains struggling to be set free from the clutches of those that lurk in the dark. And if you listen closely… you can hear a heartbeat. But it’s temp and pattern… it isn’t quite human as the title, Shadow People Suggests.

 

The ominous warning breaks free. Switching back and forth between the echoing drumbeats and the bassline now screaming with intensity, louder than ever in a rushed attempt at foreboding suspense. And right when it reaches its climax, you hear five stabs…

 

Then nothing.

 

You have one short minute to escape… before they catch you.

 

Varien – Scrap Metal (5.25): Scrap Metal doesn’t just appear out of nowhere. It comes from a source. A broken-down car or some other defunct piece of machinery. As long as it’s made of metal and no longer of use, then it can be scrap metal. But it always has a history.

 

So, what happened in this metal’s history to make it sound so violent?

 

True, all of the poison in this album is rather aggressive, but an inanimate hunk of metal shouldn’t really be that intense what with the overwhelming dubstep vibe throughout the song. It’s all filled with growls and screams which frankly seem to be a bit of overkill in my book as I’d rather here some of the more cinematic suspenseful portions and while there’s a little bit in this song at the midway point, it’s not quite up to my expectations.

 

And then a possibility lurking in the back of your head begins to awaken.

 

Scrap metal must come from somewhere. A broken-down car or some other form of defunct machinery. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the machinery met its end due to overuse. There’s something out there. Something violent and destructive towards our industrial creations.

 

And all it leaves behinds are scraps.

 

Varien – Mother Superior (7): I would agree it’s always a good idea to respect one’s mother. And it seems that Mother Superior is quite demanding of respect. As soon as she appears on the scene, there’s a familiar vibe that you may be getting used to by now, overwhelming suspense created by simple creepy melodies and echoing electronic stabs with some heavy hitting cinematic drums. A clock ticks in the background counting down to the oncoming wrath. And a mother’s wrath is something to be feared.

 

Mother Superior’s theme hits a lot of the same notes as the Shadow People. That creepy melody and bass heavy suspense leading working together with intense drums into a dubstep drop? Exactly the sense of foreboding that the Shadow People presented. Oh but the wrath here is so much stronger, the growls hit harder and the theme lasts twice as long with a second heavy attack near the end with a slight syncopation to upset the balance before once again hitting the ending of the song with some rapidfire stabs before strangling what’s left of the warnings. It’s possible that Mother Superior is the leader of them, I don’t know how this poisonous world I’m imagining from Varien’s music works down to the letter. Anything’s possible.

 

Regardless, it’s a good idea to respect your mother, but in the case of this song’s poison, it might be a matter of life or death.

 

Varien – Welcome to Hell (7.25): Oh, well what a warm welcome to Hell itself. I guess this is a fair location to visit with all the poison that’s been presented in this album. Oh, but Hell is not a place for relaxation. I have no idea why you’d ever expect that looking at any of the religious sources describing the torturous side of the afterlife. Also, the theme of this album does seem to be quite the gritty violent vibe.

 

Oh, it’s a quiet welcome at first. Just a slight rumble with ever approaching growls echoing in the distance, but when the drums begin and the growls become more prominent, the song takes a slightly more upbeat distorted vibe providing a slight distorted note on every beat. And of course, as it continues on, there’s a climax midway through the song where the basslines reach their full potential with a violent depiction of the horrors that await. I even believe I hear some screams in there at some points, though perhaps the late night is making me delusional.

 

The song ends just as it began, with the faint growls echoing in the distance as they fade away…

 

But they’ll be back.

 

Hell is eternal.

 

Varien – Technical Difficulties (8): Anyways, after abandoning the absolute most horrifying place in all of existence, it’s time to move on to perhaps the best theme in the entire album. Oh, I’m not even going to try and hide behind some lore this time. I’m mostly just trying to use that to give a little bit of variety and atmosphere to the review, but this song? This one needs some special attention to its music.

 

Technical Difficulties has absolutely every strength from any of the other songs on this album and even more. Oh, the beginning has those intense wavering strings that began in Shadow People and of course that leads to the intense bass heavy cinematic drumbeat combo that is present in pretty much every build-up in this album. But after that. Every single moment of this song is absolutely unique.

 

There’s a melody coming from a distant guitar playing off in the middle of all the calm ambience, providing a different strangely soothing flavor foreign to the rest of the album. And the strings do a great job of building up a bit of suspense towards the climax of this song. But unlike the other final drops. This song instead opts to just play a bassline in the background while still focusing on the guitar melodies and strings for the main forefront. It’s actually a beautiful refreshing change of pace with some good drumbeats mixed in there. Making it one of the best songs on the album.

 

Varien – The Sickness (6.5): It’s no surprise that since we’re about two thirds through this album of poison that the sickness is starting to creep in. Poison isn’t the healthiest substance. Oh, and the suspense as this sickness seeps into the body is absolutely overwhelming. Just listen to those quiet voices of longing underlying the bassline and the drums at the beginning there, the moans of those dying from a disease that they’ve inflicted upon themselves. A slightly discomforting bassline rumbles growing ever closer as the drums, as always, build the short song to its climax as the sickness truly begins to take hold. Drums of war. An unbeatable war.

 

The distorted sickness takes a form of a sick bassline that dominates the song by playing long dark notes that display the cinematic dubstep vibe that infects this entire album. The note sometimes holds strong, and yet other times, it begins to waver, showing perhaps a weakness. Perhaps it can be cured. Or perhaps it’s merely strangling the body from the inside out before leaving the song ending the song climatically.

 

Does the end represent death? Perhaps if it were the last song on the album, but there is more to come.

 

Varien – Future Funk (7.75): This is the one of the only songs that could compete Technical Difficulties for the top spot on this album (it loses in the end, but it still stands out among the rest). And so, made up lore is once again not required to make the review of this particular song stand out among the rest. Oh, I could try to make up some story about some sort of funky time travel, but I can’t seem to make the edginess fit with that anyway. But what I can talk about is the variety that this track holds.

 

The first thing I want to highlight is the drum variety this song has over the rest of the songs. Most of the other songs have just the cinematic stabs in the build-ups and a steadier drumbeat, usually at a dubstep tempo, when it comes to the drop. However, this song explores a bit further than that simple pattern. At first, it starts following the two, section trend that the majority of the album uses. Cinematic drums with an unsteady tempo at first, followed by a half-time section at the drop (though interestingly this drumbeat is actually combined with the irregular cinematic drumbeat instead of outright abandoning in it). The second half is where the true variety comes in though. It starts out with the cinematic drums again at first, but then it introduces a new syncopated drumbeat (And if anyone knows me, they know I love syncopation). The syncopation adds a new groove that’s a bit more unique compared to the rest of the album, and it’s allowed to breathe for a second, without the cinematic drums getting in the way (though said drums do come in again a bit later). Long story short, the drumbeat is constantly changing and developing over the course of the entire album.

 

But the despite taking an entire paragraph, the drumbeats aren’t all that’s special about this song. Obviously a song called Future Funk has to have a bit of a groove to it. And that groove is created by the melodies and basslines that are scattered throughout this track. The most noticeable of these is the synth smoothly transforming between several different notes, creating a groove that surprisingly fits quite well with the more cinematic style this album presents. And under that melody, there’s plenty more, an atmospheric vocal sample that serves as the backbone of the track and a wavering simpler synth adding a secondary underlying melody to compliment the first And in the second half, a new bassline is introduced with a low growling arp accentuating that groovy funk to the maximum.

 

I haven’t quite decided whether or not I prefer this over Technical Difficulties, but both are incredibly solid additions to this album that easily stand out above the rest.

 

Varien – Schizophrenia (5.5): The bass heavy stabs at the beginning, overwhelming the forefront of the song during its stay. And yet, everything else sounds distant, a whisper of an arp, a slight build of chaotic strings in the background, and thunderous drums that leave a wavering cry in their dust. Everything in this song is so distant. Except for the bass. The bass. It’s absence in the middle third is welcome, but the song spends much of the time slamming the bassline over the rest of the track, making every other element of this song’s identity seem distant, almost non-existent.

 

What is left of the song when the harsh bass overwhelms every other piece of its identity?

 

What is left of you when harsh thoughts overwhelm every other piece of your identity?

 

Varien – Meteorite (7.75): As the album comes to a close, all that remains is Meteorite: the ultimate mysterious element of the world I’ve attempted to imagine for this album. Perhaps not quite as horrifying as the Shadow People and their Mother Superior. Perhaps not as existentially terrible as Death’s Call that welcomes you to hell. Perhaps not as dangerous as a creature that consumes metal, or a disease that consumes the mind. But Meteorite remains to be the most mysterious of the bunch. Sure, I couldn’t really think of much of an imaginative recreation of Technical Difficulties or Future Funk, but this is different.

 

Looking at the surface, yeah, a meteorite crashed. It happens sometimes. But like I said, there’s an overwhelming aura of mystery. Just listen to that piano melody at the beginning. it starts out soft, distant, combined with what sounds to be a slightly distorted guitar that muffles the simple melody. But as the melody approaches closer and closer to the core of this song, the meteorite that had shattered the surface of this world, the piano becomes stronger, nearly overwhelming the bass as the drums walk closer and closer to the otherworldly wreckage.

 

And then the song explodes into energy, the bassline once again taking the forefront, but unlike in Schizophrenia, the bassline doesn’t completely overtake the song. In fact, the piano is really still thee star of the song, increasing the mystery as it keeps up well with the more intense elements, as we get closer and closer to what appears to be a meteorite. But the guitar and bassline suggest that this isn’t just a hollow husk of extraterrestrial rock. There is something more here. You can hear it, even as the song once again fades into its previous calm demeanor. A subtle bassline stuttering along with the ambience echoing from the drums.

 

And then, for this album’s finale, the final climax of the song depicts an increase in intensity unlike any other on this album. The melody has been cut short, unable to keep up with the ever-accelerating tempo, a combination of the echoing drums from earlier and the rolling bassline that had previously appeared at the midpoint climax. But there’s no more time for the drums to echo. No more time for the bassline to catch a breath as it rises.

 

There’s no more time.

 

Conclusion: Pick Your Poison Vol 1 is a bit on the shorter side of the albums, seeing as ach of the song is no longer than a movie trailer (for good reason). Ten songs, seventeen minutes. If you read this review at a slow enough pace, you could actually finish listening to the album before reaching the end of this review. It’s not cream of the crop for Varien. It’s in fact the first album I’ve reviewed so far where none of the songs have reached an 8 or higher. Now, that doesn’t make it a bad album. None of the songs are bad per se. It’s a shorter experience so it doesn’t need to be exceptionally solid. It’s just a quick exploration into the harsher more cinematic side of Varien. There are a few small duds, but none of them are atrocious enough or long enough to ruin the experience of the album.

 

 

Final Score: (6.75/10)

Mind.in.a.box – Revelations (2012 album)

Album links

Bandcamp: n/a

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/mindinabox/sets/revelations-12

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/0MKOj0fFRuue84xqbwVRcd?si=AWIBEhVURhSEG4o9hjU-iA

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLjIuADMrDKIYAWxu4bxbkhW37ohF1aqvv

 

 

I̸̧̪̱̻̬̟̜̖̓́̍̃ṋ̵̨̬͓͔͚̣̞͖̘̒̇̓̓̈́̊̒̿̍̄̈̕͝͝ͅt̶͓̖̠̮̜̙̓r̵̨̞̹͕̝͎̜͓̥̩̤͔̈̑̑͒̔̀͐̈͊̈́̽̎ō̷̝͕̗͇̦̪̰̩̩͎̖̱̳̒͆͘d̵̢̑͌̋͋̏̐̔͗̽̽͒̑͒͜͠͝ụ̴͔͎̺̜̗͍̖͔̹̟̞̥͙̤̆̇̾̃̆̄̐̔͆̂͘͝͝ĉ̴̡̛̳̟̦͈̮͇͉̭̫͉̦͈̀̃̿͌͋͒̑̋̂̉͘̚̚t̵̢̧̛̯̟͕͙̖̪̻̩̗́̾͗̐̈͑̋͑͋͆̓̾̋̂ͅi̵̛̻͎̤̣̝̣̇̋̄͊̑͑̌͌͜͝͠ó̵̧̟͒͆̈̊̋̀̓̽͘͠͝ň̵̞̣̘̩̣͔̗̣̝̪͉̲̠̰͂̏̉͊̏̆͐͐̊̋̆͐͠: ……………………………………………………………………….

 

 

 

Last time on Mind.in.a.box: Our story begins with an agent. We know him as Black. Employed by White, Black searches for the key to a reality beyond the physical world known as the Dreamweb: a virtual world that people known as the Sleepwalkers have escaped to, putting them out of White’s grasp. Black is a Stalker, a man put under White’s control to tail members of the Sleepwalkers in hopes of finding out how to access the Dreamweb. In particular he targets a man (now known as the Friend) and a woman (now known as Night).

 

But something goes wrong. As Black trails Night to a club, the music there overwhelms him, causing him to Black out and lose track of Night, but not before seeing a glimpse of the Dreamweb. His mind is broken by the experience, but through this he begins to discover that perhaps his mind wasn’t sound to begin with. Missing memories, nightmares of someone controlling him, feeling utterly lost in the world around him. In exposing him to the Dreamweb, the Sleepwalkers have freed Black’s mind from White’s control. He is no longer a Stalker. He has redefined his identity into something new. He has made a decision to depart from The Agency and follow the Sleepwalkers. But after such a life changing event, Black must first contemplate the events that have unfolded over the past several months. Several revelations may occur.

 

Now that his eyes have been opened, nothing will ever be the same.

 

Mind.in.a.box – Remember (8.5): Remember is quite the interesting introductory song for this album. The last two albums had explicit recaps of the events so far, but this one follows a slightly different method, focusing solely on Black’s current emotional state and his newly changed view on White and the Agency. Throughout its duration, this song develops from quiet ambience filled with whispers from the past to simple melodic verses depicting Black looking back to the conflict that has now arisen between him and White. His entire worldview has been shattered and he has found himself lost without direction.

 

From there, the song reaches its more energetic chorus, adding in some guitar riffs and much more violent introspection, focusing on Black’s regrets of his past actions. He never knew true reality until the moment the Sleepwalkers had freed him. He never knew the truth about his employer until he discovered the truth of the Agency and the Stalkers. And now that the truth has been revealed to him, he finds himself trapped in a state of turmoil as it all falls apart.

 

Outside of the obvious lyrics depicting Black’s current struggles, I found something incredibly interesting in the calmest sections of the song. There are some faint whispers that slipped past my ears a first, and even now they are so faint that it’s rather tricky to figure out exactly what’s being said. Though I believe I have noticed that the first line whispered, “Do you see the confusion,” comes from Certainty back on Dreamweb, even though the rest of the lines don’t quite match. So, if I were to guess, the rest of the whispers come from other pivotal songs in the past three albums. I don’t really have the time or energy right now to figure out what the rest are, but perhaps I’ll return later to decipher exactly what pieces of the story the Black is remembering at this moment.

 

But the past is behind him. The important decisions reside in the future.

 

Mind.in.a.box – Cause and Effect (7.25): So, we move onto Cause and Effect, which has a slight bit of a grittier vibe in comparison to our introduction. The bassline is probably the main reason for this as it takes a prominent role throughout much of the song. In fact, until 4-minutes in, it feels like the rest of the song is incredibly subdued in the background. With just the groovy bassline periodically coming in and out with a slightly syncopated drumbeat, though it’s more of an extra beat between the third and fourth rather than a delayed third beat, and the bassline seems to bounce back and forth between the groovy feeling and a slightly harsher tune intermittent throughout the track. And that’s pretty much the entirety of the song up until the 4-minute mark.

 

Okay, I’ve mentioned the 4-minute mark quite enough times. There is a game changer that occurs right here and it’s time to mention it. While the arps and the melodies do develop a small bit before this moment, it’s only here that they truly take the spotlight as they set the bassline into the background for once and let the arps take the spotlight along with some extra distorted vocals. Not quite the same as the gritty vocals that take up the majority of this track, but instead a more robotic voice that sings long notes. Thankfully, despite their distortion, I was able to parse these lyrics unlike all of the whispers in the last song. Speaking of lyrics…

 

This song further expands on Black’s regrets of the past. He was blind to reality, but instead had unquestioningly followed White. Now that the Sleepwalkers have freed him, Black sees the world for what it truly is. And he sees that White’s lies (not to be confused with white lies), have led him down a path that destroyed his identity in favor of trying to break into the Dreamweb, which upon retrospection, might not be the best thing for White to have access to. And so, now that his mind is free, he expresses his anger at the one who’d held him unwittingly in a mental prison for so long. For now, he blames White for his actions. But is his role in the Agency really that simple?

 

Mind.in.a.box – Transition (7.5): Now that we’ve reached the third song, it’s time to make up for lost time with the Mind.in.a.box arp, because it is much more prominent in this song than it was in Cause and Effect, taking the main stage for the majority of the song. In fact, other than the drums and vocals, the arps dominate this song so much that there is so little else to talk about, which gives me more time to go into the much more interesting lore.

 

In this song, Black returns to the club that he’d visited on that fateful day when he’d lost is trail on Night and first glimpsed into the Dreamweb (Check out Dead End from Dreamweb for the story on that). However, things have changed since he’d last visited the Dreamweb.

 

The club is empty. It had been teaming with the chaos of people and dancing when he’d first arrived at the club, but now the entire club has been abandoned. No music. No people. No sign of the Sleepwalkers. No answers to the questions that he’d hope to answer by finding the club once again. There is nothing left here.

 

Until he revisits the alley outside of the club. Here, he finally here’s the music.

 

It’s in his mind.

 

The time for action is at hand.

 

Mind.in.a.box – Doubt (9): Alright enough with the lore, let’s dive right back into Black’s mind and look further into the regrets that are arising as he gains freedom from White’s control. It is now that he feels doubt.

 

But first, before I get distracted by the inner turmoil Black is going through, can I just comment on the brilliant arpwork this song in particular has? I know. I’m repetitive. Mind.in.a.box is always fantastic when it comes to the arps. But this one does rise above the bar with several different layers to each and every arp, And it isn’t just the arps that are outstanding, there are some points where the arps go absent and what’s left is a simple rising chord progression and a good peaceful melody that highlights my favorite part of the song (though it’s actually my favorite part for lyrical reasons).

 

Doubt is a song of rising uncertainty. While under White’s control, he may have had some questions about his memories and where he precisely belonged, but none of these questions truly took form until the Sleepwalkers freed him. And now that he’s begun to redefine himself, he questions his past actions and whether they were truly the best ones he could have taken. He now dwells in the past when he should be living in the present, looking to the future. He dwells on what cannot be changed and throughout most of the song, falls into a deep depression, adapting a nihilistic view on his life, ruined by his past.

 

But thankfully this song takes a turn for the better. Despite being crushed by his past actions, Black eventually musters up the strength to live with it all the same. Yes, his past my be dotted with several failures, but that doesn’t mean he has to define his life by those failures. What matters is the present. What matters is that he redefined his life into something new, independent of White’s control. His doubt might not leave him completely, but he can thrive despite it.

 

Mind.in.a.box – Control (8.75): One of the main desires I have in life is to find a way to remain in control of it all. All too often, I find myself struggling to keep my head above the water. And so, to hear a this soothing relaxing track titled Control really washes over me. There’s a slower more introspective vibe created by the steady drumbeat and the simple bassline and underlying arp that set up the main structure of the song. And thanks to a few melodies, some fitting the calmer vibe and others with a more victorious feeling (the latter present in the chorus and the former being present pretty much everywhere else). This song really does have a solid feeling that matches its name.

 

Sound is deceptive. For this song describes the darkness Black feels after setting his life on autopilot. For so long he’d simply lived assignment to assignment, working under White’s command to fulfill the goals of the Agency, particularly uncovering the Dreamweb. He’d given up control to the whims of others and for a while he’d been content there.

 

But now that he’s freed, he feels lost. Yes, freedom from White’s control is definitely a victory for him and the Sleepwalkers, but now he feels lost in the chaos, tumbling down the void of the unknown, horrified by his past actions and vowing not to repeat them. But where does he belong now that he’s in control. Does he strive to make his own path. Does he blindly follow the Sleepwalkers instead? And how does he deal with White?

 

Chaos isn’t always easy to overcome, but Black has taken steps towards feeling in control. No more autopilot. No more mindless wandering under another’s guidance. Srive to escape the endless whole of darkness, not embrace it.

 

It’s time to take control.

 

Mind.in.a.box – Fragments (8): Alright, it’s time to dive a bit into the lore and maybe get a little bit meta. Musically, this song has just about nothing special to it. Good arp and that’s about all I have to say. Typical Mind.in.a.box stuff. But the lyrics. Oh, Black has many questions of the events of Dead End. Questions are eternal. Will they ever be answered?

 

Well, regardless of whether or not certainty will continue to escape Black’s grasp, he has found a place to look for answers, the club that had changed his life forever. He’d found it in Transition and now that he’s found the music playing in his head, he begins to piece together the events of that pivotal elusive night. The club has fallen apart, remaining in shambles, destroyed by something (or someone) referred to as a screamer, a currently unexplored concept, which raises more questions than it answers. The screamer could be involved in the music that allowed Black to glimpse into the Dreamweb, but that seems unlikely as the music, while initially harsh, doesn’t sound very destructive. More likely that music came from mind.in.a.box, a fictional band that had been playing at the club, likely one of the bands on the list mentioned on Into The Night from the last chapter in the story. And yes, I realize that mind.in.a.box being the name of the band within the story is incredibly meta and provides an entirely different layer of mystery to this story. Perhaps I’ll find time to conquer the ramifications of that another day.

 

But Black’s memory is starting to return. He remembers the music and the Dreaweb, the former seeming to be the key to the latter (a major development that will be important in the next chapter of Mind.in.a.box). He recalls the struggle between the Agency and the Sleepwalkers, and he recalls that he’d been rescued by two of those Sleepwalkers, Night and the Friend. But he knows so little about either group, despite both being intertwined with his life.

 

All that matters now is to fight against the Agency that had imprisoned him for so long and finally discover the true reality. To recall the memories that remain elusive and hidden.

 

But that’s a story for another day.

 

Mind.in.a.box – Unknown (7): Unknown, interestingly has a more controlled feeling than control. Simple smooth bassline that follows a more easily identified chord progression as well as a very subtle arp that follows it. There’s not really much of a melody. There’s the occasional one note in the verses that echoes before it leads to the next note, all of it continually following the chord progression. This song doesn’t really do a very good job of breaking bounds. It almost feels like filler. But when it comes to lyrical content and storytelling ramifications, there is no filler.

 

For quite a long time, Black has been pondering his life thus far, hoping to find answers to the Agency that plagued him and the Dreamweb that seems to loom in his future. Enter Night, the woman who’d eluded Black the most as he searched the club for answers. While the club was empty when Black had first investigated, I do believe that this song does depict Night reaching out to Black, beckoning him to join her and The Friend in the Dreamweb. Into the unknown.

 

The Dreamweb is unlike anything Black has seen before. His time in the Agency could not prepare him for such an experience. And neither can Night or the Friend, despite them visiting the Dreamweb themselves. All Black can do is blindly accept Night’s invitation into the Dreamweb. It’s acceptable that he can’t yet comprehend what the Dreamweb truly is. There will always be something unknown in his life.

 

For now, it’s the Dreamweb.

 

The music is the key…

 

Mind.in.a.box – Not Afraid (7): I really tried to find some parallels between this and Fear as I can’t help but feel that the two songs should be intertwined with development, much like the relationship between Machine Run and Redefined (though not quite as much because that matchup was flawlessly executed and can never be beaten). Unfortunately, other than them both relating to the concept of fear, these two songs have very little in common.

 

And yet, even without direct parallels, I do believe that the comparison between the two songs in significant as it does reveal a bit more about Black’s development. The best way to compare these two songs is to look at a specific element of the fear, not just on the personal level of Black, but also on the rest of society. Looking back to Fear, one of the lyrics in the song claims that everyone is afraid, but that’s no excuse. This song also explores the entirety of the people around Black, displaying them as empty shells, stuck in their darkest dream, living their lives in constant fear.

 

But there’s a major difference. Black is no longer afraid. He still lives his life as a dark dream, a never-ending nightmare of unknown reality, but he’s coming to find peace within that chaos. Peace with the unknown. This is likely the best relationship to have with the unknown. You can try to ignore it. You can cower in fear, letting it paralyze you, or you can stand up to the unknown and stride forward.

 

The only way to overcome the unknown is to face it without fear.

 

Mind.in.a.box – Second Reality (9): This song is incredibly deceptive in its tone. The overly distorted vocals emanate a feeling of darkness and confusion, but this song is actually one of the most uplifting songs of clarity in Mind.in.a.box so far. It’s not quite on the same level as Redefined, but I feel like continuing to compare future songs in this discography to Redefined will reflect the newer songs poorly. All will seem flawed next to perfection.

 

But before I get to the lyrics, I want to give a final quick look at the aforementioned grit. The darker tone of this song is created by the already mentioned distorted vocals as well as a slightly grittier bassline. There are a few more instruments in there, such as the occasional arp and piano melody, that prevent the song from becoming overly dark. And there is eventually a change in the vocals near the end, allowing the clearer and cleaner side of Poiss’ vocals to shine. Giving the song a powerful sense of victory. That is, after all, what this song is about: victory, particular over the past.

 

The past two chapters of Black’s story in the Mind.in.a.box discography have been incredibly life-changing. Everything that he’d known about White, the Agency, the Sleepwalkers, Night and The Friend, had been falsities made by the first two on that list. And now that he’s escaped White’s clutches, now that’s he’s found his freedom, the world around him has completely changed. An entirely new reality.

 

A reality in which in which all the barriers that once limited him have been torn down, allowing him to finally be free. A reality in which he can let go of his dark lie-filled past and find the truth in the future. A second reality.

 

Mind.in.a.box – Sanctuary (7.75): And so, Black once again returns to the club, enraptured by the music that had changed his fate. What was once a harsh overbearing melody as seen in Dead End, has now transformed into a song more gracefully orchestrated with calmly layered arps and discernable melodies that reflect the melodies created by the vocals. Oh yes there’s some more intense slightly bassier portions near the end, but that section has more a victorious feeling to it rather than the overwhelming chaos that throbbed in his head so long ago. This song overall is much more inviting now that Black is beginning to understand the Sleepwalkers and their Dreamweb. He now sees that music not as a distraction leading him away from his lead on Night, but now as what it truly is. Mind.in.a.box’s music is the key to the Dreamweb, a sanctuary where Black can truly find a life filled with meaning and hope, a life he can define and control. The music leads the way to Black’s second reality and the identity that was erased by White now begins to take shape once again.

 

Perhaps the memories shall fall into place as well.

 

Conclusion: This album has a slightly different feel to it, focused even more on introspection than usual. While Crossroads explored Black’s choice between the Agency and the Sleepwalkers, Revelations takes a look at the ramifications that choosing the latter has on Black’s life, focusing mostly on his shrouded past. I don’t believe that there’s quite as much worldbuilding in this chapter as it focuses more on Black reflecting on the events that have occurred so far as well as a nostalgic return to the club. That is, outside of the discovery that the music is the key to the Dreamweb. That’s a game changer that will define the next chapter of Black’s journey into the Dreamweb. But that’s a story for another day (I’ll review it sooner than I’d reviewed the last one. It’s been nearly 5 months since I’d reviewed Crossroads).

 

Final Score: (8/10)

 

Scatman John – Scatman’s World (1995 album)

Bandcamp: n/a

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/scatman-john-official/sets/scatmans-world-3

Spotify:  https://open.spotify.com/album/2MRWFajfjxfLAF3wwmdv5j?si=ZxNoY9ZJRt6vrauiGx3fvw

Youtube:  https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_lmeQahtfdGYSLdbE9cbxdec2dwOotyopY

 

Introduction: And now for something completely different!

 

Seriously after dealing with the edgy rock Celldweller for the past three weeks, I need a good palette cleanser. I like the edgy stuff and all, but sometimes it can get a bit overwhelming in all the bad ways. So this week, I’m going to explore an artist that has no edge, but isn’t really overly sappy either (I hate pure sap). So welcome to the first review of the down to earth Scatman John as we explore his most iconic songs.

 

Scatman John – Welcome to Scatland (6): Let’s start this album off with the short piano (and bird?) based intro that welcomes the listener to the wonderous utopian paradise that is Scatland… Scatman’s World? I’m not sure. The terminology keeps on changing, but they sound like the same place from what I’m hearing here.

 

Like I said, Scatland is a utopian paradise, a land in which many of the divisive conflicts of modern day have been eliminated. It’s an ideal dream that should be strived for. Is it possible? Well we’re a couple decades past Scatman John’s career and I am unfortunately not seeing the idea of Scatland taking hold yet. For now, it’s still just a dream.

 

A dream we must strive for.

 

Scatman John – Scatman’s World (6.75): And we’re already at the title track of the album, as well as one of the most iconic tracks. Now, a lot of Scatman’s songs have a bit of a similar style so I shan’t be too long in the instrumental analysis for many of these songs. In fact, even here I shan’t be long. It’s an upbeat pop song with some simple melodies and the rise and fall of some arp in the background (almost sounds like acid, but I could be totally off base). Oh, and there’s some pads too, but outside of a couple of exceptions, pads are never really interesting to talk about. This isn’t one of those exceptions.

 

As for the vocals, Scatman is most known for certain sections of his songs that are a bit less lyrical than others. That’s right, I’m talking about the scatsinging. It’s in the name. All the names. Artist name! Album name! Song name! Well, that last one is pretty obvious because it’s the titular track of the album, but there’s 4 other songs with the word “scat” in the title so it’s not like this is the only occurrence. And while these sections are meaningless, they are quite fun. I am not ashamed to admit that at least half of the enjoyment of singing along with Scatman’s songs is the scatsinging, even if some parts in more complex songs (this one is pretty simple) are impossible for the average human being.

 

But even with his superhuman scatsinging abilities, John here still brings his songs down to earth to convey some authentic human messages. They are in no way existential or edgy like the mindbending thought experiments that is Mind.in.a.box or the tortuous edginess that I’ve reviewed from Ashbury Heights’ and Celldweller’s early works. Instead they convey an idealistic world that displays the innermost human desire for what kind of world they want to live in. Well, at least this is the type of the world I want to live in. And while we’re not living in that world yet, I do think that working towards that world can result in a more enjoyable life. Don’t hold back your turmoil and let it eat you up inside. Express yourself. Allow others to help you through life. And help others if need be. I mean, this probably sounds like some cheesy hippie rambling, and in a way, that is what a lot of Scatman’s lyrics focus on.

 

But if a message of hoping for and striving for peace and happiness in a world that seems to deny it is frowned upon, then that’s not a world I want to live in.

 

I’d rather live in Scatman’s world.

 

Scatman John – Only You (6.25): Again, Scatman adapts the upbeat fun vibe that will be the focus for a good 80% of this album. This one does kick the music up a notch with the song bouncing back and forth with a bouncy piano melody in the majority of the song, while giving it a slight break for the slight groove of a bassline to be spotlit in the verses. I wouldn’t say either part of this song is exceptionally stellar, but it still gives me a slight bit of nostalgia even though I hadn’t actually grown up with this song. My guess is that it reminds me a bit of one of my childhood games (Blinx: the Time Sweeper), but that’s a very loose reminder that probably comes from the arp I hadn’t mentioned yet. Something about it is just the right flavor to activate that memory in my brain.

 

Cryptic nostalgia aside, Only You is one of the few songs in this album that present a slightly different message than the aim for utopia. Instead we’re looking at a love song… I’m quite surprised that this is the first real love song we’ve seen in any of my reviews. Yes, there’s been plenty of toxic love songs in Ashbury Heights’ and Celldweller’s early discographies (as antitheses to Scatman John, I can see myself mentioning these two a lot in this review), but Scatman here is actually giving us a real wholesome love song, filled with a good ammount of adoration without dipping into addictive obsession, and an overall feeling of unconditional love directed towards the soul rather than the outward appearances. And all of it is well appreciated. Is this song for me. No, not really. I’m drawn to the more introspective stuff, but that doesn’t really detract from this song’s quality.

 

Not a huge fan of the slang “mama” though. I understand that there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with it in the song’s time period and its aim is to be endearing, but something about it just rubs me the slightly wrong way.

 

Scatman John – Quiet Desperation (5.5): So, after two upbeat songs that follow Scatman’s iconic style we have Quiet Desperation, a song that prides itself on a slower pace. There’s a soft syncopated drumbeat backing this track up, but it doesn’t reach the hight tempos of the dance songs that much of this album has. This is one to sit back and relax to. A little bit of simple piano here and there. A touch of trumpet for some melodic flavor. And of course, a nice bit of scatsinging that’s intrinsic to any Scamtan John song. Some might have more scatsinging than others, but they all have at least something in the language of “Scattish.”

 

This song’s focus forgoes singing of the fun of scatting one’s way to happiness and instead follows the life of a homeless person that John sees on the side of the road. Not the most uplifting theme. The song’s title refers to the plight of the homeless as he lives his life on the street, just getting by day to day.

 

The message of this song is a bit odd to say the least. Much of the song is spent painting the plight of the homeless. Desperately grasping at the little money that passersby provide. Longing for a place to call home but instead feeling empty inside. Trying to convince one’s self that this nightmare of desperation is only a temporary passing and that it isn’t nearly as bad as he thinks it is. It’s not really an uplifting situation.

 

And yet, Scatman seems to find something in this homeless person that reminds him of something that he’d lost. And I really wish I could tell you for certain what he meant by that, but I just don’t know. What has Scatman lost? Has he lost his focus on what really matters in life beyond the material he has? This one doesn’t quite feel right. The homeless person does desire a home and it’s perfectly reasonable to want at least a simple livable piece of shelter. Maybe it’s more about their similarities of feeling lost and empty, how they’ve both lost something to get them to their similar states of emptiness. But I feel like there needs to be more details for that one to work…

 

Overall, the song sounds pretty good, but the lyrics end up falling flat due to inconsistency… unless I’m missing something. If I figure out what this song is missing, I might come back and raise the score, but for now… eh

 

Scatman John – Scatman (ski-ba-bop-ba-dop-bop) (8.25): And now, complete with some emotional whiplash from the last song, we have the most iconic Scatman song of all… Scatman! If you know Scatman at all, then you know this one. I’m not sure if I can say that about very many artists and their highlight song. But Scatman John’s Scatman (ski-ba-bop-ba-dop-bop) pretty much defines his career. Yes, Scatman’s World is quite popular too, but most of his other songs seem to fall to the wayside. But there are definitely reasons this song is so icinoic.

 

First off, the simplicity of the name and its similarity to the artist, Scatman John, makes it clear that this song, from the beginning, was meant to be the iconic song for Scatman. His very name is the title of the song. But then there’s the second part of that title (ski-ba-bop-ba-dop-bop). Absolutely false advertising. Well, the first part of the chorus does seem to follow the subtitle of the song quite similarly, but This simple string of syllables is nothing compared to the plethora and variety of scatsinging that is actually on this song. From the tongue twisting intro to the second half of the scat singing chorus to the absolutely impossible rapid buzzing that the man does in the song’s bridge. I’ve tried to imitate that zah- zah-zeyah portion to no avail. Scatman John is something else entirely. Really, the music is the simplest of dance tracks to be used on the album, but that just allows the scatsinging to take the center stage.

 

And this song didn’t have to have a good message to it, but it really does have a good focus on not defining yourself by your weaknesses, and instead pushing forward to follow your dreams and desires. Perhaps even using one’s weakness to their advantage. In Scatman’s case, he had an issue with stuttering ever since he was a child, and his life was all the more difficult because of it. He was bullied for his stuttering as a child. While he was eventually able to use his passion for learning music as an escape from his stuttering, he first used it as a front to hide his stuttering. Scatman is the song in which he bravely stepped out and use his talents and passion for music to sing this song despite his fears of his stuttering. He may have never been able to get rid of his stuttering, but he didn’t need to get rid of his weakness in order to be successful. Instead, he turned it into a strength.

 

This song is John Larkin’s life set to music and while it’s not my favorite from him, it is well deserving of his most popular song.

 

Scatman John – Sing Now! (7.25): Sing Now! brings us back to the dreams of a better world, Scatman’s World, a utopia worth striving for. But before I dive into the lyrics of international happiness, I do want to highlight the music as it really feels extra 90s this time. I can definitely hear it in that constant bouncy bassline that accompanies the drumbeat. There are a few other 90s dance melodies, but it’s really the bassline that stands out to me.

 

But Scatman’s strength is always his scatsinging and message. The scatsinging is on point as usual as it fills the instrumental portions in between the choruses and the verses with an extra feeling of joy and celebration. A celebration worth singing about. Sing now! dreams of a world where war has ceased, where division has disappeared, a peace and unity have taken their place. Oh, it’s a sappy idea to be certain and considering my usual distaste for sap, I should hate this song, but I just can’t. There’s something so sincere about the way Scamtan John sings this song, that I feel as if the sap can be ignored in favor of an uplifting message about the dream of peace come true, not by waiting for it to happen, but by stepping up and making it happen. We create or own happy ending.

 

The sun will only rise on our lives if we let it.

 

Scatman John – Popstar (6.5): Popstar takes a step back to a calmer vibe. Not quite the same calm as Quiet Desperation, Song of Scatland or Everything Changes. Just calmer in comparison to the songs around it. What makes this stick out a tiny bit from the other calmer tracks is the little funky bounce it has. Not too much to remark about the music of this song except that bassline which really fits the whole tone it sounds like Scatman has been going for in these lyrics.

 

And what do I think of those lyrics? Well I used to hate them. When I’d first listened to this album, I’d quickly decided that this was my least favorite song of the bunch and much of that has to do with the song’s message. Or rather, it has to do with what the song’s message appeared to be. Because up until the last minute and a half of this song, the entire song is just endless bragging about being a hip and cool popstar. And it’s so self-centered and annoying that it just doesn’t fit the theme of the rest of the album in the slightest. Clearly, I wasn’t listening to that last little bit of the final verse, where Scatman says that everything he’s said up until this point in the song is a joke and how the whole status of a popstar doesn’t matter. All that matters is you. And that is a good message but it was lost on me once I started to tune out the bragging the first few times I listened. So, the twist was alright in the end, but I feel like a twist would be more powerful if it took a good song and made it great rather than taking a bad song and making it good. Thankfully Scatman will prove such a twist is possible later, but that’s for another review.

 

Scatman John – Time (Take Your Time) (8): And now this is some good upbeat funky Scatman. The slight funky of Popstar was nice, but this song is able to get just as much groove here with a much better upbeat tempo, immediately rendering Popstar obsolete as far as the music goes. Yes, a clock is supposed to tick 60 times a minute, but the BPM of this song is at least double that, bringing the whole drive to the fastest Scatman has ever done. The melodies aren’t too much to speak of, but the bassline is exceptionally better than Popstar’s and that one was already quite good. Most of the song it resides in the background with all the scatsinging and quick drumbeat giving the song a subtle but quite noticeable drive to it, but there are points like midway through the second verse where the bassline reaches the front for a rapidly paced breakdown. This combined with scatsinging more fast paced than even the more iconic Scatman (ski-ba-bop-ba-dop-bop), makes this easily the most energetic song on the album.

 

And the basslines and scatsinging aren’t the only things running rapidfire in this song. The lyrical sections of the song are also jampacked with words so quickly expressed that makes deciphering this song quite impossible. Clearly he’s repeatedly saying “Take your Time” in the chorus, but he certainly isn’t taking his time enunciating every last line in the verses because the rest of the lyrics are completely up in the air, as both the lyrics I’m hearing on my own and the lyrics I’m looking up on the internet make very little sense outside of the fact that they are indeed words. So, can I tell you exactly what this song’s about? Well from what I can put together, the tone seems to suggest getting caught up in trying to figure out the chaos of existence, flipping frantically through an imaginary handbook of how to live life, while also juggling every single problem that hurdles your way.

 

Sometimes, you just need to take your time.

 

Or maybe it’s something else and I’m mixing up my lyrical extraction and my self-projection again. Who knows?

 

Scatman John – Mambo Jambo (6): And now, in between two of the most meaningful songs on the album we have Mambo Jambo. This one means nothing. I mean the lyrics are all about doing the Mambo Jambo, which is a play on words using Mambo, a Latin dance, and Mumbo Jumbo, a ritual intending to confuse. And it works because I am bobbing my head which is sort of dancing. I am also confused. It’s all scatsinging and the call to dance in bewilderment.

 

Yeah, I’m not going to analyze these lyrics. This song is clearly just meant for fun.

 

And the music only makes it clearer that fun is the goal. It’s a bit repetitive with nothing but a drumbeat with a slight jungle vibe and a harmonica. There’s a small bit of variety with the piano and its build two thirds through the song which gives it a nice little break from the scatsinging jungle harmonica. So that makes it my favorite part of the song. And besides this song is rather short so it doesn’t really overstay its welcome.

 

Scatman John – Everything Changes (8.5): And now for the best of the best. It takes a step back from the upbeat Scatman and instead focuses on feeling a little bit more laidback. Feels like elevator jazz with it’s simple nonintrusive chill vibe. A few soothing melodies and one little trumpet or saxophone solo. For someone obsessed with music, I’m afraid I have troubles telling a good trumpet from a saxophone sometimes. But both are good, so it doesn’t really affect my enjoyment all that much (pretty sure this one’s a trumpet though).

 

The lyrics of this song are the true highlight though. Everything truly does change. I’ve expressed this before, especially in my Mind.in.a.box reviews, but in case you don’t know or need a refreshing of memory, change is the central point of my worldview. Society and the people who make it up are constantly changing. And even looking at myself, the person I am is constantly changing. I see the world around me and see myself trying to strengthen my emotional fortitude while still trying to maintain the empathy that I hold dear to myself (though interestingly I don’t aim such empathy at myself, have to work on that).

 

But sometimes, it’s a bit too easy to get wrapped up in the constantly changing world and overworry about what the unknown future may bring. And so, the central message of this song declaring that sometimes it’s best to look at the present and live in that moment is quite a refreshing message of easing the stress of the future. I feel I definitely need this and I’m pretty sure there’s several people in the world that could use this line of thinking on occasion as well.

 

Scatman John – Song of Scatland (6.75): And for the last relaxing song on the album (the next two are quite upbeat), we have the ultimate depiction of Scatman’s utopia: Scatland. With a simple piano melody and a very smooth and soothing bassline, this song proves to be the most relaxing of them all. There’s a few other instruemnts, particularly the synth in the second verse and the sax in the instrumental bridge that contribute to the smooth relaxing vibe that brings the peaceful atmosphere to Scatland. But it’s the lyrics that prove to be most important to this song in particular.

 

Anyways, back to Scatland. If we look at the earlier more popular song, it seems that this land is located on Scatman’s World. Kind of like how the capital of Oklahoma is Oklahoma City, but on a larger scale. Plus, it’s also a fantasy, but it’s a fantasy worth striving for as usual. There are quite some interesting moments in this song detailing the way Scatland works, particularly the language of Scattish (not quite like a leprechaun), and the directions to Scatland (give yourself a hug and love yourself (which I have a hard time doing to be brutally honest)). And all of it does sound indeed like a paradise to strive for. It’s a bit sappy and I do find it to oversimplify the problems of this world a tiny bit, but’s still a good sentimental song.

 

Scatman John – Hi, Louis (7.75): S̶̗̠̘̫̦̟͚̝̦̔̈́Ǫ̴̨̮͇̙̞̗̫̫̭̒́̐̿͑̏̅̆͘͝N̶̼̤̼̭̞͇̏̑G̷̡̢̞͉̥̣̗̲͇̒̃̆̅̂̇̓́͠ A̷̡͙̹̳̜̳̤̼̤̲̩̰͉̗͚͚̹̳͊͜Ṅ̵̻͉͉̲̇͆̏̈̽̅̔́͑̋͒̊̋̑͂̉̀̔͂̏͗̈́̀̌̀͛͘͝A̵̡͕̪͈͙̪͚̙̳̰̹̭̠̼̭̠̗̓̉̌̊͛͒͐͒̑͛͗̆͆͑́̍̎̔͐̚̚͠͠L̸̺̺̟͔̳̇͐̽͊͐̌̉Y̵̠͂̽͗̋͐͑̂̔͋̍̏͑͑̒͊͘̕Ş̴̱͔̝̝̣̼͗̂̽̍̌́̓͆̑̒̈́̿͂̐͋̽̀̔͛̈͐̐̉̕̚͘̚̚͠İ̵̡̛̠̹̳͚̲̥̮̟̘͖̤̜͕̣̓̍̎̃͗̓̈́ͅŚ̸̨̺̭̺̻̞̝̉͑̍̌̅̃̒͂̕͠ Ư̷̧̡̧̡̻̟͉̩̗͔̮͖͚̺̖̬̥͉̩͙͛̂͂̒̄̃̓̈̅̾̓͋̍̌́̅̍̉̿̓͊̉̆̓̎̚͝͝͝ͅͅN̶̡̥͉̘̫̩̪͓͎̙̜̳͖͉͈͐̀͒̏̇̐́̄̿͆̒͌̆̐̃̈́͑̄̿̇͘͘̚͜͝͠͠Ą̶̨̨̨̧̧̛̞̮̖̫̩̦̰̜̺̤̙͈̫͈͚̘̖̥̝̗̟̬͔͖̲̠̭͚̤̯͍̭͇̥̳̭̤̖̲̹̘̩̟͙͓̳̼̩̍͒̅̀̓͗̈́̓̇̉̊͑̑̑̏̍̾̋̈̀͑̄̃̔́̈́̇̊̑̾͐͐͑̾̕̚̕̚̕͝͠͝͝͠ͅͅͅͅV̴̨̡̡̢͕͉̼̺͙̠̙͖͙̳̟̤̭͓̣͙̤̺̣͖͇̣̞̞̼̘̟̓͊̏́̋̐̄̔̊͒̀́͒͊̅̾͌̐͐͗̒̃̎͐͑̔͂͗̓̐̔̅̅̀̽͑́̈̓́̊̈́̽̎́̍̈̀̀̑͘͘͘͠͝͝͝ͅA̵̧̧̨̩̬͖͕̻͙̩̟͔̙̬̐̈͋͗͗̓͆͂̈̈́͗̔̉̃̃̈́͆̐͋̓̓̽͂̐͛̀̾̚̕͜͝͠͝ͅI̴̖̪̥̘̬̤̒͒́́́͑̓̈̍͆̍͋̉͋̑̕̚̕͠L̴̡̛̠͙̪͓̪̥͕̝͙̳̬̥͕͌̐̔̿̑̏̀̈̍̐̋͊̿̇́̂͒͛̎̍̀̉̈́͂͑͝͝͠͝͠ͅA̵̢̡̨̢̡̢̛̫̳͇͔̹̙͔̣͖̝̖̼̲͙̳̗͖̣͕͓̬̙̜̅̇̓̈͑̄̓̃͐̄͌̓̔̇̐̓̌͊̿̊͜͝ͅͅB̷̡̨̢͍̥̰̘̞͍͓̤̜͎̤͇͚̻̯͙̘̬͔͚̙̻̲̫̣͇̳̘͍̯̼̗̘͈̖̤̦̤̮͚͉̖̮̮̱̦̪͉͔̆́̾̑̾̋̑̍̑̎̃̐̔̉̓͛̍̂̄͗̆́͗͌̉͑̈́̓̄̀͋̐̑̈́̀̂͊͛̋̅̇̾͘͘͠͝͝͝ͅĻ̴̡̰͇̥͎̝̗̮̮̰̮̖̲͔̞͇̙̖͉̪̯̟̤̺̺̲̣̅̀͌̐̈́̀̓͊̆͐̀̎͂̿́̀͊͂̈́̈́́͌̍̿̈́͋̀͑̋̓̋̔̂̽̕͘͘͝ͅE̶̡͖͎͍̣̖̣̰̜̦̓͛͋̾̀̄̈̽̔̍̈̐̂͋̋̃͛̅̂̌̆͆́́͑́̀́̂͒͆̈́̋͋̉͐̀̕̕̚͠͝

 

Skeebopbadebadabadabayododayodadoandodo skoboppadobaypapapapayodadayodadangdada skaydabbabadabadoobidadodayododiyododaydodo skeebop badeep fadoobadoobadibdoodlyopdoobay skobidaybeedangdaydudayodundohdayodadodindaydaydoddobay  skadiddlydoodlyittilybootilylayliloolydaydaydoodlydadabaydadoodaydada skeebopbopbadeepfadopfadoobydopdeedadopbop  skadoobayoodindaydangdoteyodadottindudangdayoodadodayodadangdada skaybadaybadaytindaydayodadoatindoadayodadoodlabadoodlabado skababeebaabeeya bweeyabeeya skodobbadobbadoodlybadadoodlyoodadadadoodyangdayday skadiddlydoodlyittidyoodilyittidyootilydittilyoodlydididayooldidaydaydootooldayday skaybadapebopdoobydopboopbopboobydopbeepbopbobbydoobay skadopebape fadoop bopbaybobbadoobadohdoh ahbwayah ahbwayah ahbwayah ahbwayah ahbwayah aboyupbay fadop fadoop fadoobydop doopbopdoobydop beepbopboobadop skaybadaybuhdoodlybohdayodonedodayododohtindohbindobaydada skadaybittididdlydoodlybottadohdoobydoobillydoobydoodlybaydoobayoda bweebweebabadoodyoodadonaldoodayodayodohoodahoodyoandadaydop skadipdapedoadyopendangdangdoteyodendangdangdodeeyotedangdangdodeeyote skobadoopadoppadobbadabbinbobaybahyah skeebopbeedopbeedopbeedopbeedop budyaydeedoadyadooblyboadindodoyaydo doadyonedonedonedoadyodoadyo skaybaydibbydoodlybadop bweepapadoadyonedadoddindodayopaydobbadobbadopbadop zingdabubbadoodyizzazoggadoodydiddlybongdodeyongdangdadow zingdadahuzzingdadahuzzingdadahuzzingdada scoopboobyootadattictidayobbadoopdaydaydodo zingbeebeebeebeebeebeebeebeebeebeebeebeepapayapapayapapayapapayapabopbuyday badoodyoodindodohoandadoandodadaydaydooblybodayodendayday badalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalala bobbay bobbay bobbay bobbayoohbaybee azoopadoodayobbadoopadobbayodaydoandoandadang dada skalillybaylillybaylillybaylillybaylillybaylillybaylillybaylillybaylillybay skalillybaylillybaylillybaylillybaylillybaylillybaylillybaylillybaylillybay baydalillybaylillybaylillybaylillybay lillydibbadibbadaydiddybaydiduh babadoodayodayyodayyodabwiddapadoopbwiddaydoodayubbadoyah.

 

Scatman John – Scatman (Game Over Jazz) (8): You know, these last two songs on this album are just about having a good ol’ fun time. I… can’t quite remember what I said for the last song. I think I blacked out… But knowing me, it must have been completely articulate and some good song analysis. But that song is already in the past, we’ve got to live in the moment of this song right here. This one is a remix of the famous ski-ba-bop-ba-dop-bop that defines Scatman’s career, and while it doesn’t quite match up in meaning to the original version (the verses are completely absent, it’s just the scatsinging), it definitely makes up for it with the absolutely amazing funky jazz it has. The groove that bassline provides throughout the song definitely helps give the song a nice bounce to it and the rest of the instruments make this song work flawlessly with the jazz. Scatman’s vocals are a special instrument of their own that fit quite well with the piano. And of course, there’s the brass that steals the spotlight. I, once again, am not fully certain if this is a saxophone or a really good trumpet, but right now, I’m actually leaning towards the saxophone. Either way, this song is great jam to conclude Scatman John’s debut album.

 

Conclusion: Scatman is quite different from any of the artists I’ve reviewed. The era, genre and overall mood are completely alien to any song I’ve reviewed in the first half of this year. I can’t really hold my taste to omne area to be honest and while I do usually ten to the edgier songhs, there is something refreshing with the occasional more uplifting song. Scatman does seem like he should be one of those sappy artists I hate, but there’s something so sincere and authentic about the way he presents his optimism that really sweeps me up into a temporary elation of humanity’s potential. Of course, in iorder to harness this potential and embrace the utopia Scatman presents we all will have to commit a lot of effort to creating it. But I like to believe that it is possible, despite the chaos in the present, that we can find peace in the future.

 

That we can find Scatman’s World.

 

Final Score: 7/10

Celldweller – Celldweller Part 3 (2013 Instrumentals)

Album Links:

 

Bandcamp (instrumentals only): https://celldweller.bandcamp.com/album/celldweller-10-year-anniversary-edition-instrumentals

Soundcloud (original album and bonus tracks only): n/a

Spotify (full album): https://open.spotify.com/album/1gStSHuxB1XHGBzPDQHU9w?si=-zbQHTIATBy5VEUPoeVCGw

Youtube (Instrumentals from disc 1 only): https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLyL2RhXM8konpM1jG5Bb9NAzKiM4Dn4zD

Youtube (Instrumentals from disc 2 only): https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLyL2RhXM8konPjM_Tww92DcPG2XHA9OfG

 

Introduction: Final round of Celldweller’s debut album and we can put Klayton to rest for a good while as I return to some of the other artists I’ve been reviewing as well as branch out to others that I haven’t yet touched. But first, it’s time to finish up the last third of the review: the 26 instrumental songs. There may be no words left on this album. But I’ll say a few words regardless.

 

Celldweller – Switchback (Instrumental) (6): So, you may remember in the first part of this review, I mentioned the personal Switchback “meme” that my brother and I share. This is where it began. The instrumental for Switchback. Well, it actually wasn’t really as funny until we did it with the instrumental of Unshakeable, but you get the idea. However, while this was the starting point of heightening my enjoyment of Switchback’s vocals, it doesn’t actually benefit from this because those vocals are the best part of Switchback and since this is an instrumental. They simply aren’t present.

 

Ah well, I don’t want to spend too long talking about what this song isn’t. Let’s go over quickly about what the song is. First off, I want to point out the beginning of this track and how it differs a bit from the original. Why? Well, there are three Cell tracks on the original album, none of which get their own instrumental (like anyone wants thirty seconds of random ambience anyway), but Cell #1 gets some special attention in comparison to the rest as its second half is actually snuck into the beginning of this instrumental.

 

The rest of the song is… less interesting. The parts of the song that are able to utilize some of the electric side of Celldweller intrigue me slightly, but the solo rock portions are repetitive at best and they just end up making me miss the lyrics more than anything else. The closest thing this song has to an improvement is that there’s a great bassline that didn’t get much focus in the bridge, but when push comes to shove, the vocals are more important to this song than that bassline.

 

Celldweller – Stay with Me (Unlikeley) (7.25): For this song, I feel the departure of vocals actually lends its way to appreciating more of the melodies and glitches this song has to offer. And the song carries itself poised exactly as it would with vocals. Take the verses for example. In the original, there’s a couple of lines in the song that diverge from the rest (“me who said it” and “me who did it”) and while I didn’t notice it in the original (because the vocals were no top of them duh), there’s a little riff on lying underneath that carries the same energy.

 

The absence of the lyrics is an odd loss as I’m still not certain if they were truly well executed in the original. It could be about the inner turmoil of isolation (which I enjoy) but it also could be about toxic relationships. Why do I mention this here where the lyrics aren’t even relevant to this instrumental. Well, I guess I can’t tell how to rate it in relationship to those original vocals. I am thinking that this might be a slight step down, but it’s ever so slight it almost doesn’t even matter.

 

Celldweller – The Last Firstborn (Instrumental) (8): Oh yeah, remember when I said the original song would have been a bit better if there weren’t any vocals getting in the way? Well look at this! No violently suicidal vocals! Instead we have that wonderful switching back and forth between the rock and electronic that I listen to Celldweller for. And the best part is that it doesn’t even seem like the vocals are missing.

 

Most instrumental songs have an issue with feeling somewhat empty or overly repetitive. The Last Firstborn has so much constantly going on and so much constantly changing that it doesn’t even matter that the vocals are gone. It’s actually tough to highlight everything amazing that this song does, but a lot of it does have to do with the fact that there’s never a moment where one side of Celldweller electronic or rock truly takes over. My favorite parts are definitely the quicker paced electronic portions with perfectly arpeggiated chaos and a great underlying guitar for the bass. Though the bridge also deserves some mentioning

 

Whatever I highlight, the entire seven minutes is exceedingly enjoyable, and it really makes me appreciate how much effort was put into this song.

 

Celldweller – Under my Feet (Instrumental) (8.25): Without the lyrics, this song just sounds like a great journey that the guitar goes through as it progressively gets more intense. And considering that was my favorite part of the original song, I’m really happy to hear it in the spotlight. I’d already gone perhaps a bit too much in depth in the music of the original version of this review on all of the instruments surrounding this guitar’s journey (drums, choir, etc.).

 

The main takeaway is that here I can enjoy the journey without any distractions. There is one point in the middle of the song that pauses before leaping the farthest jump in intensity. It feels a little off, likely because there were some vocals closing that gap initially, but it’s not an overwhelming fault and to make up for it, the absence of the vocals in the end is extremely welcome. In the original song there were some spiteful lyrics at the end that ruined the entire message and left a bad taste in my mouth. Here, however, the journey simply fades out with the same melody the song began with. A much more satisfying form of poetry than spite.

 

Celldweller – I Believe you (Instrumental) (6.25): Ok, so while I’ve surprisingly had a good bit to say about the songs so far, this one is going to be short. I have so very little to say about it because not much in particular is standing out to me. Throughout all the rock portions of the track (and that makes up most of it), I can’t seem to find much that’s all that remarkable in comparison to anything else we’ve heard. I do enjoy bits and pieces of it. The syncopation, the little melody that occasionally appears. But most of the guitar riffs aren’t all that great. However, I do like the riffs a bit better when they’re distorted in such a way that makes them feel more distant like at the beginning. Also, the same riff is clearly better when played by a bassy synth at the minute mark. Well, at least it’s better in my opinion. My electronic bias is showing.

 

Since I am listening to this on loop as I review it, I must make sure to mention that this song loops very nicely, as that pause at the end is exactly four beats. It’s kind of an abrupt ending when played otherwise, but if you want to listen to this song forever, then you’re in for a treat. I don’t even want to do that with sons I thoroughly enjoy though so I’m going to have to pass on that one.

 

Celldweller – Frozen (Instrumental) (6.5): Hey, wait a second. This isn’t instrumental. There’s still that one moaning chick saying, “Let’s Go.” What a ripoff! I demand my money back! Except for the fact that I’m listening to this off of Spotify so the closest I am to paying for this track is the ten dollar monthly fee, and I have feeling that Spotify isn’t going to refund me my ten bucks just because some woman decided to attempt a seductive moan when she shouldn’t have. But hey, if you want to give me ten bucks, then I’m all up for it (shameless Patreon reminder).

 

Ah well, other than that, how does the rest of the track hold up. Eh. It’s a bit repetitive. I mean, I appreciate that it’s no longer oddly sexual in a way that doesn’t even seem enjoyable, but what’s left behind is a lot of empty creepiness in the verses and a simple melody in the chorus with nothing to distract from the fact that it might be considered a little bit annoying.  It’s the basslines that really save this song from falling by the wayside. Whenever, that two-note melody isn’t distracting, there’s an extra amount of focus on the basslines and they give a healthy variety to this track in the creepier verses and the first half of the bridge. And the second half of the bridge has a great guitar solo that’s worth noting.

 

Really, Frozen is a lot more enjoyable when the song itself isn’t about lack of enjoyment. Go figure.

 

Celldweller – Symbiont (Instrumental) (7.5): Funny how many of the songs with more uncomfortable lyrics have the best instrumentals. I mean, this isn’t quite as good as The Last Firstborn or Under My Feet, but the constant switch back and forth between the great halftime groove introduced in what was the song’s verses and the more upbeat insanity that comes in at the chorus. That first section has a consistent nice groove to it with the occasional glitching and the perfect smooth bassline. And then on the other side, we have the sudden drum and bass tempo with great guitar solos and some a drumbeat singing out the titular lyrics of the song (if the titular lyrics were there). Really, this one’s just a good enjoyable experience. Not exceptional, but definitely notable.

 

Celldweller – Afraid This Time (Instrumental) (7): The rewound elements of this particular song make for quite an unsettling introduction. I mean it gets better once the guitar and piano roll in there. In fact, it’s actually quite relaxing, but before that, you have to admit this song’s a bit creepy. And while creepy is all fine and good, the combination of piano and acoustic guitar is much better. Sometimes, all you need for a good time is a drumbeat, a piano and a guitar.

 

Unfortunately, this does mean that the parts of the song that are entirely drums and electronic bassline definitely pale in comparison to that perfect trio. I’m struggling to come up with anything to say about this chorus but I’m afraid it’s just uninteresting without the vocals. Which is a shame because that hampers the good guitar and piano we have in the verses.

 

Celldweller – Fadeaway (Instrumental) (8): Fadeaway’s instrumental goes through three phases. Well, I guess the original went through three phases as well as every single part of this instrumental is present in the original, but it’s much more relevant here as there are no good vocals to distract from the rest of the song. Yeah, that’s going to be a slipback in this case, but let’s talk about what the song does have.

 

The first phase obviously starts at the beginning during the first couple verses. It’s here that the song has some ominous slow pacing. The bass rumbles softly, foreboding the spectacularity that is the second phase. Every once and a while a couple of guitar melodies break the calmness, giving a break to the bassline that beckons danger, but such breaks are temporary until we reach the second phase.

 

The second phase takes all the energy that’s been building up for the past minute and a half and finally puts it to good use with the lovely quick paced DnB. There’s some decent variety here as new instruments are constantly being added and replaced, possibly allowing me to divide this phase into subphases, but I’m not going to do that. Right now, I’m just going to highlight the acidic bass that comes in at around 1:50 and the final few moments of this phase. After all the built-up energy from these guitars, a few short collections of riffs set the stage for the final phase.

 

And after just a couple seconds of silence (thanks to missing vocals), the song enters it’s final phase, one which builds up from a nice acoustic guitar laid on top of on a subtle electronic melody (which was present in the “silence” I just mentioned but I’m still calling it silence). The song doesn’t stay necessarily at this calmer acoustic level but slowly does build its way up to some bits of more intense rock, likely on the same level at the end of phase 2. It’s really nice to have a song build from simple lovely combinations into something a bit more extreme. I call that a build up from nothing. Not the best example, but it is an example, just as this is an example as a good instrumental.

 

Was better with lyrics though.

 

Celldweller – So Sorry to Say (Instrumental) (7.75): As I’d mentioned when I reviewed the vocal version of this song two weeks ago, this song stands out among many of the other Celldweller tracks due its use of strings and piano. Most songs in the Celldweller discography are some variety of rock (be it hard or soft) with some mixture of electronic elements sprinkled in there. And while this song does have some of the normal Celldweller in it. There are some good strings in many parts of the songs and the piano serves as the most memorable part of this instrumental due to their more unique nature. There’s also some odd distorted vocals near the end which I enjoy despite this being labeled an instrumental.

 

Now, I’m not just highlighting all these atypical instruments of this song to say that the rock and electronic parts are worthless in comparison. There’s plenty of variety to be had just looking at the guitar work and the glitched out drumbeat. The latter of which is generally pretty self-explanatory. A bit of syncopation and semi-unpredictability is exactly what I like and expect from drums such as these. The former, which definitely does have its usual moments does step up to provide some a good underlying drive in the song’s chorus

 

So yes, this song does hold up quite well on its own. It was admittedly a slight bit better with the existential isolation lyrics, but it still works well enough on its own.

 

Celldweller – Own Little World (Instrumental) (6): As soon as this instrumental begins my heart starts racing with pleasure, but the only reason for that is because I love the original so much. Because without the lyrics, this song really feels a bit more underwhelming than it should. Oh, it’s good, but it just feels a bit empty. The verses have this cool feeling that’s a bit more chill than the chorus as well as a bit more chilling. It doesn’t play too much with that feeling though. And the chorus is even more riskless. It’s just a couple of guitars playing the chord progression with a beat in the background. When I was listening to the original song I was so hyped up by the lyrics and their delivery that I didn’t even care how simple the chorus was. I was too busy singing along to care. And now I can’t do that. Now I’m uninterested

 

It really almost feels like the same one-minute song played twice in a row, with a final iteration with some slight changes: a verse that’s a bit less chill and chilling and a chorus that’s a bit more intense. It just ends up being a skippable instrumental which is rather surprising considering how much I enjoy the original.

 

Celldweller – Unlikely (Stay With Me) (Instrumental) (7): There are so few lyrics in the vocal version of this song, that this version feels pretty much exactly the same. And so, since I was kind of drawn towards the instrumental anyway when originally reviewing this song, I really am not left with much to say here. There’s a decent blend of electronic and rock in this one, with neither side of the Celldweller coin overpowering the other. It has nothing on the instrumental of Last Firstborn, but it still allows for a nice tone and development… Really that covers pretty much all I feel like saying on this one. It was a good song and it still is.

 

Celldweller – One Good Reason (Instrumental) (4.5): You know what? I have even less to say about this one. It drones on at the beginning sounding like a swarm of bees and then from then on out it’s just an unremarkable Celldweller song. Mostly rock with such minimal electronic portions that are only apparent in the chiller intro. I’m sure I mentioned this in the original review but it’s too heavy and gritty for my tastes.

 

At least the worst lyrics on the album are gone.

 

Celldweller – The Stars of Orion (Instrumental) (8): The Stars of Orion was another song with minimal lyrics like Unlikely (Stay With Me). But there is a difference here. While I wouldn’t say the lyrics of the original are bad (they’re pretty meaningless really), I feel like they do distract from the main creepy mood of the song. The mood created by all of the interesting instrumental content this song has to offer. It starts and ends with some great ambience, and the middle is covered in good distorted electronic basslines that fit a song of this tempo and drum pattern (hint, it’s DnB which is pretty much a guarantee of enjoyment for me). This song ends up creating an environment of feeling lost even more than the original could, making it one of my favorite instrumentals of the album (other than the songs rated 8.25).

 

Celldweller – Welcome to the End (Instrumental) (6.5): Oh no, I’m not welcoming you to the end of this review yet. Sure, this may have been the conclusion to the first part of this review, but I still have to do all the bonus tracks after this. So, I guess I’m welcoming you to the middle (about 60% done).

 

Welcome to The End is, once again, the chilliest song the album has to offer. And I’m including the vocal songs as well. Without the vocals (unless you count what I believe are dolphins at the beginning as vocals but nonhumans are not valid), this song is utterly relaxing. It’s no longer a cryptic story of leaving one’s home. It’s just a song that paints a picture of relaxing near the ocean. At least I visualize it as an ocean. The dolphins and the occasional bubbling do help with that whole thing.

 

Unfortunately, the song does feel a bit empty as it’s trying to make room for the vocals that aren’t there.  The guitar breaks the silence on occasion. But unfortunately, the song has a paradoxical relationship with the vocals. It’s more relaxing without, but with that relaxation comes an emptiness. Perhaps with a more meditative mood, this can be enjoyed, but I’ve never been one to clear my mind. So this one just stands as a good song.

 

Celldweller & Tom Salta – Ghosts (Instrumental) (7.25): And here we have a Deluxe instrumental of a Deluxe track. There’s less of these to go through, but just as much good to point out. The original’s lyrics really didn’t come too much into my play on my opinion with this one, so we’re not missing much this time around. In fact, I think this song improves a bit focusing on just the variety of sections this song has. Sure, there are a few spots where the song feels a bit emptier than it should with the absence of lyrics. Within each section of the song, there isn’t much melodic variety, which is usually covered by the cleaner vocals this song has to offer. Where there’s the grittier vocals, the song sounds a bit more complete as the bassline here holds its own. Except maybe that moment at the three minute mark where the song pauses for two full seconds for Celldweller to scream those last couple words… except he’s not screaming those words today. He isn’t there vocally. That’s the point of an instrumental.

 

But Tom Salta’s strings are definitely the star of the show here. They were the best part of the song when the vocals were present, and they still are. Outside of the bassy gritty portions of the song, it’s these strings that provide most of the variety., present especially in the chorus and before each verse. It’s a pleasure to see a few clean smooth instruments clash with Celldweller’s harsher style. This one doesn’t reach the same heights as So Sorry to Say. The basslines in this song do allow for some good variety as well, not as noticeable as the strings, but the difference between the more electronically focused bass in the verses and the rock focused bass in the chorus is distinct enough to add the perfect touch to this song.

 

Celldweller – Uncrowned (Instrumental) (7.75): Ok, this is just your typical fantastically intense DnB track. And I love DnB so that’s a good thing. Plus there’s plenty of guitars as expected from Celldweller so that’s a slight extra flavor that makes it stand out a bit from the other typical fantastically intense DnB tracks. I do quite enjoy it when rock and electronic collide (which is probably my favorite thing about Celldweller) and this song is once again one that shows off a bit of that diversity, delegating the bass to the electronic side and pretty much everything else to the rock. Oh, but it still feels quite balanced with how much bass variety this song has as it switches between lightning paced DnB and some good half-time that can be used as a breather with strings instead of guitars. The song is constantly changing, keeping me on my toes as I’m shifted back and forth between rock and electronic, DnB and halftime, this riff to that riff. The list goes on and the song is enjoyable the whole way through.

 

Celldweller – Tragedy (Instrumental) (5.75): Remember when I’d first reviewed Tragedy? I mentioned how the song really sounded like Celldweller just wanted to make a cover of a Bee Gees song with an edgier rock-oriented twist. And that’s all he really wanted to do. Make a rock cover and have a little fun without worrying over whether or not the music was exceptional. So, what is this song without the lyrics that make it a Bee Gees cover?

 

Not much. I mean, it’s not bad, but it’s so riskless in comparison to the other Celldweller songs once you strip them all down to the basics. This song is just another track to move on from.

 

Celldweller – Shapeshifter (Instrumental) (7): What is Shapeshifter without its rapped verses and violently misheard chorus? Well, the end result is still a song that still stands out a bit from its surrounding instruemntals. Or maybe I’m just saying that because anything will feel it stands out after listening to tragedy…

 

Ah well, unique or not this song has a lot of good strengths, sticking strongly to that electronic rock fusion. The rock is definitely the overwhelming of the two sides here (as per usual), but it isn’t a situation in which the electronic is completely covered up. The chorus is a bad example as the only thing close to electronic there is that annoying synth which does not help this song’s case that much (It’s only in the first chorus this time though so that’s different). The verses on the other hand have some good little plucks of flavor that help keep the song interesting even without the rapper providing the usual variety. And in the bridge, the absence of the vocals really brings out some great bassline work. I wasn’t quite certain if it was still electronic or not upon my first couple listens, but it doesn’t really matter the origin of this sound. It really adds a lot to the bridge and I’m thankful that this instrumental has allowed me to home in on its excellency.

 

Electronics aside, the parts that are fully rock do truly rock. So, I’m not at all bothered by them overtaking the spotlight at parts in this song. There’s something about the final chorus that really feels like it concludes the song quite nicely. Of course, maybe that’s just because it follows that great bridge… and it is the end of the song…

 

Still don’t know what this song has to do with shapeshifting.

 

Celldweller – Goodbye (Klayton remix) (Instrumental) (7.5): Klayton’s remix of Celldweller’s Goodbye (it’s odd and I’ll never get used to it), is a 7-minuter, which means that in order to succeed, it really needs to have a good dynamic variety to make it worth its time. And that can be tricky to do with an instrumental song that was originally made to have vocals providing some of that variety. However, I believe this nonlinear remix of Goodbye does succeed in that variety. It does so barely, but it’s just enough.

 

The beginning of the song seems to have a bassline that drones on for quite a while at first, but the drums accompany to lengthen its lifespan of interest for some time until the song fully picks up its pace with a second bassline (yes) a full DnB drumbeat (even more yes). The bassline does undergo a healthy amount of variation as the song progresses, but it never gets tired as it does take some breaks to bring in a guitar to fill in the space for a short bit, elongating the time this DnB can reasonably continue. And before it runs dry, the song finally takes a small step back tempo wise and trades the lightning paced syncopation for some slower slightly more dramatic half time with much more focus on the guitar this time around as it eventually distorts its way into a good solo for the ending as the song returns to its creepy droning roots.

 

I really can’t say that a certain part of this song is my favorite part. It’s simply a good variety of some really good ideas. Sometimes, that’s all you need for an enjoyable experience.

 

Celldweller – The Last Firstborn (Klayton remix) (Instrumental) (7.75): In my last two reviews, comparing the original version of the Last Firstborn to this Klayton remix, the latter was the clear winner. However, the reason for that victory had very little to do with the music itself, but simply because the slightly stripped down lyrics of this version happened to strip away the most problematic portions of the song. But this third part of the Celldweller review, changes everything. Because now all the lyrics have been stripped away. Klayton’s remix no longer has the lyrical advantage and now the two songs can be held side by side to determine which one is truly musically better.

 

It’s the original.

 

I mean, this is good and all and I stand by the 7.75/10 I gave it last week, but there really is little difference between this and the lyrical version. I still appreciate the mysterious progression and the focus on the electronic arp that proved to be my favorite part of the original, but there’s so many other things in the original that contribute to the electronic rock fusion that is Celldweller. And it’s that balanced fusion that really makes The Last Firstborn so exceptional. Without the lyrics holding it back, Klayton’s remix never stood a chance.

 

Still a good remix though.

 

Celldweller – Switchback (Klayton remix) (Instrumental) (6.75): Because the Copy Paste Repeat remix doesn’t have an instrumental (for understandably chaotic reasons), we’re having three of those Klayton remixes in a row. If it weren’t for the next two songs, we’d be able to knock all four of them out in one shot (though honestly, I think I’d rather have eliminated the fourth Klayton remix than sacrifice the two songs in between).

 

Anyways, we’re back to the iconic Switchback song, just without the iconic switchbacking vocals… So, is it worth anything? Well, even without the vocals, there are still plenty of elements here that are reminiscent of the original. The most prominent of them being the bassline. Now, as you saw in the beginning of this review, I’m not particularly fond of this bassline. I don’t dislike it. I’m just not fond of it. But here, it seems to work a bit better. Perhaps that’s because this is a more electronic version of switchback and not the original almost entirely rock version we heard earlier. And because of that, I’m noticing a bit more variety in how the instrumentation transforms over time. And that’s especially noticeable with the lyrics stripped away.

 

The song is still missing the variety that is usually provided by the bridge, which does hold the track back slightly and I feel with that tiny hint more of variety it would reach that 7 point threshold, but alas, it shall reside back with a 6.75.

 

This is the last of the five Switchback songs in this entire deluxe album. No going back now.

 

It’s too late to switch back.

 

Celldweller – Atmospheric Light (Demo Redux) (Instrumental) (6): This is the only demo to get an instrumental for some reason. Perhaps the redux means something that allows it to have an instrumental when the others couldn’t. Which is really a shame because Waiting could really have used an instrumental. This song on the other hand… well I didn’t really mind the lyrics from the original (didn’t enjoy them all that much but didn’t mind them), so this song didn’t need an instrumental. And to be honest, this song is really one of the most repetitive tracks that this entire album has to offer. The main electronic synth feels like it’s playing the same couple notes over and over again with maybe a little bit of automation, but not enough to give the song a full fleshed out feeling to it. The guitar does help a little and the strings do make the song actually feel complete for a brief moment, but for the most part, this song just feels a bit empty. Some decent mysterious vibes, but other than that quite insignificant.

 

Celldweller – Own Little World (Blue Stahli remix) (Instrumental) (8.25): While the instrumental of the original version of this song kind of fell flat, Blue Stahli’s version can easily hold its own even without my favorite lyrics on the album. Everything I initially enjoyed about this remix is even better the second time around. I already spoke pretty in depth about the nonvocal elements of this song last week as the vocals were already covered the week before, but there are still some things I want to go a tiny bit more in depth with.

 

First off, there’s the funky guitar in the verses. I already knew this bassline has a good groove when I’d first heard this song, but without the lyrics, there’s such a heavy focus on the deep groovy feeling emanating from the bass end of this track that I simply have to mention it again. Really any moment of the guitar is driven with so much intensity that its surprising that the vocals were able to make a mark without being overwhelmed by the instrumental. But it all worked out with the vocals, and it works quite nearly as well without. Same goes for the build-up from nothing, which was originally laden with Celldweller’s lyricless cries and now is able to have a bit more focus on the strings that serve as the backbone for that track.

 

It’s all still better with vocals though. That was obvious from the start.

 

Celldweller – Shapeshifter (Klayton remix) (Instrumental) (7.5): There is very little to say on this one. I may have bit myself in the butt when reviewing these remixes, as it’s difficult to talk of anything but music after all of the lyrical analysis has already left my system when I’d reviewed the original. And when I’d reviewed this remix, all I really said was that this song is more intense and aggressive than the original. I gave a few examples of why, but a lot of it comes down to how dense this song has become. Every single second of this song is filled to the brim with intense basslines and the like that it’s incredibly overwhelming. The electronic elements (most noticeably the simple plucks and melodies in the verses) have become a lot more prominent, but none of the guitarwork has suffered because of it.

 

I’ve said so much between the other three times I’ve reviewed Shapeshifter (all of which are somewhat similar musically outside of intensity and whether or not there are vocals), that I feel that there is very little left to say for this one.

 

Celldweller – Goodbye (Instrumental) (5.5): Goodbye has a great build at the beginning of the song, filled with ominous basslines (both the long sweeping distortion and the wavering notes) and the occasional melody. This build is the best part of the song, concluding with some a good rise with the guitar as we near the main theme of the song.

 

And that’s about all I have to say positively for this one. This song goes nowhere. This wasn’t much of a problem with the original version as it had some existential lyrics about the neverending passage of time, but as time passes in this version… it’s just not that interesting. The guitar is repetitive and plodding. The short breaks are somewhat appreciated, but I’ve noticed that they’re really the same pattern without the guitar. The melody near the end does provide a bit more variety, but it really wouldn’t be special in any other song. Only reason I appreciate it here is because the rest of the song is a bit bland. And that says more about the low quality of the song than the higher quality of the melody.

 

And as it turns out, because the demos are defunct and there’s no instrumental available for the orchestral wonder that is Switchback (No I’m Not remix), we are actually ending this review, once and for all with a fitting song.

 

Goodbye.

 

Conclusion: Ok, that’s the last of Celldweller I plan on reviewing for a long while. I love the guy, but his Deluxe albums are a bit extreme, especially this time around. And so, after three whole consecutive weeks of Celldweller, I plan on delaying coming back to revisit his discography any time soon. Maybe not even this year. Good album though. There were definitely some rough patches here and there, but each part of the review got better and better. In some ways I guess the instrumentals didn’t add too much content for me to talk about, but I feel it did allow me to shed some nice light on some of the edgier tracks whose lyrics got in the way. Sometimes, you just have to strip down a song to its elements to truly enjoy it. This doesn’t always work though as there were definitely a few songs in here that would have been better had Klayton still been singing, but you can’t win them all. But seeing as the score has slightly improved, I guess you have to win some of them.

 

Final Score for Original album: (6.5/10)

Final Score for Bonus Tracks: (6.75/10)

Final Score for Instrumentals: (7/10)

Final Score for Album Overall: (6.75/10)

 

Celldweller – Celldweller Part 2 (2013 bonus tracks)

Album Links:

 

Bandcamp (original album and bonus tracks only): https://celldweller.bandcamp.com/album/celldweller-10-year-anniversary-deluxe-edition

Soundcloud (original album and bonus tracks only): https://soundcloud.com/celldweller/sets/celldweller-10-year-2

Spotify (full album): https://open.spotify.com/album/1gStSHuxB1XHGBzPDQHU9w?si=-zbQHTIATBy5VEUPoeVCGw

Youtube (original album and bonus tracks only): https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLnUoeQ45vgmtIWyb40DiweCdge84Y282Y

 

Introduction: I spent plenty of time introducing Celldweller and the rest of Klayton’s aliases last week, though most of them aren’t relevant for this review. Well, Celldweller is relevant because it’s his album, and it could also be argued that the Klayton’s Alias makes an appearance as there’s a good handful of songs here saying they’re remixed by Klayton (which is just a fancy way of saying it’s a VIP or rework). Besides, these Klayton remixes don’t quite match the modern purpose of that particular moniker.

 

That being said, I do believe that this review will be slightly shorter than the last as there are indeed some remixes (meaning no lyrical analysis required) as well as some “demos” (which are a bit more bare-boned).

 

More in depth explanations of what’s going on in this album will come in due time.

 

Celldweller & Tom Salta – Ghosts (7): Welcome…

 

To a new beginning…

 

Let’s begin this bonus content extravaganza with Ghosts, Celldweller teams up with another artist to create a new combination of rock, electronic AND orchestral. That last bit is likely thanks to Tom Salta an artist that has released on Klayton’s FiXT label under the name Atlas Plug. Oh, and I think he might have made the soundtrack for a video game franchise called Hola or something. I don’t know, it has a lot of guns or something. I’m a music lover, not a gamer.

 

I do feel that there’s a bit of overlap between the Tom Salta & Celldweller styles, so it’s rather difficult to parse exactly what other elements he’s responsible for other than the assumption that Celldweller doesn’t usually dip into the orchestral stuff like this. The breakbeat bassline sections are a bit more his style. I had guessed for a second that he might have been responsible for the clean vocals on the song, but I think that was just my bias of seeing a feat. Rather than an & and expecting an extra vocalist (I always change feat. to & in my reviews so I guess that confusion doesn’t translate well here and just makes you even more confused). The vocals do sound a little bit different, but that could be my mind playing tricks on me. I don’t believe that Tom is really the singing type from what I know though, but I could be wrong. It’s kind of hard to uncover this information. Perhaps I should just go with the assumption that there is no information not uncover.

 

Well, I’ve talked about Tom long enough and I think I’ve summed up the music well enough with the little bits I’ve scattered through the Tom discussion so perhaps I can speak of some lyrics now. The lynchpin to discovering what this song is about is clearly the identity of these ghosts. I’ve taken some time looking to see if I can scrounge up some meaning other than the enjoyment of talking edgily about dead things, but it’s proven difficult to come up with a definitive answer that feels like it tightly fits those lyrics. I want to say the song has to do with facing ones past regrets that threaten to haunt us, but I really feel like I’m reaching for that one and when I feel like I’m reaching, then maybe there’s nothing there to begin with.

 

Until one of you reads this and it easily dawns on you what the meaning is and then you message me on Twitter or something to tell me how blind I have been to the message that these ghosts are presenting. Don’t get mad at me. Ghosts are invisible. How am I supposed to see?

 

Celldweller – Uncrowned (6.75): Drum. And. Bass. One of the fastest subgenres of EDM and this song clocks in at about 190 BPM which is an exceptionally speedy tempo, even for DnB. The basslines and guitar riffs do a pretty good job of keeping up with the energy. There could be a bit more variety as much of the song feels rather similar with the same basslines and guitar riffs over and over again, but I think the overall speed of the track (plus the occasional slower portion) makes up for that lack of variety.

 

As for the lyrics, well, they’re a bit iffy. Remember Under My Feet and how the last line of that song was incredibly spiteful wishing for another’s downfall. Yeah that spiteful ending encompasses the entirety of this song. Whether or not this makes the lyrics worse or better than Under my Feet is debatable, as more focus on the disliked lyrics is logically worse, but I feel part of what made Under My Feet’s ending so bad is its context. The entirety of the song before that point had been about Celldweller rising out of the pit he’s in and so the spiteful ending was incredibly unfitting to the mood. This song has no such context and so the entire message of the song is pride goeth before the fall and you and your legacy will inevitably fade away from eternity. And while I think I’d prefer something a bit more inspiring, I think I’m still able to enjoy the edgy side of these lyrics on their own.

 

Celldweller – Tragedy (6.25): So, sometime in the years approaching 2013, Klayton (the man behind Celldweller in case you forgot), was listening to some music back from the late 70s and as he listened to Bee Gees, he thought to himself “huh, this song is good, but you know what it needs? Some gritty guitar riffs with a darker tone.”

 

And you know what? It turned out to be a pretty good idea. It’s not top notch Celldweller. I’d say it’s actually rather par for the course when it comes to this album: mostly rock, with the occasional hint of electronic. There are some parts that stand out such as the rising and falling of the arpeggiated chord progression as the bridge transitions between the last two choruses. An ok melody there too. But for the most part, this song just sounds like Klayton just wanted to have a little fun creating a simple Celldweller spin on a song he enjoyed.

 

As for the lyrics, they do run the uncomfortable route that is a break-up song. I mean, it’s a better theme than the toxic relationship, perhaps even the correct course of action to follow a toxic relationship, but I still rarely find the theme to be really all that enjoyable to listen to and discuss. The best a break-up song can do is rise above the rest and actually be mature instead of the childish whining and complaining I see in many break-up songs. This one is roughly in the middle for me. Oh, Celldweller is definitely showing some bitterness towards the deteriorating relationship, but it’s all internal turmoil. There is no fault placed in the other’s hands. It’s all him and his bleak depression that’s creating this world of tragedy. It’s not ideal, but it’s realistic and certainly not an annoying line of reasoning. Would be nice if Celldweller could find a way to overcome this tragedy that is taking over his life, but sometimes tragedy is all we see…

 

And by Celldweller I mean the Bee Gees because they were the ones who originally wrote this song. It sounded a little bit different back then.

 

 

Celldweller & Styles of Beyond – Shapeshifter (6): Of all the bonus track I’m reviewing today, this one is the most popular. In fact, it might be the only one of these tracks to even hold a candle to Switchback and Frozen. But that’s the consensus of the general public (which I more often than not disagree with). But regardless of how much love I think Own Little World deserves more attention, where does Shapeshifter stand in relation to the two powerhouses I mentioned? Somewhere in between…

 

The first thing you might notice about Shapeshifter is how different the vocals are from the rest of Celldweller’s work. Well, the obvious explanation for this is found right in the credits of the song: Celldweller AND Styles of Beyond. Now, I’m not very well versed (not versed at all actually) on this artist’s discography beyond Shapeshifter, but I believe it’s a safe bet to say that he’s the rapper that gives this Celldweller track a unique twist. But is it a twist I like? I am quite picky with my rap after all as lyrical content is more important than ever with such a genre.

 

So hey, that will work as the perfect segue to trying to decipher these lyrics… It’s ‘bout cars. There’s nothing deep to this. 500 words over three and a half minutes, and it’s all about outracing the cops while racing other sweet rides (not sure what this has to do with shapeshifting, but I’m just going to roll with it). Not exactly what I’m looking for, but I don’t really dislike it either. Really, it just feels like the type of rap you’d slap on top of a beat with above average intensity. And seeing as the intense beats are quite common for Celldweller, it seems that this rap fits perfectly.

 

Speaking of the intensity of Celldweller, now may be a good time to appreciate the striking guitar riffs and the few subtle electronic elements in the verses. I really enjoy these subtleties the best as they provided that perfect extra touch to give the verses a tiny boost of variety. There’s also the overload of guitar in the chorus, but I’m not as much of a fan of those parts of the song. Same goes for the brudge to a lesser extent.

 

In the end, I’m feeling rather neutral about this one. Nothing about it is bad, but there’s not much here that’s really great either.

 

One last thing I forgot to mention when talking about the vocals would be Celldweller’s screaming in the chorus and the bridge. Not my favorite side of his vocal style but it does suit the song. But the real reason I want to mention it is because I want to introduce one common reoccurring issue I have with certain lyrics. Oh, it’s not any fault of the song. It’s all about my own mishearing the lyrics that is causing this odd and perhaps concerning issue. Until I reviewed the song today, I did not realize that the chorus was just repeating the name of the song. No, apparently my violent brain decided that Celldweller was screaming “DIE… JUST DIE!” From here on out, Shapeshifter Syndrome will refer to moments where I mishear lyrics and interpret them, to be much more disturbingly violent than they really are (though considering the tone of those vocals can you really blame me in this case?).

 

Celldweller – Goodbye (Klayton Remix) (7.25): Ok, so this is quite odd. Here we are about the quarter of the way into the bonus tracks. And we’ve come across this Klayton remix of a Celldweller song we haven’t heard before. First off, I find it weird that the remix appears first while the original version of the song isn’t played until the end of the album (excluding the demos which I shall also be reviewing. So, I’m reviewing the remix before the original, which I find rather uncomfortable to be honest

 

Also, Klayton is the same person as Celldweller so I’m not sure who exactly he’s trying to fool here as he does this several times on the album. The song is just a bit more electronic than it was before… later…

 

Ok, you know what, this whole nonlinear thing is really messing me up. Celldweller broke the rules by putting this song earlier I the track listing so I’m going to break the rules and head on over to the last song on the album before coming back here to review the remix. I’ll be right back.

 

Ok, I’m back. Let’s take a look at the remix of Goodbye after reviewing the original. I shan’t be long because I’ve already done the little analysis this song has to offer over there so I’ll just skip that, so you’ll have to wait for it (or read ahead since this whole thing is out of order now). But now that we’re here, we can talk about the more electronic version of Goodbye, my preferred version.

 

Sure it drones on a bit at the beginning, with only a bit of chopped up vocals and some drumbeats, but once the song gets past the first minute of that droning, Celldwelller’s scream allows the song to go up a notch with the fast-paced DnB that dominates much of this song. Complete with some bleeps and bloops here and there, a few great basslines and of course some chopped up vocals of the titular line of the song. There’s some full lyrics starting midway through the song, but they’re really a footnote in this experience of Celldweller’s strength of combining electronic basslines and guitar riffs.

 

This song has the same existential strengths as the original but ends up being one of the best bonus tracks of this album due to the incredible improvements on the instrumentation and tone. I’d talk about those existential strengths here but I’m going to talk about them later in this review (or had talked about them earlier today as I am writing this. Time travel is confusing.).

 

Celldweller – The Last Firstborn (Klayton remix) (7.75): Another occurrence of Klayton remixing a song that he’d originally produced? We’re going to see a good few of these today. Like with the remix of Goodbye, Klayton fully embraces the more electronic side of the song. From the very beginning he uses the same arp that dominated the more electronically focused parts of the song. Except without the strong drumbeat, the entire mood has been changed from its original energetic intensity to a developing sense of mystery accentuated by the use of distorted vocals.

 

About halfway through the song the guitar finally breaks through, bringing its song to its energetic glory. Everything here gets more powerful. The drums are no longer distant. The bassline has a harsher more prominent vibe. The arp has gone from subtle and mysterious to a much brighter sound filled with the energy that the original song had. Overall, this song has some great development in its mood as it transforms from its mysterious cryptic style to a briefly more energetic focus.

 

The lyrics are thankfully sparser and many of the more violent lyrics have been removed from this version of the song. We still have the description of a possible murder scene, but without the bleak and depressing context, the scene feels no bloodier than some of the edgier songs I’ve reviewed.

 

So yes, definitely a massive improvement. Though I think the original would still have been better if the lyrics were absent… Man, wouldn’t it be nice if that were possible.

 

Celldweller – Frozen (Copy Paste Repeat remix) (8): Oh wow. This is a mess, but it’s the good kind. Copy Paste Repeat completely tears apart the song and reorganizes it into a completely different chaotic mess of patterneless drumbeats, harsh basslines and vocals chopped beyond anything else on this album. There is a small portion in the middle that allows the original chorus of the song to play without any interruptions, but the chaos is always lurking in the background, ready to strike as soon as the chorus ends, taking the chaos to new levels unheard of. And while I shouldn’t expect anything clean from thsi sound, the ending of this song is so glitchy and rough that I still thought my headphones broke when I first listened to it.

 

Oh, and once again, like the last song, the vocals I like less (the overly sexual ones in this case) are eliminated from this version, leaving only the feeling of being frozen in time, and since I like time shenanigans, this one’s going to get a good solid rating from me.

 

There is no good way to review this song, but I’m perfectly content just sitting back and letting the perfect chaos that is this track fill my ears.

 

Celldweller – Switchback (Klayton remix) (7.25): And welcome back to Switchback. There may just be the one Klayton remix this time around (unless I’m forgetting something, which according to this addendum from my future self, I am) but trust me. We’re going to see a lot of Switchback in the future. Not any time soon likely, but I promise it will happen.

 

This Switchback remix starts out quite similar to that Copy Paste Repeat song from last time what with the glitching around and distortion of the vocals, but Celldweller hasn’t truly caught the Copy Paste Repeat Chaos, it’s just for the first three seconds of the song (though there are a fair amount of vocal chops), the rest is an entirely electronic version of the iconic Switchback. There’s still a good influence from the original with its bassline, but it’s been distorted into something new with much of the rest of the song focusing on adding a few new electronic elements, foregoing the rock entirely (ok maybe a guitar riff here and there, but that’s almost completely covered up in the background, I almost didn’t notice it until at least the third time around this song today).

 

However, while I do appreciate the consistent electronic enjoyment, I will admit that this song only just barely gets by with having enough variety. The drumbeat has a couple of switchups but for the most part it’s constant (which isn’t bad, but it’s teasing me with those syncopated portions). There are a few different basslines in there, but they don’t go through them and interchange them nearly fast enough. I now I’m probably being too picky, but a 7-minute song must do its best to capture the attention of the listener with such a variety to justify its length, and if it weren’t for the section where the first verse gets a spotlight, I’m not sure if I’d have found this song interesting enough to consider to be on par with the original.

 

I’m probably being too harsh, this song is still quite enjoyable (as all Switchback songs are), and I think it’s a fun spin on the original. I’m not quite certain which one I prefer as this song is more consistent but doesn’t quite measure up to the high points of the original. But both are fun tracks, and both deserve a good rating.

 

Celldweller – Atmospheric Light (Demo Redux (6.75): Hmmmm… a demo. These are often slightly lower quality than the normal tracks as they’re essentially discarded tracks that either weren’t good enough or didn’t quite fit with the albums they were produced for, and so they got relegated to this collection of bonus tracks.

 

As the title of this song establishes, the music of this song has a bit of an atmospheric feel to it, fading in at the beginning to reveal the main melody of the song and then later fading out with the same exact melody. This melody is present throughout the entirety of the song in between, only interrupted by the occasional guitar riff and drumbeat (and those drums are really just there to accentuate the guitar. This is definitely the most minimalistic song on the album, only giving music that’s absolutely necessary for the song to progress.

 

I feel that the lyrics are somewhat simple as well. The focus of this song is the same focus as many of the songs on the original album, breaking ties until one is completely alone and isolated and facing one’s regrets. Not a great feeling as I’ve explained several times in the first part of this review. This one adds in something a bit different alluding to Celldweller’s mother and his hope that she will accept him as he returns to his roots, something new for now, albeit I believe this theme becomes a bit more common in later albums.

 

Celldweller – Own Little World (Blue Stahli remix) (9.25): It’s no secret that I love Own Little World (and if you didn’t know that then you clearly didn’t read part one of this review which begs the question of why you’re here), I don’t believe I need to go into what I believe to be the most positive isolation on Celldweller’s debut album. I explained plenty of that this week. What I have to do this week is figure out how this Blue Stahli remix compares to the original.

 

Blue Stahli is an artist from the early days of Celldweller’s own label, FiXT. This band that also specializes on the electronic rock fusions, though I believe Blue Stahli falls more onto the electronic side, this time especially. It begins with a half time varied rock verse accompanying Celldweller’s chopped up vocals (more chopped than in the Switchback remix but not quite as chopped as the nearly unintelligible Copy Past Repeat remix). The bassline here is absolutely exceptional.

 

The song constantly changes from that point onwards though, getting better with each change. The first two choruses focuses on a more upbeat syncopated vibe accompanying my favorite lyrics on the album. And while the second verse is quite similar to the first, after this first formulaic half of the song, everything changes.

 

First off, we have to return to those vocal chops with some great electro bassline stabs. Which quickly transforms into a new more melodic portion as the song sounds like it’s about to come to a conclusion.

 

But Blue Stahli isn’t done yet. He aims to “Break it down” with a build-up from nothing, an element which has up to this point, been completely absent from the album. Taking a step back with an acoustic guitar and a soft drumbeat that I want to describe as crunchy, the song rises up, drops out and then immediately returns with van upbeat version of everything we’ve heard so far. It’s here that the song truly reaches for its conclusion, leaving me wanting more of this fantastic remix.

 

And so, I’ll listen to it again.

 

Celldweller – Shapeshifter (Klayton remix) (7.25): Klayton asked a question: What if Shapeshifter was even more aggressive and intense? And so, he decided to answer his own question and make Shapeshifter just that in his now commonplace Klayton remix (despite the redundancy of the idea). The rap and screaming chorus have retained the same energy as they’d had before, but all the music surrounding them have been kicked up several notches.  Much of this is thanks to his increased blending of electronic elements into this version. Much of the verses are filled with small subtleties, especially in the verses. Actually, throughout the song there’s an extra rapid bassline shoved in the background that gives an extra drive to the verses along with some good ol’ syncopation. This eventually develops into a more high-pitched synth that stands out a bit more, but it still has the exact same effect. Take what’s there and make faster. Make it more intense. Make this race from the cops along with other sweet rides the most intense race ever rapped about.

 

Really, that’s all there is to say.

 

Celldweller – Goodbye (6.25): Ok, so I’ve just come over here from the middle of reviewing the remix of this song because the whole order of things bothers me so I’m going to be doing this as nonlinearly as Celldweller. Except I’m going to make sense and review the original Goodbye first.

 

Goodbye, on the surface level, seems to have an intense focus on the rock side of Celldweller. However, upon listening to the song a few more times, I’ve begun to notice that there’s a bit more electronic elements than I’d originally accounted for. In fact, other than the guitar that starts about twenty-five seconds in (and then proceeds to make appearances throughout the rest of the song), there really isn’t much here that isn’t electronic except for maybe some of the drums, and even then, there’s some more upbeat drum patterns in there that seem more organized by a computer rather than played organically. I’m not sure why exactly I found the main bassline to sound less electronic than normal, but now that I listen to it more and more, the less it sounds like a guitar and the more it sounds like a more like it was generated on a computer (which to my tastes, is preferable anyway).

 

The song has some decent development, following the typical journey of calmness in the beginning to full throttle intensity at the end (I just reviewed Shapeshifter so the car metaphors seem to be sticking with me). This one bounces back and forth a bit more, becoming immediately more intense in the vocal portions, though even with its wavering up and down in intensity, I feel that overall, the song does still climb steadily towards the maximum potential this song has to offer.

 

As for the lyrics, Goodbye is about the never-ending passage of time and how every single moment in our life is consistently bidding us farewell as the next moment comes into our life. Other than that, there really isn’t much to say about these lyrics. There are some implications that the current moment of clarity may be the key to trying to figure out one’s purpose, which is interesting, but I’m probably self-projecting so maybe I should just leave it at that.

 

Alright, I’m heading back to the remix now.

 

Celldweller – Waiting (Unreleased Demo 2005) (6.25): And so, after saying Goodbye, you’d think we’re done with this part of the review. You’d be wrong. We still have 5 demos and a remix to finish up. Here’s another demo that I quite enjoy as far as the music goes. you likely know me well enough to determine that “as far as the music goes” means I find the lyrics questionable, but we’ll wait on those lyrics for a bit. First let’s enjoy what the music has for us.

 

The lyrics may be questionable, but the music is definitely one of the faster paced demos we’re going to go over. Really, that faster pace is half of the reason I’m enjoying this song (notice the slight bit of syncopation as well, you know I love that combination). Now, along with this quicker pace, there isn’t so much to go over as much of it is the same combinations of a bassline and a bunch of guitar riffs. At least for most of the song. Celldweller, has a tendency to relegate a good chunk of the fantastic variety to the bridge, this one including some nice strings (also in the outro), an acoustic guitar (also in the intro), and a dash of the most intense of the heavier distorted guitar (also present for pretty much the entirety of the rest of the song).

 

Alright now to the vocals and the lyrics they bring to the table. First off, before we get into any of the words sung in this song, I really want to mention the odd feeling that I don’t quite recognize the vocalist. I know there’s at least a 98.6% chance it’s Klayton (otherwise someone else would be credited), but it just sounds… different. I’m probably just slowly losing it as I have been for the past two decades or so.

 

The lyrics are a much simpler issue. Much of the song is just Celldweller reminding us that he’s still waiting. For what? Well, the rest of the lyrics suggest that it’s for another person who is taking the path of least resistance (for themselves) and letting Celldweller down in the process. Though he is simultaneously begging for more time to answer a question. So that’s just a confusing mess of who’s waiting on who. Maybe it’s a conversational song, but that isn’t made very clear.

 

Still, despite the lyrical confusion, I do find myself enjoying the song. Just not as much as I could if it had better (or no) lyrics. I’d like for there to be an instrumental version of this, but I’m afraid I can’t do the joke that I’ve done with The Last Firstborn and Frozen. There is no instrumental version of this.

 

Celldweller – 06-06-06 (Unreleased Demo 2006) (5): Ah yes, the day everyone panicked because the devil and tons of people from every artform aimed to release creepy demonic edgy stuff on that day because of the mark of the beast. Or you could put Elvis lyrics in there?

 

Ok, to the song’s credit there are still some non-Elvis stuff in there. There’s also a few violent lyrics about how Celldweller is going to beat you to a fleshy pulp. So, I’m not sure how that all fits with the theme of Satan. At least I can put lyrical analysis off the table for this one. How’s the music?

 

It’s alright, but I never really felt there was much notable for most of the song, especially in the choruses. At least there was a little bit of variety in the verses with the bassline, but the rest of the song doesn’t really matter all that much to me.

 

I’m thinking this song is truly average.

 

Celldweller – Waiting for so Long (Unreleased Demo 2006) (5.75): Interestingly despite the fact that he’s waiting for so long, this song is a third of the length of Waiting. In fact, if it weren’t for the Cell songs, this would be the shortest song on the album. And a simple one at that. One drumbeat. One bassline. One melody. One line of lyrics (ok two actually but still). This song is so simplistic I have absolutely nothing to say. Thankfully it’s short so the repetition isn’t too bothersome.

 

The song is a bit above average, but it doesn’t bring much to the table.

 

 

Celldweller – Blood from the Stone (Unreleased Demo 2005) (4.25): This song is about a doomed relationship. Yay. Celldweller reveals to his soon to be ex that they aren’t compatible and they never will be because Celldweller is doomed to an empty life with no relationship to speak of. Well, geez stop whining about such a bleak outlook. Not to mention you went into this relationship with pessimistic expectations (Which could be the self-fulfilling prophecy that causes your problems). You’ve clearly got some personal issues you need to work out before you embark on a relationship, because it will never work if you go about it that way.

 

Ok, enough on that. The music outside of the lyrics is actually good. Starting out with a beautiful combination of piano and acoustic guitar is a lovely beginning. It eventually builds up into a heavily rock focused chorus with some decent melodies. Nothing stellar but decent. It does have a good progression to it and the dynamic between the piano and the harsher guitars (especially noticeable in the second verse) is definitely my favorite part of the song. Overall the music in this one is pretty good.

 

But then again, there’s the lyrics which make him such a whiny brat that I have to give this song a lower rating than the nonexistant instrumental of it deserves.

 

Celldweller – IRIA (Unreleased Demo 2005) (7.75): Out of all the demos, this song sounds the most like the Celldweller I know. Some heavy rock to match some nice electronic influences. This actually feels like a Celldweller song, though it is admittedly quite close to instrumental. It has an occasional shout that makes me think he hasn’t quite figured out where this song is going (I could swear he’s saying “Words”) And then there’s the line “I remember it all” (or IRIA if you’d like to use an acronym), which serves no meaning without any context. But that’s fine. That just means the instrumentation has to hold up the track.

 

And boy does everything this song is make up for the lack of lyrics. This song truly fuses the electronic wonder at the beginning of the song with some great guitar riffs and solos, not to mention that lovely bassline that serves as the main electronic focus. The way it distorts as it moves between notes in the track is quite enjoyable. My favorite part of the song has to be the vocal portion. While not meaningful those vocals definitely add some extra energy when they’re present, or maybe it’s just because the guitar solos are giving their best work to back those vocals up. Either way, this demo definitely stands above the rest.

 

Celldweller – Switchback (No I’m Not remix) (8): Another Switchback remix? In my review? It’s more likely than I think. But this isn’t your ordinary Switchback remix. No, this remix is gloriously orchestral, accompanied by a choir of strings that progressively gets more intense as Celldweller sings on about how he can’t change the past moments he regrets. There are a few additional lyrics added into this version. Actually, if I remember correctly, those lyrics were originally subtracted from a previous version of Switchback that was made before Klayton polished the track and released his Celldweller debut. Well, they don’t really change the theme of the song or give any new revelations, so I guess it’s just a slight divergence from the norm (as if going orchestral didn’t diverge enough).

 

There really isn’t much particular to say about the music, as orchestral tracks are often good but really need to do something exceptional to stand out and make themselves worth talking about. I will admit that there’s a bit more of an emotional impact for these lyrics with the orchestral context, but that’s still not out of the ordinary. This song is simply a beautiful conclusion to today’s review.

 

Conclusion: The bonus tracks of this debut album are a mixed bunch, ranging from a few decent originals, a healthy number of great remixes. And some average demos. Is it a worthwhile addition? I’m going to have to go with a yes. There are very few bad songs here and there, but there also plenty of worthwhile additions, including a better version of my favorite song from the first third.

 

One more Celldweller review left before I give Klayton an extensive break.

 

We’ll see what words I have to say when Celldweller has none.

 

Final Score for Bonus Tracks: (6.75/10)

Final Score for Album so Far: (6.75/10)

 

122.75/18

 

118.5