L̸a̷s̶t̴ ̸t̸i̵m̸e̸ ̴o̸n̶ ̷T̴h̴y̶x̶:̵ Ẁ̷͙ả̵̠i̸̳͌ṱ̷́ ̵͓̦̍͝a̴̖̋͠ ̴̝̀s̴͔̀̓e̷͕͔̐c̵̨͗̄o̸̼̪̒n̶̙̈̓d̷̮̿ ̷͕̓w̶̺͕͒̽h̶̜͂y̶̤̗͊̍ ̴̦̌͗a̴͕͒̔m̶͉̑ ̵̘̈̈́Ï̸̛͚ ̷̛̭͔͘d̶͎͌̀o̶̻̍͘ȋ̸̧͓n̸̠̂̆g̷͇͋ͅ ̷̞͚́̄t̶̜̿͊h̸̨̪̔̀ĩ̵̘̘s̷̤̪͑?̶͇̆̈́ ̷͖̐͛ I̵̝̝̳͙̒͊̕͘ ̸̑̃ͅh̷͙̩̊à̶̜̜̱̲̀v̶̘̙͗e̵͉̥͇̳͝n̴̝͌’̵̯̺̩͕́̚t̴͉͈̀̒̓̓ ̷̱̎ṛ̶̤̦͆̂̚e̶̖̾͝v̵͕͍͚͈͘ǐ̶̺̈̏̕e̴̙̎͝w̶͉͉̌e̵̺̲̖̘͑̇d̶̘̩̥͌͝ ̶̞͙͉́Ț̶̪̮̘͘̚h̵̲̪͐̀̐͗y̴̧͗̕ẋ̵̢̞̤͂̆ ̷͖͉̖̒̌͗̕b̷͇̲̜̆e̷͙̤̓͘f̴̢͓̮͂̍́ͅo̶̖̫͕͕̓͂́͠r̶̢̬̞̫͑̒̕ḛ̶̀̔̌…̶̟̻͎̓̂ ̴͔̺̦́͒͘ t̸̲͕̖̪̰̳͒̏͌̄̀͋ḧ̴̪̹̝̌̎͑̊ḙ̵̠̈́̂͘r̷̨̫͉̙̮̰̓̊͂̓͠e̸̪̝͇̼̥͋͂̉ ̵̧̻̬̺͐ǐ̶̹͔̏̑͛ṡ̶̭͗ ̴̝͙̪͒̽͆̐͛͑ǹ̷͉̫̦̮͚̄͜ó̴̲̋̿̃̈́̈́ ̶̹̟̜̙̤̺̐̆̈́̀͘l̸̡͈̘̥̲͒̓̈́̓̀̚͜ä̴́̈́̀͜s̷̲̾͘̚ţ̷̡̡̤̣͔̈́̉̆ ̷̢͕̥̱͋͐͊͑̄t̸̜̗̟̺̟͋̔ì̶̡̬̖̠̦͇̉m̵̨̦̥̱̓͝ė̷̢͈͈̟͖̜̈́͑̀̾̚…̴̟̟̘̠̦̫̚
Introduction: THYX isn’t a new artist. The name is new yes. You’ve never seen it on this site before. But I started reviewing the man behind this name all the way back in early January. Perhaps the whole introduction/last time/introduction bait and switch at the beginning of this review has keyed you in on exactly where this alternate alias comes from. It’s Mind.in.a.box, the artist behind the narrative of Black getting caught in the struggle between White’s Stalkers and The Friend’s Sleepwalkers.
But as established in the last Mind.in.a.box review, Stefan Poiss hasn’t devoted all of his time to the Mind.in.a.box narrative. After the singular non-canon album that is R.E.T.R.O., Poiss decided to create an entirely new alias for the songs that don’t quite fit into the story. Boasting four albums so far, the THYX discography is a neat little side project that I really haven’t spent enough time listening to.
Of course, since reviewing these albums requires me to listen to many of these song on loop for a extended periods of time, that may be about to change.
THYX – Spoil (7): Now then, I’m not going to avoid comparing this to Mind.in.a.box. Such comparisons would be inevitable and it’s only right to highlight a few nuanced differences between the two sides of Poiss. There is a lot of overlap seeing as their source is the same. The vocals are no different from what I’d expect from Black’s story. Perhaps a bit cleaner in tone, but it’s clear that the man behind the mic is still Stefan and he still expresses many of the same existential themes in his lyrics (more on that later). The music also still has a huge focus on arps that reflect a technological soundscape. This song in particular has some great guitar riffs that are in no way foreign to Mind.in.a.box. Just take a look at Machine Run and every song related to it by using the same riff pattern.
Unfortunately, from a reviewing standpoint, any differences between the two aliases are a bit too subtle for me to be sure how to describe them. The sound is, from what I can tell, a slight bit cleaner than most of the Mind.in.a.box songs. Oh yeah, there’s still some grit there. The drumbeat is actually above average grit for Mind.in.a.box despite the rest of the song being a bit on the chiller side. And there’s a bit more variety in that drumbeat as well, constantly switching between half-time, four on four and syncopation not keep anyone listening on their toes. Other than that, it’s just the usual fantastic technological soundscape I love.
The lyrics in this one are a bit tricky. There’s the chant of either “Get to me” or Come to me” for starters. I’m not sure which one it is, but I’m pretty sure there’s very little difference from the meaning of the end result so it works. The rest of the lyrics, however, speak of spoiling… something. Someone somewhere screwed up and brought another person to fall. There’s some implied regret in there, but honestly, it’s kind of tricky to visualize the scene that’s painted here.
Song still sounds good though so there’s that.
THYX – My Own Little World (8.5): I must say that as far as the music goes, this reminds me more of R.E.T.R.O. than canon Mind.in.a.box. There’s no connection to any Commodore 64 games and an entirely modern tone to it, but the bassline seems to remind me more of R.E.T.R.O. than the other 6 albums in the Mind.in.a.box discography. The bassline is especially responsible. Mind.in.a.box seems to tend towards incredibly fast arps for its bass or slower smoother basslines for its calmer tracks. This one appears halfway between, somewhat similarly to all of the video game covers from R.E.T.R.O. Either way, the bassline is only really relevant near the beginning of the song. I barely notice it later on as it takes a backseat to everything else.
Everything else has some decent development to it as every instrument intensifies as it goes on. The drumbeat starts off rather calmly with a few beats here and there, but by the end of the song, it has a strong prominent syncopated pattern. Not overwhelmingly energetic but still stronger than where it began. Also, the main melodic instrument of this song, I mistook for a simple ambient element, but by the end of the song, it morphs into a full-on guitar solo (less energetic than most, but still much more powerful). Even the vocals start with a whisper and end in a passionate cry.
And those vocals tell a fantastically relatable story. Not an overwhelming narrative story as in the other alias, but instead focuses more on the themes of Black’s journey without delving into the specifics of the Agency and the Sleepwalkers and everything else my favorite artist throws at us. Think of this song as an accompaniment to the themes of Machine Run and Redefined, though not nearly as powerful as the connection between those two greatly heighten my enjoyment. Plus, it’s focused more on the isolated sense of self one has in a crowd full of people. In my experience, the overwhelming pressures of society often cause me to keel under my own suffocated desires and isolate myself into any form of escapism I can. It’s the easy way out, but it’s not the healthy way out.
I too desire to renounce my habit of isolation that only poisons me slowly as I shut out even the projects I value (like this blog I find myself procrastinating on too often). I too, desire to change.
THYX – The Way Home (6.25): Titular track! Let’s take a look…
The last two songs had rather harsh beginnings. Gritty drums. Strong basslines. This song however opts for something calmer. One echoing simple melody. A mysterious way to start this song for the first 15 seconds before getting that bassline (and technological arp of course) introduced. Unfortunately, from there, the song doesn’t go through too many changes. It definitely sounds good, but instead of morphing over the impressive seven-minute duration, the song is really just easily divided into two sections. The first half being the upbeat 4 on 4 section (which I already just described) and the second half being a slower paced calmer vibe where the vocals serve as the main highlight. The second half is an appreciated change in pace, but it isn’t especially musically remarkable, and it doesn’t provide quite enough variety to justify the seven minutes.
The lyrics that those vocals present to us though, are incredibly cryptic and all too difficult decipher. I really wanted to try and scrounge up a meaning, but it all seems to be some sort of hallucination or dream (web?). There are some mentions of destiny and the world passing by which are neat concepts that are explored better elsewhere. But there’s no real narrative or message between them here so I guess we’ll move on.
THYX – Underdive (8.5): Kicking the album back into overdrive, we have the song titled Underdrive (don’t ask questions, just go with it).
Underdrive marks one of our peak for upbeat on this album. There are a few others that are fantastically upbeat too, but there’s only one that comes even close (which I’ll obviously talk about later. but this one does serve as one of the most energetic outings of THYX’s debut. There’s an incredibly solid kicking pulsing from beginning to end without a break. It doesn’t really tire though as the rest of the song provides plenty of variety (including a snare to keep the drumbeat bit more interesting). Plus, Poiss adds some signature arps which only increases that drive to new levels thanks to the rapid progressions. There’s also a bassline in there that’s a bit interesting, but it doesn’t really contribute to the drive of Underdrive so I’m going to pretend it’s irrelevant (my excuse for not having much to say about it other than it’s interesting).
So, the music is nice and simple. Easy to sum up and yet quite solid. Are the lyrics equally simple? Well they certainly aren’t as cryptic as The Way Home, so they’re at least simpler to look through. However, that does mean I actually have more to talk about seeing as there’s some actual meaning to this one. This soul-baring track is all about delving deep into one’s own soul. Trying to make sense of the inner workings of one’s mind while also making sure to keep a hold on the outside world. You can dive deep into the unknown soul for some time but you must always come up for air by finding what’s real. The journey of self-discover never truly ends and it’s important to keep a level head throughout.
Oh and one last odd thing to mention is how sometimes when Poiss sings “Back on track” it sounds like he’s bleating like a sheep. This doesn’t really affect my rating of the song in the way. I just find it to be amusing.
THYX – Black Hole (7.5): Following the incredibly driving song known as Underdrive, we have a song named after the enigmatic black hole, an area in space that bends reality to a point where its gravitational force sucks in everything around it, including light itself. Obviously, such an intense unrelenting object from beyond the stars would be one of the most intense song on the album, right?
Well, as Underdrive has shown, titles can be deceiving. Black Hole is actually one of the slowest and least energetic songs of the album. Compared to the last song, every melody and drumbeat here is progressing at a crawling speed. Looking at the arp alone, you can easily hear the beginning and end of each note. But that still doesn’t prevent the chord progression from moving smoothly from chord to chord. This arp takes the brunt of the music in this song alongside some soothing pads and a drumbeat that joins the song halfway through. These drums do give the song a slight bit more of a drive, but it’s still incredibly slow paced compared to the rest of the album.
However, while the tempo doesn’t fit the title Black Hole, the song isn’t fully false advertising. A Black hole isn’t just defined by a dead star that bends reality with its own gravity. It’s also a void of complete and utter darkness. And these lyrics are the bleakest this album has to offer. Even the vocals themselves sound as if the singer (almost said Black but had to remind myself this isn’t in any way canon to that auditory universe) has completely given up hope. And the lyrics? Even bleaker. Black Hole is about regret and the inevitability of failure. It declares life to be dark, cold and hopeless. And yet, somehow as the song closes, there’s one last bit of false advertising. “Together we will find another place… I will bring us home.” Hope may seem lost at certain points in life, but sometimes one just needs to move forward to find a new place to find peace. There is always hope.
THYX – Awesome (6.5): Continuing with the trend of false advertising, we have Awesome. Awesome isn’t awesome. Oh, it’s not a bad song, but it doesn’t really stand out in the slightest. Really just run of the mill for the album. Solid drumbeat. Good bassline to accompany that drive. And a melody to add a little bit of flavor to the rest. Overall, the song is pretty groovy. Not much variation, but the song is short enough that it doesn’t matter. Plus, it has some great robotic vocals that allow it to stand out among the other songs (which mostly use cleaner vocals).
The lyrics are a bit odd though. Poiss keeps on switching between three different vocal sections. The first is a conversation two robots have between themselves on how awesome the song is. I personally find awesome to be a stronger adjective than necessary, but these robots don’t think it’s strong enough, so they make sure to strengthen that adjective with some choice intensifiers that cause this song to be labeled explicit. Probably the most amusing of the three lyrical sections.
The second vocal section I hesitate to call lyrical, because it sounds like it’s made entirely of chopped up vocals so that they can be used as more of an instrument rather than a vehicle for words. Or maybe there are lyrics in this part too… I can’t make them out… and no matter where I search, I can’t find any sources that give me a hint of what could possibly be said.
The cleaner vocal section is a bit clearer though it really just sounds like the singer just wants to be told whatever it is that he wants to hear. Apparently what he wants to hear is endless ramblings on how this song is awesome. Oh… and he also wants poison… ok…
This song is not awesome but it’s good enough
THYX – Snow in July (8.25): Ok, not false advertising really, but it doesn’t snow in July. Or at least it shouldn’t. But it snows in April up here in Wisconsin so hey it’s a possibility. An unwanted possibility but a possibility, nonetheless. As far as I can tell, snow in July is an inconsequential concept to this song other than in title so hey maybe it is false advertising in a way. Not sure what it was advertising, but I don’t think we got it.
Snow in July is one of the most enjoyable songs to listen to on this album. It’s got plenty to offer and plenty to love. The variety in this song stems from how it becomes more powerful over time. It’s not quite as dynamic as My Own Little World, but still notable. The intro probably has the most rapid change as it starts out quite completely calm with the bass and the vocals echoing in the distance. But as time goes one, the drumbeat draws the vocals and bass closer together, reaching a passionate high as the singer (again, not Black, old habits die hard) declares he’s not better than the rest. From there, the song continues to build more as it introduced more melodies, more syncopated drum patterns and the most technological vibe in the album (or at least I find it to be the closest to the usual Mind.in.a.box style)
Oh and before I go on to the lyrics, I wanted to make sure I mentioned how much I adore the way the Poiss pushes the upper limits of his vocal range. I think I’d mentioned this in a previous review but a sudden increase in pitch in male vocals makes a song incredibly enjoyable to sign along to. They’re challenging their vocal range, so perhaps I shall too.
While the music is definitely enjoyable, I find the lyrics to be a bit iffy. Oddly, when I was first listening to this song while preparing for this review, I had the impression that this song was about finding your place in society as you reach your goals, making this one of the more inspiring songs of the album. I was partly right. Yes, there are glimpses of the inspiring aspects I mentioned (which was probably what threw me off), but there is an unfulfilled tone to it all. Yes, goals have been reached, but immediately after he claims that nothing has improved and nothing matters. He’s just another face in the crowd no better than anyone else. You know. Typical existential despair.
THYX – In the Past (7.25): Really not going to spend too long talking about the music this time. It’s a rather simple song with medium tempo and a nice groovy arp and the occasional guitar riff. Plus, it has a decent melody at the end that reminds me of classic Aviators (who you probably don’t know but I plan on reviewing him next week, so you’ll know soon). That’s pretty much it. Really not much variety in this one. That’s fine though. At least it’s not overwhelmingly long
Plus, we’ve got lyrics to make the song a bit more interesting. This song is a bit of a grab bag. The song starts and ends with themes of misplaced anger, a man wanting vengeance and yet no knowing why. He’s forgotten a piece of his past I guess (strangely similar to the Mind.in.a.box universe, but again, this stuff isn’t canon). There’s also a few lyrics in the middle of the song that reflect more on the isolation that was introduced in My Own Little World. And for a fourth theme, Poiss’ favorite theme, we have change, escaping the monotony and trying to find a way to move on to the next chapter in life. Change will happen, but it’ll happen more quickly if you work for it before the doors close around you.
This song has a lot of great ideas as you can see, but it’s so eclectic that I feel it would be a bit better if there was more focus. Thankfully, there’s plenty of other songs in this album and the Mind.in.a.box discography that do a lot better
THYX – Into the Realm (8.25): Into the Past, Into the Realm. Regardless of the song, we’re going in.
This song’s calmness rivals the relaxation of Black Hole, spending much of its time devoted to the ambient chords and a simple drumbeat and bassline. None of it is intrusive, but for the first bit of the song, none of it significant either. I actually don’t care much about the music of this song until after it breaks the mold of being relaxing. Around one and a half minutes, the song quits rivaling Black Hole with its utter relaxation and offers up a more upbeat chorus. The song still uses a rather medium tempo with only a tiny bit of syncopation, but it’s enough to break the silence it once shared with Black Hole. The song still remains relatively chill though. Just not the chilliest it could be.
And that’s fine. My opinion of Into the Realm is mostly about lyrics anyway. This song rivals Black Hole in another way by diving into some extremely bleak themes and ideas. And this time around, Into the Realm wins (Black Hole isn’t the darkest song on the album? False advertising!). Like a few of the other songs I’ve gone over in this album. Into the Realm is about isolation. But this song is the most broken of the bunch. The whole song is apathetic to existence, tortured by the monotony, trapped in an undesirable place in one’s life, and closing the entire world out, suffering alone…
This song is the darkest I can go without spilling over into overly edgy Ashbury Heights territory. And these days, it’s hitting me a bit too close right now.
THYX – No Voices (8.25): Just as Into the Realm attempted to rival Black Holes in its calmness. No Voices attempt to rival Underdrive in its intense drive. It’s not completely upbeat during the entire song, but that doesn’t prevent it from winning the battle. Not only is the BPM faster i ngeneral, there are several elements to this song that reach heights of speed that make them sound slower than they really are. Makes sense? Probably not, but maybe I need to be more specific. Look at the arp. It may be difficult to notice it’s there at the points, not only because nearly everything else is so loud, but because the notes play so undeniably quick. The song is already at 160 BPM as it is. And seeing as the arps sound like they’re made completely of sixteenth notes, that means that the arp is at a speed of 640 BPM. Not to mention the hats, which when present also seem to blend in with each other due to their speed.
Other than the insane breakneck speed this song has, there’s some other elements that make the song stand out among the rest. The song sounds the most experimental overall, as many if the instruments sound crushed and glitched. The bassline is quite odd from the beginning, as it sounds like it’s made of several layers of overly distorted noise, though hit does so in a way, that is strangely pleasant to my ears. There’s some synths that reach a pitch that could very nearly be piercing, but they barely skim the upper limits without breaking the painful threshold for me. The chord progression is rather simple, as it simply climbs upwards repeating the same four chords again and again, but it really adds to the intensity to the track. And lastly, the lyrics are repetitive, but the vocals are not as it sounds like every iteration of “No voices in my brain” has a different tone to it. It’s all unique and it all works.
No voices in my brain. Sounds like a good thing to me. Don’t know about you, but if there were voices in my brain, I’d find that a little bit horrifying, especially because in many narratives, voices that intrude on one’s brain tend to be of the malicious variety. I guess, if it was a friendly voice that just spoke nonchalantly of pleasant things, some of them being direct encouragement and others being just general fun things that the voice was interested in, I’d be totally into the company. A shame that this song implies that such a voice isn’t there. It certainly isn’t there in my life. Or maybe the voice is more subtle. What if the voices refer to thoughts themselves, the internal train of though in which we speak to ourselves in our head: neutral voice that sometimes ends up positive, sometimes ends up negative, but most importantly, the voice that truly represents our own true identity.
I don’t want to lose those voices…
THYX – Crack It (6): The conclusion of this album is kind of underwhelming. It’s not bad, but it also pales in comparison to many of the other songs, especially because the second half of the album is quite high quality. I guess part of it has to do with the fact that there’s no lyrical content to rely on, yeah there are vocals, but all of it is chopped up and nonlyrical, so there’s no unique message that could possibly heighten my experience. However, I guess that does serve to make this song a bit more unique. That’s really all the song has to offer though. The rest is rather unremarkable. It’s slow but not relaxing. It’s absolutely repetitive. And it takes way too long to fade out in the end.
Honestly that’s all I have to say on this song though. Bit of a lame ending in comparison to what preceded it, but they can’t all be winners.
Conclusion: The Way Home was quite an interesting album to review as I went in here completely blind (just haven’t found the time to listen to THYX for some reason despite being aware of the alias). Overall, I do enjoy the divergence from Mind.in.a.box. It has a slightly different feeling than Mind.in.a.box as this album did not stray from the technological instruments in the slightest, while Mind.in.a.box has been consistently using pianos and guitars. I do miss the narrative and that is part of what’s preventing this album from being solid like the Mind.in.a.box albums I reviewed, but it’s still a well-enjoyed experience.
Final Score: (7.5/10)