Mind.in.a.box – Crossroads (2007 album)

Album links

Bandcamp: https://mind-in-a-box.bandcamp.com/album/crossroads

Soundcloud: n/a

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/4ttiMmV56iQRKSuCOhSiPl?si=ADufv63kRtKTFT8hJhQ_mQ

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLv8kgGG6wGqRAE8yajRvCTEaWfkYIuL04




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




Last time on Mind.in.a.box: White has tasked an agent with a mission to track down a hacker, but unfortunately, his target has escaped into an alternate reality, the Dreamweb. Thankfully, White had found a lead that the two of them can use to try and figure out how to enter the Dreamweb and apprehend the hacker that has been eluding them for several months now. The lead? A woman who’d spoken to the hacker the night of the disappearance. The agent finds her at a club, but something strange occurs. The music within the club invades him mind, giving him visions of another world. His dreams have been infected by an unknown source. The gap in his memories remains unfilled and the agent begins to suspect that his mind may have been wiped at some point in time. The agent prepares to take the next step in his journey, but the question is which step will he take?


He finds himself at a Crossroads…


Mind.in.a.box – Introspection (7.75): This introduction isn’t a recap. It’s an information overload. The entire perspective of the agent’s world has been turned on its head. He awakes under the care of two people, a man and a woman, The Friend and Night (Just guess who these two are. I dare you). He is greeted with a smile as he floats in an enclosed pool of water. A weightless environment in which the Sleepwalkers attempt to save his identity from his employer’s mindwipe. White isn’t who he seems.


No one is as they seem.


Honestly, all of the introductory songs to the Mind.in.a.box albums are great, but this one is one of the most enjoyable to listen to. I can’t fully decide which is better, this or Tape Evidence. Tape Evidence did a better job at being immersive by using foley along with the agent’s narrative. The music in this song however, is an immediate step up from much of the music in the last album. A perfect balance between the energetic basslines overlaid over high-paced syncopated drumbeats and the melodies that match the mysteries that are to come.


As of right now, I prefer this over Tape Evidence as I enjoy the music a lot more this time around and I feel like there’s a great overload of new information introduced here. And while this does answer the question of how the agent’s memories had begun to fade from his mind, several more questions take its place. Who are the Sleepwalkers? Who exactly are Night and the Friend? How did they get a hold of the agent and where is this empty flat they’ve taken him to? More importantly, where was Black when he’s woken up underwater? And what happened when the glass shattered?


The world is changing. And it will never be the same again.


Mind.in.a.box – Amnesia (8.25): I mentioned this in a previous Daily Hat Track, but Amnesia is quite a special song to me in the Mind.in.a.box discography. Any firsts are incredibly valuable in my opinion. And as my first song from my current favorite artist at the moment, this one definitely has a nostalgic bias.


As far as the music goes, this song doesn’t do any thing particularly special. It plays a little bit with the whole technological Mind.in.a.box vibe but most of the song is just the same bassline and four on four drumbeat. There’s a bit of variation with some subtle melodies here and there, but as far as the verses go, that’s about all the song has.


The chorus on the other hand, while a bit more minimalistic at first, does stand out a bit from the rest of the song. In its first iteration, it begins with a solo bassline and slowly adds new elements over time, a more complex drumbeat and a building melody that ebbs in and out as the chorus continues, transforming in tone so it flows connectedly into the original vibe from the verses. In the second iteration, it starts off with an arp instead of the bassline and the drumbeat disappears for the second half of the chorus as the song winds down towards its conclusion.


However, while lesser musically than surrounding songs, Amnesia still showcases the agent’s struggles well. As I’ve been mentioning for weeks now, the agent has been having a little bit of trouble recalling his memories. This has become especially important seeing as we’ve recently discovered the source of his amnesia, White’s mindwipe. This song does share some thematic tones with lament for Lost Dreams from the last album as the agent looks upon himself, knowing that his past has been broken and that he will never be the same again because of it. But he doesn’t lament for long. He instead looks ahead to tackle the future instead of dwelling in the past. In fact, this song does even less lamenting on the past. The agent has become more accepting of the fact that his past has gone. In fact, he seems intent on leaving it behind, making peace in the present so he can look to the future.


Mind.in.a.box – Into the Night (8.25): Ready for another information dump? Because our agent has stumbled his way back into the club he’d visited back in Dead End from the previous album. And boy does he have a lot of questions (he is having troubles remembering after all. We did just have a whole song about that). Unfortunately, as usual, we only get the agent’s side of the conversation. So really, this is just reiterating questions we’ve already had. On occasion, the agent gives a vague reaction to the questions, which allows some of information the agent has collected to slip through the cracks. But in usual Mind.in.a.box fashion, we just have more questions. Oh sure, they’ll all be answered eventually, but there’s always another secret to taunt us with.


But before I dive in too deeply into Mind.in.a.box lore, let’s talk a brief bit about the music. Into the Night bounces back between two vibes, one for the experience the agent has scoring for information about his recent experience, trying to find a path to take in the future as his direction has been lost since his severance with White. The other playing as the agent repeats his mantra depicting his emotional emptiness. For the former, the music actually takes a backseat, allowing the conversations to be displayed with very little distraction as the music drives forward subtly in the background. But for the latter, there’s plenty more Mind.in.a.box arps taking over the song. Some simple melodies, projecting a mysterious vibe as the mantra repeats.


There was nothing left to feel as the agent fell into the night. Cut off from his past, he felt cold and empty uncertain of where to begin with his new life. He’d originally resigned to the pain he was used to under White’s careful watch but now that he had been freed by the Sleepwalkers (Who are they?), he’s been healed, reborn into a new person, but a person unsure of where to go in his life.


So, he searches for answers. He revisits the club where he’d nearly caught Night before being overcome with visions of the Dreamweb, the reality invented by The Friend. The agent still isn’t quite sure what happened that night. He peers around the club searching for answers. He recognizes a man he’d seen before, though he’s unsure of the identity. He vaguely recalls a place known as the Pi, but he remembers nothing of it. He tries to figure out what band was playing that night when he’d nearly lost his mind, but he can’t recognize any of them. He is, however, introduced to the Sleepwalkers (previously mentioned on Introspection). He wonders who (or perhaps what) they are.


But the most mysterious blank in the agent’s mind is his name. He doesn’t know his name. And so he creates a new one. A new identity for his reborn self. To oppose his previous employer, the agent becomes his opposite.




His name is Black.


Mind.in.a.box – Identity (9.25): Identity is an enigma sometimes. Perhaps I’m just prone to overthink everything, but I find it nearly impossible to truly lock on to solid identity that defines who I am. Can I truly be defined by a simple list of characteristics? Is there really a core to myself that I can latch onto? That I can rely one and look to as a constant in my life? Am I being all too existential for my own good? Probably yes to that last one. But Black seems to have the same problem, the same desire to define himself. Admittedly, his loss of identity is a bit worse, as he can’t even remember his true name. I at least know that much.


Following the last two songs, Identity definitely has a more energetic powerful feel to it. Introspection comes close with its intense introduction throwing us directly into the story with Black’s interaction with Night and The Friend, but Identity has many more melodies and a bit more variation. Part of this is thanks to the vocals which span across several different moods. The calmer introspective verses, the more emotionally intense chorus (the last fourth reaching a higher octave in Black’s desire for identity), the monotone mantra following the chorus (I want to know who I am. The rest of the music is stellar too, great drum patterns and arps easing in and out with a nice variety of melodies (bassy or otherwise. Some good moments of ambience too, which can surprisingly be heard even with all the energy of the rest of the song that could distract from the calmer strings. But even the ambience Is prominent. Every single element of this song provides a great mixture of sounds to fill the ears, but the vocals are definitely the emotional heart of the song as they easily steal the spotlight from everything else.


But what good are vocals without fantastic lyrics to go along with them? Thankfully, this song has just that. Like I’d expressed at the beginning of this portion on Identity, this song focuses a lot on Black’s desire to find his identity. To figure out who he is and where he belongs in this world. His life had been empty and monotone before as he submitted to his fate as an agent of White’s. But now that he’s free, now that he can sever his ties, he spends this song striving to make something of himself. To figure out a new purpose for his new life. He will define his life as his own.


Mind.in.a.box – Lucid Dreams 1 (7.25): Why was I so afraid? Night was not afraid.


As a twenty second intermission, I’m not going to have much to say on this song. It’s twenty seconds of ambience and two sentences. Such short intermissions are a rarity in the Mind.in.a.box discography. There’s only two such short intermissions in this album (the second aptly named Lucid Dreams 2) as well as a couple on Broken Legacies. Each one has to do with Black’s fear as he faces the road ahead. He must overcome it if he’s to join Night and The Friend on the journey through the Dreamweb. On his journey to find his purpose. But for now, his fear still has a hold on him. Let’s talk about that fear, shall we?


Mind.in.a.box – Fear (8.25): Fittingly, the song called Fear begins in a rather creepy manner, with an ominous bassy ambience setting the mood so that the eerie melody and some rough distorted vocals can ease their way into the song. The verses in the song is where this slightly ominous underlying feel is most present. The tone of the vocals contributes the most to this feeling of dread. In the verses, the computerized vocals take on the lowest octave within its comfortable range (not that such distorted vocals couldn’t go any lower, but it wouldn’t be that intelligible if you continued down the path towards contrabass. Thankfully, the chorus takes the vocals an octave or so higher instead. And since an uplifting arp is also more prominent in these choruses, the emotions portrayed are a bit calmer, a bit less unsettling. This works quite well, as the entire purpose of the song is not about succumbing to fear but about how Black must overcome his fear.


Fear is an interesting emotion. Even though, I normally wouldn’t describe myself as a fearful person, it truly is fear that drives me in some ways. Mostly my fear of the expansive universe that will swallow up my mortal identity, but that really only bothers me on bad days. But even on the good days, that fear is still there, crouching in the corner of my soul, simultaneously fueling my productivity while also waiting for a chance to latch on to me, paralyzing me whenever I reach the lower points in my life. A huge theme of Mind.in.a.box is dealing with the darker more existential parts of the mind and finding a balance between confronting them without being overtaken by them. And what makes this one work so well is how it accepts that fear is sometimes a fact of life, while simultaneously sending out a message of overcoming it. Everyone’s afraid, but that’s no excuse.


Like displayed in that last intermission, fear has been haunting Black for a long while now. Across, all of the albums so far, Black has tormented himself trying to pick apart at the mysteries of his mind. And the more he discovers, the less he truly knows. The questions that had begun arising from the very beginning are increasingly prominent in his life as he transitions away from White’s control and has to face a band new future in which everything has changed. A change which he fears.


Mind.in.a.box – Stalkers (8.25): Stalkers is a song depicting a new group of within the Mind.in.a.box universe, the Sleepwalkers. They repeat a mantra in unison as they serve some unknown controller (I have my theories) and all the while, a solitary voice tries to escape their chase. The music accompanying this struggle is quite fitting to the themes of these Stalkers. Much of the song has a more monotone feel to it, with repetitive arps with small bits of variation driving the song forward. It isn’t until the last act of the song, that there are significant changes with a melody that breaks from the constant and slight change in tone of the arps that we begin to break away from the uniformity of the Stalkers. But who are these Stalkers I’ve been speaking of?


My initial impression was that this song was about the Sleepwalkers, but just because the name starts with an “S” and ends in an “Alkers” doesn’t necessarily mean the two groups are related. Quite the opposite actually. Looking at the details we can glean about this new group from the lyrics, the Stalkers are a group of people who have a collective mind. A solitary consciousness. And seeing as Night and the Friend, the suspected Sleepwalkers, have saved Black’s mind, it doesn’t quite add up to the mental slavery depicted in this song. Black, now freed from White’s mindwipe, has the chance to live a new life of his own, not one in which he’d become slave to the other side. No, the stalkers are not with the people who were running from Black as he and White chased them in search of the Dreamweb.


Or perhaps they weren’t just chasing the Sleepwalkers


Perhaps they were stalking them.


I could be wrong about the true identity of the controller of the Stalkers, but I think one thing that’s notable about this theory is the outro of the song. A solitary voice, Black’s voice, calls out repeating the Stalker mantra. It’s possible that this song serves as a Flashback to how Black begun serving White, but things have definitely changed since then. He’s no longer a component of the machine of White’s creation and now he can see the strings that has held him previously. Black is still in danger of the mindwipe. He must fight the machine in order to truly free himself, but his journey to freedom has only just begun.


Mind.in.a.box – What Used To Be (8.5): At first glance, What Used to Be seems to take on the exact same themes as Lament for Lost Dreams and Amnesia, but there’s a significant difference between those previous tracks and the track what we’re looking at today. The first two are about Black’s struggle to let go of the memories that have faded from his mind. This one however, focus on the memories he does remember. The memories he has of serving under White (perhaps as a Stalker). Letting go of the holes in one’s mind is one thing. Letting go of memories that continue to haunt one’s self is another story altogether.


I’ve chosen the longer version to review for this review. While searching for a Youtube playlist, I noticed that a lot of the less official ones use a Short Storm remix that’s only 4 minutes long rather than the full 7. This is a completely different version of the song though. I wouldn’t even consider to to be an oddly named radio edit as the whole vibe of the song is transformed into something a bit less interesting. I prefer the seven-minute version anyways. Longer is nearly always better in my book. Especially when the longer version includes a greater variety of the technological arps and basslines I know from Mind.in.a.box. I’m not sure if there’s anything that especially stands out in this song. It really meshes quite well with the rest of the album though so I’m glad this is the version included rather than the Short Storm version (It may sound like I hate Short Storm but it’s honestly not all that bad. It just doesn’t really sound like the technological perfection I’m used to from Mind.in.a.box)


Black must move on from what used to be. From the life he had while still employed by White. Now free from White’s control, Black reconsiders the Crossroads he’d faced in the past. The Crossroads he’d mindlessly followed White down. He looks at the paths he’s taken and regrets where he’s ended up. But like in Amnesia and Lament for Lost Dreams, Black must look towards the present and the future, while he can learn to the past, obsessively dwelling over his mistakes (as I am admittedly all too guilty of) will do him no good.


The Crossroads ahead are what matters.


Mind.in.a.box – The Place (7.25): The Place is definitely the most relaxing song on the album. I’m not certain if it tops that particular list for the entire discography. I believe the next canonical album, Revelations, has a fair amount of songs that fit a calmer mood as well. But as far as the first half of the Mind.in.a.box discography goes (Yes, we’re halfway through already. Though I might get distracted by a certain side project in a bit so I’m not certain when we’ll get to the next chapter) this one is the most relaxing.


The beauty begins immediately with the piano melody which serves as the bookends for this particular song. It’s quite a refreshing diversion from the typically hyper-technological vibe that the rest of the album has. While I personally prefer the more upbeat songs, the beautiful piano does intrigue me and it builds quite well to the main vocal section of the song as it distorts back into a more technological sound while accompanied by some synthesized strings. Overall, it makes for a powerful introduction to this slower more reflective song.


However, when the song returns to the more technological instruments, the beauty of the song unfortunately gets covered up a little bit. It’s still there and there’s a lot of instruments that work well with it, but then there’s that bassy lead. It shouldn’t be there. It’s distracting. Its melody seems almost completely random. It just doesn’t fit with this song. Ignoring that, this one of the less gritty songs on the album. Even the vocals are a bit cleaner than usual. They only have some slight touches of distortion that were unnoticeable on my first several listens).


As is the theme with this album, Black is still coming to peace with the memories he has lost. He does seem to have some familiarity with a certain undescribed place (Obviously we want to know where such a place is, but such information is currently still withheld from us). As he searches for peace in the little he has left in this world, he does his best to reflect over the things he has lost from the mind-wipe. He doesn’t mull over it for long though. He’s at a turning point in his life. He could linger on this undefined past of his or he could look forward to the equally undefined future. A future that will allow him to transform himself into a new person entirely different from the one who’d served White.


He shall redefine himself.


Mind.in.a.box – Redefined (10): Redefined is a masterpiece. I consider it to be the ultimate defining moment in the entire Mind.in.a.box discography. There are so many intricacies within this song that make it rise above the rest of the discography and above nearly every song I’ve ever heard. It is the best Mind.in.a.box song musically. It is the best Mind.in.a.box song lyrically. It is the best Mind.in.a.box song narratively. It is the best Mind.in.a.box song of all time.


Let’s start with the music. Every single moment in this song is fantastic musically. About a month ago, I’d mentioned all of the different musical aspects in Walking that I found to be fantastic. I had to use a bulletpoint list in order to cover all of the intricacies that made the song work. I think I’m going to have to do that again here…

  • Immediately following The Place (slowest song on the album) with this masterpiece (most energetic song on the album) only makes Redefined seem even more energetic and more powerful.
  • All of the main elements of this song are introduced and developed so seamlessly throughout the introduction of the song. The arp, drums, strings, ambiance, and bassline are all introduced in the first fifteen seconds of the song and it never feels like any of them are struggling for attention over the others. They smoothly ebb in and out with each other and build on each other throughout the first verse.
  • Speaking of the first verse, the song still continues to introduce subtle elements, a couple of small melodies and a second bassline. Not to mention the drumbeat that grows ever more intensive.
  • During the chorus, the song switches to half-time allowing for a more reflective feel (which matches the chorus’ lyrical content to a tee). The variety works great, giving a quick breather in the middle of the high energy verses and prechorus.
  • Even more striking is when the high tempo returns from the chorus. It’s especially noticeable after the first chorus as the snare in this portion has a great punch to it driving that energetic feel home.
  • There’s a couple of additional melodies introduced in the second verse of the song. The changes are subtle, but it still adds a new bit of variety. I find it fascinating how many small melodies there are in this song that could easily go unnoticed the first few listens.
  • The structure of this song is actually quite familiar, but I’ll get into that when I go over the narrative excellence.


When it comes to the lyrics, I’d say Redefined is the most inspiring song in the entire discography. Crossroads may narratively focus a lot on Black trying to move forward in his life despite his fractured memories, but it’s also about change and transformation. At several points in my life, I’ve found myself feeling lost. I’m unsure of where my past has led me. I’m unsure how to define myself in the present. I’m unsure of what paths I should take in the future to try and find a new self that I can be proud of. I’m always telling myself that I’m “at a turning point in my life,” but in reality, the person I am is constantly changing, constantly transforming, constantly redefining.


I’m rambling. I could talk forever about the existential paths I wander. My main point here is that any moment can be a time of change and transformation. Redefine yourself from who you used to be to the person you desire to be. That’s what Black is doing in this song.


Narratively, this song is a major turning point in Black’s journey. After mulling over his memories for the entirety of this album, he takes steps forward to free himself. But the fact that this song is a major turning point isn’t what fully interest me this time around. In order to truly see the genius of this song, we have to take a step back and look at the last album, specifically the song Machine Run. These two songs are intensely connected. For every lyric Machine Run has exploring Black’s anguish trapped within the cycle of working as a Stalker, Redefined tears it apart, redefining Black’s life now that he’s free.


No longer will he feed the machine that represents White’s hold on Black’s life or be on the constant run trying to find the Dreamweb. For now, he shall stand his ground and fight the machine that had once held him captive. No longer will he suffocate his dreams until his identity completely fades away. For now, he shall embrace the identity he has lost and instead let the machine fade away from his life.


No longer shall the endless cycles of routine overwhelm Black For now, he has found a brand-new beginning to start his life anew. No longer shall he feel that his life is going nowhere, that everything he does leads him back to where he started. For now, he shall look into the future and define himself by what he will become rather than what he’s been.


He is redefined.


Mind.in.a.box – Lucid Dreams 2 (7.5): There it was up ahead. And I was not afraid any more.


Another short ambient exploration into Black’s mind. What makes this interesting is how it shows Black’s development over the course of this album. 6 songs ago he found himself overcome with fear. He no longer questions his fear. For now, he is no longer afraid.


The Crossroads are up ahead…


Mind.in.a.box – Crossroads (8.25): Well, the crossroads aren’t up ahead any more. We have finally arrived. Now independent of White’s control, Black is free to make his own choices. The choices were always there, but until now, Black has been blind. He’s mindlessly pushed his way forward on the only path he’d seen before him, the path of a Stalker. But now that the Sleepwalkers have saved his mind, a whole new world has opened in front of him. He is now free to truly live rather than just survive. His mind is his own


Really tricky to review this one since I’m still fresh off of Redefined (Lucid Dreams 2 is more of a story element that a song). The lyrics are a bit more simplistic. They do represent the theme of the album well (I’d hope so. This is the titular track after all), allowing Black to face the choices in his life. To take on the new life he’s been granted by the Sleepwalkers. But there really isn’t that much left to go into as we’ve been talking about these Crossroads so much as they approached. This album represents a turning point. If Black is now free to choose, what path will he take?


The music in this one is pretty run of the mill for Mind.in.a.box. That’s not a bad thing as Mind.in.a.box is my favorite artist for a reason. But it does mean I don’t have much in particular to point out other than go through the Mind.in.a.box checklist. Good technological vibe with some layered arps? Check. Solid drumbeat and bassline driving through the song? Check. The occasional subtle melody giving a tiny bit of flavor to the song? Check (though it took some time for me to pick them out so maybe that’s part of the reason I find this song to be less remarkable). Distorted vocals that delve into the existential mysteries of the Mind.in.a.box universe? Check. It’s a Mind.in.a.box song and I don’t easily dislike a Mind.in.a.box song (Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever disliked a Mind.in.a.box song).


I think there may be a subtle reference to Machine Run with the guitar riff that appears in the background after the “How long since I cared” line, but compared to the parallels that song has with Redefined, this detail is pretty unremarkable. For all I know Poiss could just really like that bassline and has a tendency to implement it into many songs. Still, Poiss doesn’t seem like the kind of guy to do that sort of thing on accident. The questions Black asks himself here could be him questioning how much of himself he truly drained in order to feed the machine in the past. Perhaps there are several other similar references like this throughout the other songs and I’m only noticing the Machine Run riff because that’s so memorable.



Mind.in.a.box – Run for Your Life (7.5): And here we are at the album closer. There’s a bit of a cinematic vibe compared to the rest of the album. That ominous cinematic intro is likely the best part of the song as it sets a good tone. It eventually reaches a slightly more peaceful feeling at the end with a subtle choir, but almost immediately after, a glitch infested driving drumbeat takes over the song, leaving only short notes of the stringed variety as the only remnant of the orchestral origins this track had. From there on out, it doesn’t really have too much variety. But the darker tone does leave some suspense as the third chapter concludes and the fourth chapter resides somewhere in the future (though you could listen to the next chapter right now if you wanted. This album is a decade old).


The past two albums have closed with some good reflections on Black’s mind as he prepares for the next chapter of the story. This one is quite minimalistic as far as lyrics go though. All we know is that despite Black saying he no longer needs to run as of Redefined. Something is still chasing him. White hasn’t given up on Black yet. He beckons him to return. The struggle continues. Black may be on the path to peace, but he’s not there yet. He must continue forward into his future as he rediscovers himself and the reality that’s been hidden from him.


Conclusion: Crossroads was my first Mind.in.a.box album. Yeah, I started in the middle on chapter three so sue me. But even before I knew that there was deeply intricate cyberpunk story lurking in the shadows, I couldn’t help but enjoy this album. Redefined is definitely a big favorite of mine, getting a rare 10/10. And many of the other songs reach into that higher range as well. I think what I like most about this album is that it’s all about embracing change and reaching for a new beginning. A value that I’m constantly trying to implement into my own life. I feel like of the many Mind.in.a.box albums that have come to be so far, I connect to this one the most. And so, it rises above the rest.



Final Score: (8.25/10)

Infected Mushroom – B.P. Empire (2001 album)

Bandcamp: n/a

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/infectedmushroom/sets/b-p-empire

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/3QayeW548wxn5HQdlnzz9q?si=sEM_ZYdhQXKbIB1FJ1lsqw

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_lTJgIwQYMylCjNX_3_MpzYHmUnWTr2wjY


Introduction: Infected Mushroom. You’ve heard the name on this site before already, so I don’t need to give too much of an introduction. It seems they may be taking a jab of some sort at BP. I’m not sure what they’re expressed goal is. The album art doesn’t really answer any questions.


Anyways, regardless of Infected Mushroom’s intentions, this album begins as somewhat of a transition to what’s to come of the duo. It isn’t until the next album that everything truly changes, but there are some notable differences between this album and the last two. Let’s explore them, shall we?


Infected Mushroom – Never Ever Land (7.25): Infect me. There always to be some line in the opening song of these first few albums that make for a perfect introduction to an Infected Mushroom album. This one is somewhat of a combination of the last two interesting enough. Taking the “me” from “Release me” and “infect” from “Aliens infected us. It’s about time we infected them.” Am I stretching? Probably. Actually definitely. But I found it fun to talk about regardless. It’s still got Infect in there. You can’t deny that. There’s also the chanting of title of the song in final couple minutes of its existence, but I have less to say about that.


Vocal samples aside, this song definitely seems to be aiming for an unsettling vibe as many of the early tracks in the Infected Mushroom discography do. This time around, the song seems to have a smoother pace to it. There’s a lot more emphasis on ambiance than usual for much of the song. I’m particularly referencing the ever-present strings and the lead synth of the song with short melodies that simply provide a subtle unsettling texture to the song. The vibe of this ambiance seems to borrow a little bit from Disco Mushroom, which isn’t a bad thing, but it does feel like it’s not as good.


One other notable thing to mention that I’m having troubles fitting into the other paragraphs is how much I enjoy that guitar. I guess it gets a paragraph of its own then. I like the guitar. It’s got a nice groove to it. Ok, I guess that’s all I have to say about that.


Infected Mushroom – Unbalanced (7.25): Infected Mushroom shows a lot of growth in this album by not relying solely on the psytrance basslines and instead working on creating their own environment of sound unique to themselves. Yes, they’ve always been creative, but this song only has a few short sections with the psytrance bassline and it’s quite subtle. The rest of the song has Infected Mushroom feeling out the sound design as it breaks away from the mold with its own basslines. It’s here that the duo really begins to establish who they are.


Well, they start to find out who they are. As they’re really just exploring out into the unknown at this point, there is a mixture of what I enjoy and would rather go without. Pretty much anything that involves a bassline is good (I don’t think Infected Mushroom has ever been weak in the bassline department though so this is no surprise), be it the funky bassline in the introduction, or the rare use of psytrance bass (though the latter is subtle and has a good chord progression, so it helps the track stand out quite well from the rest their discography thus far).


There’s also some neat Foley in there with a creaky door, whining as it closes near the beginning of the song and a spinning coin settling itself on the top of a metal table as it begins to lose its balance. Or fi you want to make some kind of pun or play on words, you could say that the coin becomes unbalanced. The drum design is rather cool too in places. It’s always four on the floor as most trance songs are, but the snares when they appear sound almost rather industrial. There’s also some points where the drum completely disappears


And lastly, we have the lead synths. These are the parts I’m a bit more mixed on. There’s plenty of variety offered in this department, which means I have to deal with the fantastic (the bell melody and guitar solo is my favorite part of the song, but there’s a few synths here and there that are a bit too scratchy for my tastes). Some of the subtler instruments like the organs or ghostly ambiance also fit into the song quite well.


Infected Mushroom – Spaniard (5.75): I was beginning wonder if this album was going to be consistently 7.25s, but there appears to be a slight dip in quality right here. The Spaniard, does very little to stand out on its own. It still relishes in the slightly unsettling vibe that’s already been established in this album, but it’s not really doing anything new with it. Yes, there’s plenty of haunted synths providing the ambiance for this track and I do appreciate those, but the only noteworthy melody I can find is the one that appears a bit over 5 minutes into the song. Everything else other than the outro (with the creepy ambiance/decent bassline combo and the short vocal section of little substance) isn’t unique to the rest of the first age of Infected Mushroom. And even then, I don’t find the outro to be exceptional.


Infected Mushroom – B.P. Empire (6): It’s a good viewpoint to see the world as a dream. When you have something like a nightmare, you will wake up and tell yourself it was only a dream. This quote is apparently from some movie about samurais that I guess Duvdev and Erez enjoy. It claims to have a good viewpoint on looking at the world as a dream. Honestly, I’m not certain if it truly is a good viewpoint. Really just feels like an excuse to cut off your emotional attachment to the world around you. And while that may work well for nightmares, I can’t really get behind this way of living. Too emotionless, too detached, too apathetic to the issues that we face in our lives. If we just see it as a dream, we’ll never face them at all.


Anyways, this titular track goes as minimalistic as it can for Infected Mushroom. Start with a creepy quote, add in a drumbeat and then put a nice Infected bassline in there. For the most part, that’s all this song does. The bassline admittedly does transform throughout the song so there’s a bit of variety, but there’s nothing to be said about melody. It’s all about bassline this time around.


Unfortunately, the bassline variety does have some issues. While I will say that all of the basslines are good, that does actually prove to be a problem. When none of the basslines are bad, very few of them stand out either and even the variety becomes somewhat monotonous. With no other elements to change along with the bassline to complement its strengths, each iteration seems to overstay it’s welcome. I find myself surprised to say this, but even with variety, most of this song is tedious and monotonous.


There’s only one bassline that stuck out to me around 5 and a half minutes into the song. Something about it has a slightly stronger groove than the rest. But there’s seven other minutes of lesser content surrounding it. For some reason, they decided this bassline wouldn’t last nearly as long as some of the others, before being overtaken. If it were any bassline, I wouldn’t complain, but when it’s the best bassline in the song that gets snubbed, I can’t help but feel that the song could’ve been a bit better had it been given the chance to shine.


Infected Mushroom – Funchameleon (8): at first, from the title, I thought it was depicting a chameleon that was fun, but after listening to the song, it’s quite clear that this is a chameleon that’s funky. Just listen to those basslines. B.P. Empire had at least tenfold the variety of basslines in it’s 7 minutes and yet not a single one of them measures up to the funky groove of the chameleon. My favorite bassline by far is the one introduced at the 2.5-minute mark of the song. Definitely one of the funkiest sections of what I’d consider to be the first era of Infected Mushroom (The Gathering thru Converting Vegetarians).  I’d have to brush up on the next album to be certain, but we’ll get to that one soon enough anyway.


Now, this one funky bassline doesn’t detract from all the other basslines in this song. Nor does it detract from any other elements this song has to offer. It certainly is the standout part, but I don’t find myself missing it when all of the other basslines and melodies are at work as those bits are interesting enough to occupy my interest in the meantime. Even before that perfect funk is introduced, we have a smooth growl (if that makes any sense). And after the funky beats temporarily cease, we have plenty of arps and melodies that have their own strong points, in particular the melody that almost sounds like a slow arp at the 5-minute mark. There’s even a second strong bassline at that point in the song that nearly gives the Funchameleons’s main funk a run for its money. It’s not really a contest, but it’s remarkable that anything can come close.


Infected Mushroom – Tasty Mushroom (7.5): Do you want to have a tasty mushroom? That is the beckoning of the deep voice that offers a delicious snack midway through the song. And I’m not sure how to answer the question. If by Tasty Mushroom, the dude means he wants to know if I want to listen to this, then I’ll do it, it’s a good song. If he means he wants to offer me some mushrooms to make a soup or put on a pizza, I’m into that. If he’s asking me if I want to have a power-up from some Mario game, I might question whether or not he means in-game or if he somehow made the shape-shifting fungus a reality. If the former, then I guess I’ll take it. If the latter, I may want to know how much it’s been tested before I actually partake in eating it as long as it’s not purple. If he’s offering drugged shrooms (or infected mushrooms I guess), then I may have to decline. I’m not really into drugs. Music is my high. Then again, I seem to be perfectly fine with consuming scientifically tested Mario power-ups so maybe I’ll need to reconsider some of my hypothetical life choices.


Like I said, this is a good song. It perhaps is in the middle ground of this album, but this album’s middle ground is good, so it’s not really an issue. My only problem is that the funky vibe at the slight funky party vibe at the beginning feels a bit out of place as very little of the rest of the album incorporates that vibe. The trumpets return for a short reprise midway through the song, but if the bassline returns with it, it simply fades into the background as the stronger psytrance basslines overwhelm it. Still, it is a nice throwback. It would be neat if the song involved it more.


The other part of the song that stands out to me is the ambiance used at a few different points in the song. For the first, half any use of ambiance is subtle, but while the Tasty Mushroom is offered, everything fades away except for a distant choir (actually this reminds me of Disco Mushroom in a lot of ways, funny they have such similar names. Disco did it better though).  There’s also a bit more of that tasty ambiance at the end as the song fades away.


Infected Mushroom – Noise Maker (6.75): Go play your music. Play it so loud that nobody can sleep. Noisemaker. Heh, that’s exactly what I’m doing right now. Blasting Infected Mushroom in my room so loud that no one can sleep. Except it’s noon. And no one is home. But no one is sleeping either so it’s totally relevant.


Listening to the beginning of this song, I would normally expect a song called Noise Maker to be… well… noisier. It’s rather calm for a song about blasting music, but then again, this is one of Infected Mushroom’s calmer albums. Though if you really think about it, all music makes noise regardless of the volume. It’s just that even when full blasting this tune, the song remains to be somehow soothing and relaxing. The culprit of this relaxation is definitely the pads introduced at the very beginning of the song. They sweep away my soul into a state of soothing. At least that’s how it goes for the intro of the song.


As the song progresses past that vocal sample midway through the song, there are some louder basslines introduced to my ears that prevent the relaxation from fully seeping into my body and soul, but they don’t feel extra noisy compared to anything else done on this album (and this album is rather relaxing for Infected Mushroom anyway). Plus, in the middle and end of the song, the soothing calmness returns. Perhaps it’s a bit wavier and distorted than it was at first, but there’s still sleep. Despite, the noise maker, there’s still sleep…


Infected Mushroom – P.G.M. (6.25): Seeing as this song, has very few remarkable moments in it, I’ll be brief. There are only three things about this song that stand out. There’s the short cries of a choir interspersed throughout the song, which for some reason is the most memorable part of the song as it’s barely unique. The second thing I can enjoy in this song are the simple descending melody that appears throughout the song, often accompanying the vocals. Not incredibly unique, but it does its job well enough. I think the most enjoyable 20 seconds of the song is the guitar melody that appears midway through. It gives the song a little bit of flavor, but it’s a flavor given to several Infected Mushroom songs of this era and most (if not all) of those songs did a better job of using the guitar melody within the song. P.G.M. only uses this very simplistic melody 5 times (and four of those times are consecutive. It doesn’t really contribute to anything beyond the 3-minute mark of the song). There’s a couple build-ups that are somewhat decent, but if this song disappeared, I wouldn’t miss it.


Infected Mushroom – Dancing with Kadafi (8.5): When I reviewed Classical Mushroom about a month ago, we ended with a long song known as The Missed Symphony. It was not worth its length. Here, we have a song of nearly the same length as Missed Symphony, but this one is actually worth the time it takes to listen to it. I have mentioned at least a couple times in the past that I quite enjoy it when a song constantly introduces new variety to it as it develops (often over a long period of time). I call such songs journeys through sound. This song in particular was one of the very first songs I’d heard that fits into this category. And because of this, I consider it to be the epitomal standard for what a journey of sound should be.


Summarizing a journey such as this one is a rather tricky task to tackle. It would be so easy to do a play by play recap of every single different change in mood and melody this song goes through, but I fear that would be tedious. I will say this though; the song never goes a full minute without some noticeable change in its mood. Every single moment of this song is good on its own but it’s the way these varying moments flow flawlessly together that makes this song work. From melodies that almost sound as if they’re asking a wordless question to a beautiful duet of piano and strings to a funky jazz vibe to a satisfying victorious melody that answers the question we started with


Part of me wants to go even further in depth with this masterpiece but I fear that doing so might contaminate the beauty of the track. Sometimes, it’s best not to overanalyze every single detail, but instead to simply let the experience wash over you.


Conclusion: I feel like this album was tricky to review at times. While, The Gathering and Classical Mushrooms had songs that were quite clear of what I’d rate them, I found many songs in this album to be a bit more ambiguous. Perhaps it was because the entire vibe of the album had progressed to a more mysterious tone ripe with uncertainty. It’s definitely one of the softer albums in their discography. Yes, everything still has a trance BPM, but there are several points where the drums are subtler or even non-existent.


It’s noteworthy that this album has very few vocal samples in it in comparison to the last two. They begin weening off those vocal samples in this album, which I feel is an important step in their musical development (nothing wrong with samples from movies, but the tradeoff is quite worth their absence).


It’s also worth mentioning that the way this album is mixed allows each song to flow seamlessly into the next (It’s like a journey through sound… but 70 minutes long!). I quite enjoy albums that do this, as it encourages listening to the entire album in full, much in the same manner I described in that final sentence of my thoughts on Dancing with Kadafi. Let the music wash over you as you relax your mind and soul…


Overall, I say that this album is consistent with the trends of their discography so far. Giving it a good rating similar to Classical Mushroom. It serves as a nice transition between the two albums we’ve heard just far as well as the next album, which I’ll review some time in the future. Though beware, that album is both longer and more drastic in change of tone than this one.


Final Score: (7/10)

Ashbury Heights – Morningstar in a Black Car (2008 album)

Album links

Bandcamp: n/a

Soundcloud: n/a

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/23qyXix4jSKwPcZxR276dB?si=isfukz35ROSEJIhtpD7TwA

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLQ58A9BSeYlH1FIRtevk9xXHHG3w-qWdm


Introduction: Welcome back to the ever-edgy Ashbury Heights. Oh boy did we have fun last time with the abundance of edge to uncomfortable limits. Thankfully, Ashbury Heights’ edge is a bit more tolerable this time around so this review should go a little bit more smoothly. Anyways, there’s no point in wasting an excessive amount of time introducing the duo as I think I did a pretty good and thorough job in the last review. Let’s get on with the music.


Ashbury Heights – Morningstar in a Black Car (5.5): Starting off with the title track I see. Actually, this is interestingly the only album in their discography to have a title track (unless they decide to prove me wrong sometime in the next few years). My opinion of this song is fairly similar to Bare Your Teeth, the introductory song of the last album: mostly due to its cryptic lyrics. The music itself is an improvement though, but that might be partly because the piano has more character than the unremarkable synth from the first. The bassline in this one is a bit of a disappointment and I’m afraid it does make this song a bit blander than I’d like. But that’s not too much of a problem as Ashbury Heights have the capability of adding some good lyrics to their songs to save something that would otherwise get an average rating.


Except when they’re cryptic like this. I could sum up what’s said in this song in a few bullet points, so I’ll do exactly that.

  • Verse 1. Ander describes himself with a few edgy™ adjectives
  • Verse 2: More edginess concentrating on nihilism and resigning to suffering
  • Chorus: Just says the title of the song and I have no idea what it means.

Regardless, the lyrics are too vague to glean any real meaning (and the song suffers because of it), so I think I’m just going to move on to the next song.


Ashbury Heights – Spiders (7.5): This was actually my first Ashbury Heights song (though it was a group effort of some songs off of The Looking Glass Society that really got me into them). Spiders continues the trend of Ashbury Heights nihilism. And like usual for this album in particular, the song definitely has some cryptic lines. I mean, the main theme of the song is clearly about the never-ending passage of time, always marching forward as we near closer and closer to our own ends. That much is clear. But I have no idea how this relates to the duo’s apparent distaste for crawling spiders. That’s fair. spiders are a bit creepy. I do relate a tiny bit too much to the rest of the song. Partly because I have a habit of planning way too many projects for myself, so even at 22 I’m already worried about my mortality. Probably over worrying myself, but it’s there.


The music is a bit of a step up from Morningstar in a Black Car. The bassline is definitely a couple steps higher, the melodies are a bit more memorable, and there’s a bit more depth to the song in general. Also, it does help that I find most of the vocals in this version to be a bit catchy compared to the monotone Morningstar.


Oh, this one also has a music video so I guess that could be worth mentioning. I’m not the hugest fan of most music videos. Usually, it’s because the video sometimes contradicts the vibe I imagine when first listening to the song. This one kind of works, as it does seem to focus on fleeting mortality, assigning countdowns to all of the people appearing in the video. Countdown to their death I presume. Then again, that means that Yasmine and Anders die at the end of the music video as they approach one another. Eh, it’s not the worst video I’ve ever seen. The general message is still there. The aesthetic is just a slight bit more edgy than I prefer. It’s honestly not all that flattering, but music videos don’t contribute to the score anyway, so this is really just an extra little thing to look at if you don’t mind a low budget edgy music video.




Ashbury Heights – Die by Numbers (8.25): Die By Numbers is one of the two upbeat originals on the album along with World Coming Down. Interestingly both songs have to do with how bleak the future is. They also both have an interesting variety of instruments used within the song. This one in particular has the best bassline on the album. There’s a smoother bouncier feel to it, and it’s always rising and falling in pitch unlike the more monotone basslines of the last two songs.


There’s also a fair number of synths in the song to keep the song in a constant state of variety. Most of them are quite enjoyable. There are some simple melodies in the first part of the verse and some stabs in the second part of the verse. However, there’s also a slightly scratchier… noise that comes into play along with that first melody. It’s the worst part of the song unfortunately, but the quality of the rest of the song, thankfully isn’t brought down because of it. It’s not even really that bad. I’m just slightly mixed on whether or not I dislike it. A similar synth appears in the chorus as the main, melodic hook of the song, but I think the melody helps make it a little more palatable.


Ok, looking at these lyrics, I’d like to offer some constructive criticism to Ashbury Heights’ method of hygiene when it comes to their hygiene. Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve always found that a good helping of soap and water can really get the grit and grime off the hands. I don’t frequently bathe my hands in blood, but when I do, I find it stains my hands more than anything. But then again maybe I’m doing it wrong because that only happens when I accidentally (important word to include concerning the last album) cut my finger. Does it work better when you use someone else’s blood? I’m not sure if I feel like testing. It doesn’t sound like it would work.


Oh wait. Silly old me. It’s probably a metaphor for how societal trends continually make the future look bleaker and bleaker. We live in a world filled with mistrust, division and violence. From what I see, it hasn’t gotten much better. Every day we move through our lives, not knowing what to do in order to reverse this trend. It’s so easy to resign to a mindset where you just assume society is flawed and can’t be fixed. And maybe it’s true. But maybe not. Maybe this division and mistrust can be turned around, provided that new generations commit to avoid following their ancestors.


In the meantime, our inaction only guarantees the bleak future this song predicts.


Ashbury Heights – Smile (7): A sickening feeling builds in my gut as I hear this love song begin playing, but that’s only because I’m reminded of the toxic nature of Three Cheers for the Newlydeads and I shudder in fear for the edginess that I’d expect from Ashbury Heights. There’s only one love song on this album (two I guess if you really want to count the remixes as separate songs) and it’s thankfully much better than any of the songs on the last album. No toxicity. No suicidal thoughts. Just a nice heartwarming song about adoration of his love’s smile. The lyrics are definitely a bit better in tone. Sure, it does sound like the singer is a bit timid in expressing how much his love means to him. It is Ashbury Heights after all. The song has to have at least the tiniest bit of edge. But timidity is a much more relatable issue to me, and I believe a relationship with a bit of timidity can still work.


As for music, there isn’t an excessive amount to talk about. The melodies kind of blend in with the arp which sounds like it could be a bad thing, but I feel like it works well with the flow of the song. The bassline is subtle but definitely present, though it’s kind of hard to judge how good it is, seeing as I just listened to Die by Numbers and comparing this song with that one just isn’t quite fair. But all comparisons aside, the song works well for what it is.


Ashbury Heights – World Coming Down (6.5): Alright let’s see if I have any bleak future existentialism left after Die by Numbers. Because World Coming Down is once again quite bleak and yet quite upbeat at the same time. In fact, I’d argue that it takes both of these aspects to greater extremes in comparison to Die by Numbers.


Starting off with the music, it only takes a mere 5 seconds for this song to kick into full overdrive at BPM soaring above 200. This is admittedly a bit excessive and I’d be a tiny bit more into it if the drum design was a bit better, but that snare doesn’t work very well when played that frequently. There are some points where the song dies down a bit to slower BPMs but it’s not a common occurrence. I’m not going to hold this too much against the song. Snares are kind of tricky to do after all, but I feel like this song would’ve done just fine as a kick. That’s just the drumbeat though the rest of the melodies are plenty energetic enough to fit that BPM. Whenever they are able to get the spotlight like at the very beginning of the song, the outro or any other point in the song where the snare isn’t dominating my attention. Unfortunately, that just isn’t often enough. Admirable concept, but the snare ruins it all.


How about them lyrics though. They are about bleak futures, right? I seem to have implied that much. And the song is called World Coming Down after all, so that doesn’t sound like the dup has the highest hopes for our future. Well, this song is incredibly clear about what it has to say and incredibly vague the rest of time. The only clear thing is that one only has to look around them to see that this world is deteriorating. The signs are everywhere. That much is clear. What’d not clear is what Anders sings of in the verses. There’s a lot of distorted religious imagery with repeated mentions of heaven, Lucifer, crucifixion and likely some others that are seeping under my radar. But what does it all mean? My only possible assumption is that the distorted religious imagery refers to how anything in this good has been distorted beyond comprehension into the mess that we find ourselves lost in. That’s kind of profound. I think I’m going to go with that. Still not fully certain though. Songs like this and Stormbringer from the last album are just impossible to figure out sometimes. Thank goodness I don’t have to review that one ever again


Ashbury Heights – Stormbringer (Aerial remix) (6.5): Wait…


So, the second half of this album is a small collection of remixes. What’s annoying is that both Spotify and the Youtube playlist I linked don’t display these songs any differently than their original counterparts. Only immediate visible difference is that this song in particular has different album art on its face (seeing as its origin comes from Three Cheers for the Newlydeads). Thankfully, with some digging I was able to find a track listing with some more details on where exactly these remixes originate from and have therefore been able to add the remixer on to the end of the title to help differentiate them from the original. This won’t help you when listening to the album in either of the linsk I provided, but perhaps it will help slightly in the second half of this review.


I find remixes to be a little bit trickier to review. Listening to this song in a vacuum it’s pretty alright, not too much different from what I’d rated the original. There’s a reason for that. This remix is almost exactly the same as the original. Let’s go ahead bullet point the differences

  • Intro is 5 seconds longer
  • Bridge is 5 seconds shorter
  • Verses bring the choirs more into the forefront of the song, which I enjoy.

That’s it. There’s really not much for me to say here that I haven’t already said in the original review. If you want to know my opinion of the lyrics check out what I said on the Three Cheers for the Newlydeads review. This is an example of the most disappointing type of remix. So little changes, that if you don’t compare the songs side by side you won’t notice much of a difference. This version is slightly better musically, but it’s such a slight improvement, I’m not sure if I really want to change the rating.


Ashbury Heights – Spiders (UnterART remix) (8): Spiders on the other hand is the good kind of remix. Instead of doing next to nothing with the song. UnterART adds his own unique spin on the song. And I say that this version is the better one of the two. Lyrics and vocals share the same vibe as last time, so I won’t go over them again, but the music is entirely different and it’s definitely an improvement.


The other version of Spiders was pretty good, but it was still lacking in some of the categories that this version excels in. The bassline in particular is noticeable throughout the song. In the original, the bassline was only a couple steps up from the titular song. Here however, the bassline improves a couple steps even higher with its smoother groove. In addition, there’s also a fantastic 15 section that stands out as one of the best moments in the entire album, excluding anything that happened in Die by Numbers. The original version of course, not the…


Ashbury Heights – Die By Numbers (Agonize remix) (2.25): Oh dear. This is unfortunate. Guess we can say goodbye to Yasmine because, Agonize decided she wasn’t worthy of this remix. Instead they decided to replace her with their own gritty pseudo-screamo vocals in the chorus. I’m sure some people are into this, but like I said in the last Ashbury Heights review, I have a limit to my edge. And overly gritty vocals can really ruin a song. Case in point. The verses aren’t as bad as the chorus. They have more of a distorted technological feel to them (think Mind.in.a.box but not nearly as good. These vocals just blend into the background and is barely noticeable).


I’d go more in depth with the music itself, but it’s so uninteresting, I can’t figure out anything to say about it except how it’s incredibly disappointing seeing as the original version is the best song on the entire album. This low point unfortunately brings the album down a notch. I’d rather pretend it doesn’t exist, but I’d be deluding myself.


Ashbury Heights – Smile (Marsheaux remix) (7): Our final remix for the album is a fairly decent one. It has a slightly different tone from the original and therefore is able to stand out unlike the Stormbringer remix. However, it isn’t necessarily an improvement like the Spiders remix (or an awful downgrade like that Die By Numbers remix). It’s really on the same level as the original, just with a focus om some new aspects.


For example, if we start with the bassline, it’s clearly a bit more prominent in this version, allowing for a slightly bouncier feel. Progressing onwards to the leads of the song we have one synth playing a slow-paced melody and the other playing lines upon lines of quick staccato notes. That second synth is used the most within the song, staying present throughout the whole vibe, while the other one is really only important at the beginning and the end. Instead the majority of the song replaces that melody with some variation on the bassline here and there.


Like I said, this is overall a fine remix. It definitely has a different vibe compared to the original, but it’s equally as good.


Conclusion: Overall, this album is a bit better than Three Cheers for the Newlydeads. There aren’t quite as many strong songs on this one, but the only bad song we have here is the one remix that ruined the best song on the album. Overall, that’s definitely an improvement. Still has the edge that seems to be an integral part of Ashbury Hearts style, but this one doesn’t go nearly as dark. No fantasizing about suicide and self-harm here. Just contemplating crippling mortality and the bleak future that society faces. Much more uplifting!


Also, worth noting is that this is Yasmine’s second and last album accompanying Anders as the female singer of Ashbury Heights. Of the three females to be part of the duo so far, Yasmine is likely my least favorite. She’d left following this album in favor of working on her modeling career. Fine by me. The vocalists improve as time goes on. I’ll talk more about them when they’re introduced.


But regardless of Ashbury Heights transitioning out of one age and into another, Morningstar in a Black Car turns out to be a quite good album. There’s a dip in quality here and there (Can you say Agonize?), but that doesn’t prevent the album from getting a score well above average.


Final Score: (6.5)

Daily Hat Track Roundup: January 2019

I’ve been posting these every day on Twitter for the past month so if you’re not following me yet, there’s a direct link in the menu if you simply scroll up. Or you could click on this one right here. Either will do. The wording of these short micro reviews may work better in a daily setting so this whole collection might seem a little disjointed but I’ll work on that tone a bit better as time progresses. Oh and at the bottom of this post I also have linked a playlist of all the 2019 Daily Hat Tracks so you can listen through that if you’d like.




If you’ve already been following me for the past month, then this isn’t going to be much new content for you, but it’s a nice recap of what I’ve been listening to as of late.


Daily Hat Track: January 1 (Donbor – Backward): Discovered Donbor today. Fantastic discovery. I’m a bit mixed on some of his albums, but this album in particular and this song in particular is outstanding. Love the guitar in the beginning and everything else that follows


Daily Hat Track: January 2 (DROELOE – Looking Back (Manu Dia remix)): This remix stole the spot for today’s track minutes ago. Loved the original lyrics about the internal struggles of adulthood and this remix with music box vibes and the other melodies that greatly improved upon DROLOE’s style.


Daily Hat Track: January 3 (Durs – Redemption): Couldn’t hold myself back from posting psytrance for too long, now could I? This one’s got some exceptional basslines to keep me in the groove. Had a lit of fun with it on loop this evening.


Daily Hat Track: January 4 (Moby – Like a Motherless Child (Broken Places Remix)): Spotify’s Release Radar made sure to deliver this captivating remix to me. Broken Places does a better job of matching the emotion of the song’s lyrics than Moby himself. At least, that’s my preference.


Daily Hat Track: January 5 (Andy Hunter & Christine Glass – Amazing): Didn’t really discover much new music today, but that’s not gonna stop me from posting something. How about a classic? Andy Hunter was my biggest introduction to EDM and this is my current favorite song of his hailing from 2002.


Daily Hat Track: January 6 (The Avener & Ane Brun – To Let Myself Go): Beautiful tracks with a good drive are one of my weaknesses. Here’s a recent discovery of mine from that category. Listen carefully to every single element and instrument as you listen to this one. Because each one is a small part of a masterpiece.


Daily Hat Track: January 7 (Comaduster – Far From Any Road): This ominous entrancing track definitely caught my attention today. The tone of the song has nice unsettling feel to it. And the lyrics are even more unsettling so if you’re into that (I am) then make sure to give it a listen!


Daily Hat Track: January 8 (Ashbury Heights – November Corrosion): Embrace the break of day with yesterday still in motion


This song is actually about pulling an all nighter due to existential crisis. I’m posting it now because I forgotten to post a track last night so yesterday is still now.


Daily Hat Track: January 9 (Ecepta & Azaleh – Shadow Truths): It’s way too late for me to still be up so here’s a chill vibes Daily Hat Track that I heard today. Let us all read and rest in the shadows.


Daily Hat Track: January 10 (Ehrling – Groove): The main reason I live Ehrling’s stuff is the saxophone. The saxophone is likely one of my favorite instruments in existence. If you’re unaware of my love for the saxophone, then your ignorance of my saxophone loving shall soon fade away.


Daily Hat Track: January 11 (Torul – Ausverkauft – Frozen Plasma remix): My favorite track from today’s Release Radar is the great Futurepop synthwave combo that is this Frozen Plasma remix. Haven’t delved into the lyrics quite yet but the vibe is great regardless.


Daily Hat Track: January 12 (Infected Mushroom – Bust a Move): Classic Infected Mushroom song and totally not a hint at what album I’m reviewing next.


Daily Hat Track: January 13 (Lemon Jelly – 64 aka Go): This song is a journey in two ways. Firstly, the theme is about embarking on a lengthy journey so that’s that. Secondly, the variety within the song (especially the guitar at the end) makes it a journey through sound.


BONUS THREAD (worth the read I promise): https://twitter.com/BeretBeats/status/1084941640366804993


Daily Hat Track: January 14 (Justice – Planisphere): I’m not certain why Spotify decided to put a nearly eighteen minute song in my Discovery Weekly, but it was still well worth the time to listen to every last bit of it.


Daily Hat Track: January 15 (The Other Colors & Marie Mööre – Pretty Day (Remix): Today’s weird enough already so let’s add some more weird to it with this trippy edgy track with the cutest lady singing about how pretty death is as everything around her descends into madness.


Daily Hat Track: January 16 (Eddie Bitar & Psycrain – Vertical Poetry): Who wants more psytrance? I’m always wanting more psytrance. Eddie Bitar is a recent discovery of mine. His collabs with Psycrain are his best and this is the best of those so this is the best Eddie Bitar.


Daily Hat Track: January 17 (Bjørn Torske – Clean Air): Yeah, I know it’s the 18th but this is the track I meant to post yesterday and I’m sorry for being so late on it. But I ain’t gonna get stressed I’m gonna take a step back and breathe the clean air that is this beautiful track.


Daily Hat Track January 18 (Sean Tyas – Chrome): This week’s Release Radar was mostly a flop. This is the only one that really stands out to me. It may just be trance with pseudo-inspiring lyrics at the beginning but it’s good trance with pseudo-inspiring lyrics at the beginning


Daily Hat Track: January 19 (Sesto Sento – Louder): It’s getting louder and louder and louder and louder. It’s getting LoUdEr and LoUdEr and LoUdeR and LoUdEr. It’s getting LOUDER and LOUDER and LOUDER and LOUDER


Daily Hat Track: January 20 (Ehrling – Tequila): Is it cheating to do to Ehrling tracks in one month? Because this one has an even more energetic upbeat melody (plus more sax, always more sax, the EP is called Sax Art and it is flawless).


Daily Hat Track: January 21 (Ghost – He is (HEALTH remix): Today’s track has a slight bit of edge and despair to it. An emotion that might ward off some listeners but I’m definitely into it. Though as you may see this Friday, I have limits to how much edge I can take…


Daily Hat Track: January 22 (Henry Saiz & Band – Downfall (Overture): Great song about finding beauty within the inevitable chaos of this world while also focusing on the similarities and differences between what we dream of and what we see in reality. Plus the music is just plain ol’ good


Daily Hat Track: January 23 (Ashbury Heights – Penance): Finishing up Friday’s review so I haven’t listened to much else. Here’s a sneak peak of the edgiest review yet! Not the best song on the album because I’m leaving the best for later but there’s some good existentialism in here.


Daily Hat Track: January 24 (Etherwood – In Stillness):  What a beautiful album opener. Such a gorgeous track about slowing down in life to finally find peace.


Daily Hat Track: January 25 (Neelix – Mosquito (Interactive Noise remix): It got really late this Friday. Here’s a new remix of one of Neelix’s more creative songs with synths made of mosquitoes. It’s not quite as good as the original (this one is less subtle and not as majestic) but both are worth checking out.


Daily Hat Track: January 26 (Yanni, Marc Russell, David Scheuer & Tinatin Japordize – What You Get): Today’s track comes from a brand new discovery of mine, Yanni. Dude has a massive discography but I’ve only just brushed the surface with these genius piano melodies and the surrounding almost cosmic environment.


Daily Hat Track: January 27 (Royalston – Oscilla): DnB songs are always good. Take this Royalston track for example. The melodies in the middle of the song really have a soothing feel to them, but the variety the rest of the track offers is pretty great too.


Daily Hat Track: January 28 (The Anix – Mask): It can be quite easy to hide behind a mask. I sometimes wonder if I’m hiding under a mask even from myself (nonsense I know). Well, The Anix tackles masks in this song. If we wear a mask, what truly hides behind in the shadows?


Daily Hat Track: January 29 (Sesto Sento – Musik Make U Feel (Live mix)): So basically I listened to a bunch of music that would be fun to party to. Except I was working at the time so not really a party. But feel that musik. This and Louder are great tracks for getting in that partyin mood


Daily Hat Track: January 30 (Mind.in.a.box – The Dream): I go a little bit overboard with this guy’s stuff when reviewing. The story is real dense here so here’s a sneak peak at tomorrow’s review. Fittingly I chose the song, The Dream from the album Dreamweb.


Daily Hat Track: January 31 (Pendulum – Propane Nightmares): Sorry if today’s tracks seem a bit lazier. I’m trying to do my best to match the tone of each day (if that makes sense). I listened to a lot of Pendulum today and while this track isn’t a new discovery, it definitely is a classic.




Mind.in.a.box – Dreamweb (2005 album)

Album links

Bandcamp: https://mind-in-a-box.bandcamp.com/album/dreamweb

Soundcloud: n/a

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/3wJLkm6XJEwfoGfN8a7To7?si=RDIKci-cR8mnFF8VnzWVAg

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_nsZvd85DCMrxWiwsIMpp-BPQO91jb4tFI




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




Last time on Mind.in.a.box: An agent is tasked with following a hacker, hoping to eventually capture his target before the man teams up with a mysterious woman whose identity and purpose currently remain obscured from our knowledge. All the while, he contemplates his past, worrying about the memories that seem to have become hazy within his mind. And he worries that the future may be equally hazy, as change looms on the horizon. Conflict arises within his mind. Will he be able to embrace the change that seems inevitable? Will it crush him? Is there any possible way to avoid it? Can he prevent himself from falling into a world of chaos, trapped in a feeling of aloneness as the world grows ever more distant? A world in which he can no longer trust what is real?




For the hacker has escaped the agent’s clutches. He has found a way to the other side. He has entered an entirely different reality.


He has entered the Dreamweb.


And nothing will ever be the same again.


So the agent flees…


Mind.in.a.box – Tape Evidence (7.5): Hopefully, my recap isn’t too redundant, as Tape Evidence somewhat reviews past events as well. It’s not as clearly stated as the paragraph I typed up, but the recap definitely has a unique style that a paragraph can’t capture, even if it’s less thorough. Half of the albums in the Mind.in.a.box discography following Lost Alone start out with a reminder of where our agent currently finds himself on his mind-bending journey. There are a couple of exceptions (Revelations is too vague, R.E.T.R.O. isn’t canon, and Broken Legacies… well it’s best not to talk of Broken Legacies right now). I’m planning on giving my own little recap myself in future Mind.in.a.box reviews, giving a clearer outlook to where the story has left off. This song, for example, takes us to a room where the agent is currently staying. His sleep is suffering. His dreams haunt him. He hazily remembers the events of Lost Alone but his memory is proving hazier more and more as time goes on. There must be something wrong with his head. Natural deterioration? Or more? Who can he really trust?


And then he receives a mysterious package at the doorstep. The person who’d left it seems to have vanished without a trace, leaving only their evidence behind. The agent plays the tape, finding it filled with recordings of his calls to his employer as he lost the trace on the hacker that had disappeared that fateful evening…


Serving mostly as a recap of past events, this song doesn’t really add much new information to the story at hand. If anything, it only brings us more questions. What’s in the agent’s head? Why have his dreams begun to haunt him more and more? And who left the tape on his doorstep.


Well, regardless of the answers to these questions, I must admire the way this song integrates the world around our agent into the song. He doesn’t just tell narrate the events that happen to him. You can hear his emotional state in the music itself: the unsettling feeling as he describes his dreams, the thunder and pounding in his head as he cautiously approaches his door wondering who could possibly approach him at this hour. The mysterious arp and bassline that plays as he relistens to the tape depicting the events of the last album and questions begin to arise in his mind. The foley in the scene involving the tape (doorbell, door opening and closing, and inserting the tape into a player), also is a nice touch.


But most interestingly, I also enjoy the way that this song integrates past songs from Lost Alone within the song. There’s the line from Leave, “This is not what I wanted,” providing some continuity for the agent’s arc. And when the agent listens to the tape, you can here actual clips from Forever Gone depicting the agent’s panic as he loses the hacker. Interestingly, the song also features clips from Certainty, the next song on the album as a vocal sample during the first portion of the song and as the agent falls asleep with his headphones on. Speaking of the next song on the album…


Mind.in.a.box – Certainty (7.75): Certainty is a solid introduction into the more musical tracks of Mind.in.a.box. It’s certainly not the best song we’ve heard from him so far. Nor is it the best song on the album, but it doesn’t really have any weaknesses either. It has a slightly gritty technological vibe with a bassline made entirely of sixteenth notes and some simplistic melodies for texture. Most of all it has several different voices distorted to create reflect the conflict with in our protagonist’s mind


Certainty has left the agent. His world has begun to fall apart from the inside out. His questions have been burning within him for far too long and he has begun to wonder if they’ll ever be answered. He tries to find peace in his lack of knowledge, but the burning desire for his questions still remain. He no longer cares of anything else but certainty, but absolute certainty is unobtainable. And so, his world begins to shatter. He desperately clings to anything he can find in his life that he can hold trust in before his mind breaks from the pressure of the chaos. But if he can no longer trust his own mind, how can he trust anyone else?


I can somewhat relate. I’ve never had it quite as hard as this agent, but the unreachable desire for certainty has somewhat bothered me from time to time. In the past, I’ve felt like I need to figure out how exactly this world works, how to figure out my place in it and how to find that perfect state of peace. I’ve slowly begun to discover that I’m better off accepting that I’ll never fully know the answers and that it’s best if I take life as it comes to me instead of overwhelming myself for the perfect meaning of life. I’m not fully certain if perfection exists. Maybe that’s the point. I haven’t fully overcome this struggle. Sometimes I regress back into the plague of trying to find out exactly where I belong. But it’s never permanent. It’s important to remember that there will always be days in the future when one is certain enough in themselves that they don’t need to unravel the exact nature of the universe.


Then again, that might be most days for some people. I’ve brought this struggle upon myself.


Mind.in.a.box – Lament for Lost Dreams (9): This is the first song to directly confront the agent’s memory loss. It was hinted at in Falling from the last album, but that was a bit more vague. Lament for Lost Dreams goes a bit more into detail, expanding not only on the memory loss introduced in Falling but also of the dreams that seem to be plaguing the agent more and more as this album progresses (It is called Dreamweb after all). As much as the agent tries to recall the memories of his past, it remains hidden, obscuring the path he’d taken. It leaves a deep hole in his identity and he doesn’t quite feel like himself as he is no longer certain that he is his true self. But what I love most about this song is that he doesn’t let it destroy him. Oh, sure he definitely despairs for some time. Having a haunted past that leaves you uncertain of who you are isn’t exactly a pleasant experience. But he doesn’t let his past (or lack thereof) consume him. Instead he looks to the future, for there are choices, crossroads up ahead that he must face. And if he’s continually consumed by his past, he might not have the clarity of mind to make the right decision… if there is one…


This song definitely stands out in its verses. I know it’s not much but focusing on a solitary bassline (though it has drums and a synth in the second verse but they’re so subtle I didn’t even notice the first time) as the agent attempts to confront his past definitely allows some true focus on the torment and resignation in the agent’s mind. And the simplistic experience doubles up it’s purpose by allowing the arp filled chorus to stand out, both by giving a slight bit of variety to the music as well as solid driving drumbeat to demonstrate how the agent tackles the path ahead of him. He walks forward, leaving the effigy of who we was behind.


All that matters are the crossroads ahead.


Mind.in.a.box – Machine Run (9): Machine Run is certainly the most memorable track from the album and therefore I find it to be one of the best. Part of this comes from its unique feeling from the rest of the songs to the album. Instead of just devoting itself to a purely technological vibe. Machine Run goes ahead and brings some rock influence into the mix right at the beginning with a heavy hitting guitar intro. The rest of the song has a fantastic feeling to it too. The sheer variety that we see in this track is phenomenal. Their song continually flips back and forth between the grittier rock vibe (where the agent stares ahead at the routine to which he’s committed himself) and the slightly calmer arpeggio forced portions with cleaner vocals (focusing on his desire to escape the routine as he contemplates the futility of what this routine will do to him).


Yeah, I summarized those lyrics up pretty well while describing the two different vibes that this album gives us, but that’s no reason to stop there. The agent is beginning to take a step back and look at the situation he’s found himself in: working with a mysterious employer to find a mysterious man while his memories escape him entirely. He attempts to suffocate his nightmares by fully dedicating himself to his work, but what if, he suffocates his own individuality in the process. Is it truly better to ignore the thoughts that plague him, letting them fester inside as he distracts himself? To dampen his emotions as he chases unreachable peace?


Well, by my tone, it’s pretty clear that my opinion is no, but at this point in his life, it’s seems to be difficult for the agent to see what path he must choose. Yes, he could face his nightmares head on, regardless of how disturbing he might find the blurry images of his past, but he doesn’t seem to be at a point in his life where he feels he can face them. He’ll have to eventually. Without doing so he’ll never be able to redefine himself. Waiting any longer will extend his suffering, but for now he waits.


For now, he runs.


Mind.in.a.box – Loyalty (6.5):  This song serves as a partner to You Will See from the last album, so it also runs the risk of going down the bad path of focusing on the bad aspects of love. And if you read last Ashbury Heights review, you can tell that this could be a big problem as I’m kind of sick of the concept. Of course, the relationship in Mind.in.a.box is much healthier than the ones depicted in Ashbury Heights’ debut. Then again, that’s not saying much.


This one doesn’t do quite as well as You Will See. Where You Will See was about overcoming the fallout of a relationship, Loyalty is about looking back on the relationship and putting all of the blame on the other party, which is an unhealthy way of moving on. Better than not moving on at all, but there’s no learning experience here. No strive for possible change. Instead, here’s focus on how the agent used to receive joy from the relationship, but now that his love has broken his heart, he has fallen lower than ever. The holes in his mind grow more painful every passing day.


Perhaps, I’m being too harsh. Giving the agent the benefit of the doubt perhaps his love had truly been problematic and he’s only just now realizing the flaws in their past relationship. The trust he had has evaporate and now he must move on. Credit where credit is due, there is a hint of determination in the second verse in which he determines that he won’t let the tragedy that has occurred destroy him. He will move on and look forward to overcoming his struggles. This is admirable, but it’s not done nearly as well as in You Will See.


Unfortunately, the music is rather bland too. There’s a simple bassline and arp, but they don’t do much of interest. The melody at the end is even more unremarkable. Probably the blandest melody I’ve heard in a while. There’s a portion with the guitar that’s pretty good, but it’s not enough to save the song (and pales in comparison to Machine Run). Overall, it might be over average as far as ratings go, but that’s pretty under average for the expectations I have of Mind.in.a.box


Mind.in.a.box – Sun & Storm (7.75): After the slower more plodding (Ignore the fact that the first line in this song has that very adjective in it) feel of Loyalty, the more upbeat tone of Sun & Storm is very well received. The technological drive I love from Mind.ina.box has returned. The bass and arp join forces in this one, forming on single entity. It works better than you’d think. Leaves some nice room for the ominous stabs as that occur every four beats as well as some more beautiful melodies that provide an interesting contrast to the rest of the song (which I find to be much harsher). The last third of every verse also features a piano which is absolutely lovely. And there’s also a synth that’s really just a highly distorted iteration of the chorus which I think is absolutely masterful.


As for the lyrics, Sun & Storm continues the development of the agent’s lost memories. Or more accurately, he abandons those memories and reaches forward into the future. A sequel to Lament of Lost Dreams if you will. Unfortunately for him, his struggles aren’t over as soon as he casts aside these tortuous dreams. The world still begins to collapse around him as he continues down the path for a future of freedom. His will begins to shatter as everything changes around him. Pleasure is now pain. Those he knew are spiteful to him for some reason. He can’t seem to escape his past as easily as he’d originally thought. Wherever he goes, it’s there lurking in the back of his mind. Whatever he does, it’s hiding in the shadows of his subconscious. His struggles haven’t fully disappeared. Perhaps they never will. They’ll always be there, but without working to overcome it, he will resign to suffering.


An interesting side note in the second verse as there appears to be some new information here regarding a person who’d originally came into the agent’s life providing a small sense of security of the chaos. But something went wrong. They fell to the darkness. The agent still stayed but suffered because of it.


It’s very well possible that the person in question could be the lost love… but I have the sneaking suspicion it’s someone else the agent knows…


Mind.in.a.box – Out of Time (8.25): This song isn’t too particularly musically interesting, or more accurately, the lyrics are so interesting I don’t want to spend much time with the music because there just isn’t enough to say in comparison. It’s got your general Mind.in.a.box vibe with a heavy focus on layers upon layers of arps organized in a fashion that gives off a technological environment. But that’s enough of that. This song has a story to tell.


The state of being out of time is quite a mind-bending concept. As simple as it sounds on the surface, time has always been a constant force in our lives. And if we were to slip out from under time’s grasp, then could we even comprehend what we’ve found beyond? With such a strange concept, this ends up being one of the more mysterious songs on the album. It took me a few listens before I made a breakthrough on what this song represents within the story, but it honestly should have been obvious from the get-go.


Out of Time is a sequel to Forever Gone.


When we last left off in Forever Gone, the agent had found our hacker sprawled out on the floor. He and his employer suspected the man had crossed to the other side, into The Dreamweb itself. The hacker has broken his mind down into code, allowing him to live in his impossible virtual world of the Dreamweb, claimed to be forever gone. Gone into a world that cannot be found.


And now, as the agent continues to ponder the events of that evening. As he questions where the hacker has gone and how the Dreamweb works, perhaps wishing to escape himself, we can still hear the voice of the hacker speaking through the Dreamweb. The Dreamweb is out of time. It’s where our hacker resides out of reach of the agent and his employer but it’s as much of a prison as an escape. One can’t help but notice that he’s lost alone in this new prison of his. The Dreamweb isn’t quite easy to navigate as the hacker had planned. He’d likely entered in haphazardly when he realized that he was being traced in the last album.


Of course, it’s also very well possible that the “he” in this song is the agent himself. That the hacker is speaking through the Dreamweb about an inevitably. Perhaps the agent himself will enter the Dreamweb in due time…


Mind.in.a.box – Dead End (9.25): our agent has been watching for this mysterious woman for a while now. She was last seen speaking to the hacker months ago and now the agent and his employer have found a lead that she’ll be at this club this evening. Who is the informant? We don’t know yet. Check back later. But that doesn’t matter, for as the agent continues observing the people entering the club, he begins to realize that they’re beyond the time that the informant said she’d be here.


So he goes in.


In a hectic fury, the agent pushes his way into the club, desperate to find this woman. Following the events of Forever Gone, she has become the only lead on what could have possibly happened to the hacker and she may just be the key to figuring out how the employer can find a way into the Dreamweb to apprehend the man. The agent keeps his mind clear and his focus straight. Nothing matters but the target. Nothing matters but capturing her and bringing her in. Nothing matters except the music…


The music?


A chaotic drumbeat begins to seep away at his mind. He tries to break away. He has to find her. She is the only thing that matters right now to the mission. She’s the only lead. But the music? A bassline roars into his mind. It overwhelms his thoughts. A constant distraction from his goal. His goal. His goal is right there. He can see his target in front of him right within his grasp. He approaches her but cannot reach her. He cannot reach past the music. The music? Arpeggiated progressions flow into his mind. Reality begins to distort around him. He begins to see visions of another place, another realm? An endless corridor reaching up into the sky. Rain falls down on his face despite the fact that he’s indoors. Where is she? The lead? There’s no one there. There’s nothing there. The music overwhelms our agent…


He blacks out.


Mind.in.a.box – The Dream (7.75): I don’t know if you’ve caught onto this by now, but dreams play a big role in this chapter of the Mind.in.a.box story (The title of the album is Dreamweb after all). After seeing the hacker escape into a dream of his own, the agent has found that his own dreams have begun to haunt him. Especially after the events of the last song. All of this comes to a head in this song, The Dream.


The song definitely has a great eerie vibe at the beginning. Only introducing slight elements. One simple melody echoing from the shadows. One ominous bassline creeping in from the shadows. And a simple three kicks with the occasional snare slowly echoing through the night providing a nice plodding feel to the song. Here, the agent reflects on his current state of mind. His dreams have haunted him to the point where he can no longer tell if the few memories that remain are real.


And then a voice invades his mind: “You fell asleep and now you’re mine… Just let go and embrace your dream…” The agent’s supposed mental deterioration isn’t natural. It’s the cause of someone who seems to have infected the man’s mind. Someone who claims to have taken control of the agent’s dreams. Someone who has been tormenting the agent for some time now, manipulating reality before his very eyes. The agent pleas in response to this voice, desperate for he has been broken by these dreams. He no longer knows who he is.


The song begins to develop from this point onwards, adding in some arps and quickening the drumbeat to new levels as the agent continues to converse with the voice in his head, but when the beat takes on a full four-on-the-floor pattern, the voice in the agent’s head takes over the song completely. The mysterious voice gloats on how much the agent’s world has been distorted. Anything he had before his mind had been invaded has since disappeared. He finds himself lost in a confusing world in which he can trust no one, not even his own mind. His past has been taken away from him and so it must be left behind.


The agent responds as the song gives more focus on the arps. As the voice says, the agent is surely lost. He may have found his place in the present for now, but something about this life he’s living feels wrong. Almost as if the missing past and the present don’t match up. The agent had wallowed in his pain in the past as he’d wandered the streets of life, searching for a place for his mind to call home. But now, when faced with the dream that has been residing in the back of his mind, he gives in to the voice. He embraces the dream instead of the reality before him.


But whose to say the dream isn’t reality as well?


Mind.in.a.box – Reflections (8.75): The story of the agent’s search for the hacker and his Dreamweb (along with the search for his own identity) has gotten quite complicated as of late. The agent’s thoughts and dreams have been scattered across this album in a seemingly orderly pattern, but in reality, we’ve been viewing this chapter in the Mind.in.a.box story nonchronologically. We may have started this chapter at Tape Evidence, but we should really perhaps it would be best to take a step back and observe the events that led up to Dead End and the aftermath of the hallucinations and dreams that overtook him that evening. We’ll need to go deeply into the story presented so far in this album in order to make sense of the narrative. Something that this song does quite well. But before we dive into the bigger picture, we’ll have to start at the beginning…


Following the disappearance of the hacker, it has taken nine months to finally find a lead on how he switched over into the Dreamweb. The woman who’d he’d spoken to that evening of his disappearance is the only possible lead that they have. It’s only when the agent’s employer (who from now on shall be referred to as White as he has finally been named) finds an informant that knows of the woman’s location that they’re able to finally make some headway.


Queue the events of Dead End.  The agent sets up his position outside the club late evening on October 22. And after haphazardly entering the club, he experiences a song like no other. A song that digs into his brain making him envision another world before stealing his consciousness away from him. He awakens in a gutter early morning, disconnected from his employer and his mind succumbing to a state of eternal confusion. It is then that the dreams begin to truly infect his mind. All thanks to the music at the club.


Thankfully, despite being disconnected from his employer, he finds White shortly after awakening. Not only do we get a name reveal (technically a codename but it’s still significant) from the employer, he makes a physical appearance as well, an unusual event according to the agent. Further piquing my interest is the tape the agent is given. This slightly mirrors Tape Evidence, though it should be noted that this is a different tape. Unless of course one method of receiving the tape only occurred in his imagination. It’s not like his mind is the most trustworthy at the moment.


Well, if it is a different tape, then one must wonder what’s on this one. Furthermore, one must wonder exactly who this person in the club was, the informant from earlier perhaps (can he be trusted?).  A thought crosses my mind though it might not have crossed the agent’s yet. Was the club perhaps a trap?  Could the informant possibly be allied with the hacker and the agent’s female target? Was the music at the club specifically played in order for these people to get into the agent’s dreams? Of course, that goes under the assumption that the dreams are coming from the hacker’s allies. They could be very well be coming from another party… I believe it would likely have to be someone who knows a thing or two about the Dreamweb as the dreams are likely connected to the reality the hacker had escaped into.


As the dreams continue to plague him, the agent returns to his home, exhausted from the life changing events that had occurred last evening. He tries to fall asleep, but the music is still there, pulsing in the back of his mind. He can feel them in his head. Interestingly, at this point in the song, it isn’t the ominous pulsing bass from Dead End that is playing in his head, but the guitar from Machine Run perhaps this is the point in time that the agent introspects on the endless routine that he finds himself trapped in. Should he escape it or succumb to it? Impossible to tell at this point.


As the song ends the agent finally falls into a deep sleep. Perhaps when he wakes up, there will be a tape on his doorstep…


Mind.in.a.box – Between Worlds (7.5): Not really too much to say about this track musically, I haven’t perhaps doing the best at paying attention not the instrumental parts in this album, most because of how story-heavy it is. There’s simply not enough time to do so. This one does have a few good melodies here and there, but I don’t think any of it is significant enough to step away from talking about the narrative.


The agent’s exhaustion continues as we approach the end of this chapter with this penultimate song. Now that Reflections has caught us all up on the events of October 22-23, it’s time to explore further where this leaves the agent as he’s begun to accept his dream (see two tracks ago in The Dream), he’s found himself suspended between two worlds. The reality he’s lived in for his entire life, and the Dreamweb of the hacker’s own invention. And both worlds are changing constantly, shifting the agent’s perspective as he struggles to find a place that feels right despite the wholes in his memories (Has his mind been wiped?).


As the agent frantically searches his mind, trying to figure out what went wrong to lead his to this predicament, he finds himself suspended between two worlds. Will he have to choose his place between the two worlds to finally find peace?


It seems he is at a Crossroads


Mind.in.a.box – Escape (7.75): While the dreams of our agent have remained central to the conflict of this chapter, there is another underlying conflict burning in the background. And as the last few songs have begun to wrap up the conflict with his haunting dreams (though permanent resolution is still distant), we can take a closer focus on another struggle the agent has been having. Shall he stay where he is, committed to the routine of his life working with White to seek out the hacker in the Dreamweb? Or shall he try to break free from the machine he’s been running for? Is it time to run from the machine itself?


The agent has a burning desire to reach out for a greater meaning. He’s felt lost in this city for far too long and still hasn’t found a place to rest his mind. A place where he can finally feel comfortable as the person he is. A place where he can find the person he is. He desires an escape from the rain that he’s envision falling from the sky ever since he’d heard that music in the club. The music that’s been plaguing his mind ever since. If only he could find a place where he can find peace…


But instead, he finds himself trapped in his routine. He merely follows White’s orders as they attempt to track the hacker and his Dreamweb. But as the chase drags on and becomes more and more complicated, more and more taxing, the agent has found himself sacrificing his own self, his own identity. Perhaps that is why he’s begun losing his memories. I’m not saying that his memories naturally disappeared due to this overtaxing endeavor. If the hacker can escape into an alternate reality such as the Dreamweb, then it’s not out of the question that one could pick and choose which memories to keep, and which ones to remove. What if the agent could choose to remove those memories? What if there was a way to manually extract any distracting thoughts of the past, allowing the agent to concentrate solely on his present mission? What memories could have haunted him to the point where he had to choose to remove them in order to focus on his mission?


Of course, who’s to say the agent was the one to make that choice…


To be continued…


Conclusion: I wasn’t able to go as in depth with the music in this album as I had in Lost Alone as the narrative really took up a large percentage of the review. Overall, I’d say this album was better than Lost Alone as far as music goes. Very few of the songs on Lost Alone stood out with their music (Walking is an exception). Here, however, several of the songs have a unique feeling to them as Mind.in.a.box hones his craft. I was able to sneak little bits and pieces in there as there are some points where the music is outstanding like in Machine Run, or absolutely integral to the story like in Dead End. But in the end, the narrative really overtook this review quickly as the agent chased the people involved with the Dreamweb as well as the truth in his own mind.


Speaking of the narrative, Dreamweb definitely kicks the storytelling up several notches above Lost Alone. The plot thickens greatly as the agent finds himself torn in several different directions. He’s torn between his past and his present as his lack of memory leaves him unsure of who he really is. He’s torn between different realities as he begins to have visions following his experience at the club in Dead End. He’s torn between the choice between sticking to the routine he knows, or breaking free from it, abandoning the little he knows in this world for the chance of finding peace.


He finds himself at a Crossroads. He must make a choice.


Final Score: (8/10)