THYX – Headless (2016 album)

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Introduction: With this album review, we’ll be very nearly caught up with the THYX discography. I may come back and pick up some singles later. And of course, I still have to go back over to the latest chapter in the Mind.in.a.box story, but I had to hold out for over a year after 5ynchr0ni7e so you all cn at least wait a month.

 

Anyways, this album is almost definitely the highest point of the THYX discography so far. If the quality continues to climb upwards… well… I’d like to see what Poiss will do to top this (Spoilers: this album is great).

 

 

 

THYX – Not My Deal (7.75): Poiss start this album off slowly with this song going at a relatively slower tempo compared to much of the upbeat trance I review. But slow does not mean still. The song begins with just the bassline and a kick and it easily expresses that this song will be able to pick up some good momentum despite its slow BPM. Some of this may relate to the variety of drums added in between the primary kick and snare, but I feel the bassline itself does provide the necessary groove to keep this song moving.

 

That being said, as far as the music goes, this song doesn’t really have all that much variety to it. For much of the song, it’s the same bassline and melody played over each other with only slight instrumental variations. But other than that, there is very little variety to be seen. Normally, I’d find that to be a bit of a problem, but I’m a bit forgiving in this case as that bassline is certainly worth listening to for five minutes and the melody is nonintrusive. The vocals and lyrics are the main focus anyway. At least that’s how I feel for many of the songs on this album (though the musical quality gets exceptional later on as well, so we’ll split it 50/50).

 

The main theme of this album is overcoming bland monotony in order to find one’s true identity. Uproot the prisonous system that holds you down and instead embrace one’s destiny.

 

But we’re not there yet.

 

First, we must establish the prison. Due to the technological theming that we automatically expect from Mind.in.a.box and THYX, it can be determined that the singer of this song isn’t fully human. The biggest piece of evidence is in the first verse where the singer mentions that he believes that he’s being rebooted by a mostly unseen entity. I have to say mostly unseen because while it’s vague who exactly “they” are, it sounds like they’re the ones giving commands to the singer always promising him that they’ll only ask one more task of him before promptly coming up with a new command, trapping the singer in an endless cycle of repetitive tasks and empty promise… an empty life.

 

And the song takes it a step beyond simple emptiness, for this singer isn’t only losing any sense of purpose, even his identity seems to be fading away (Totally haven’t seen that before in any of Poiss’ other works). He tries to take some time to analyze himself and try and sort out who he is, but he’s unsure of what thoughts are his and what thoughts have been falsified by those that appear to control him. As long as he’s in this prison there is no way for him to know any sort of truth.

 

He must escape.

 

THYX – Don’t Get Alive (7.5): Well, that’s a bit of a nihilistic looking song title if I’ve ever seen one. Must be a great song then! And I will agree with my initial assessment that this song does fare a little bit better than Not My Deal, at least musically. The song has much more variety, allowing for a better contrast between the verses and the chorus. There admittedly isn’t quite as strong of a beat backing the song up, but the contrasting melodies between the verses and the chorus more than make up for it.

 

Throughout, the song, there is a strong focus on the arp, regardless of whether or not it’s a verse or chorus. But when it comes to melodies, that’s where the music shows its true emotions. In the verses, there’s one simple melody rising and falling in the background, but you have to be looking for it in order to notice it as everything else, bassline, arp, and drumbeat, are a bit louder and have the ability to drown out the melody. It still sounds good and I believe the melody does have some subtle effect on the song, though not nearly as much as it does in the chorus, which brings a second melody into the mix along with some extra ambience, bringing the song to its emotional heights.

 

And that’s saying something, because the vocals in this track, don’t really sound too emotional. Oh, the lyrics are still meaningful, but when it comes to delivery, the vast majority of the song is distorted to sound like it comes from a robotic AI of some sort. All humanity is stripped away from these vocals, leaving nothing but the existential call to not get alive. To not exist. I’m not exactly sure how one doesn’t get alive, but I get the feeling I’ve already failed at that. Last I checked, I had a pulse, which is pretty standard for things that are alive, such as myself I think the song is directed at a group of unawakened programs created by the speaker of this song. For the world is meaningless. Nihilism.

 

And as if nihilism wasn’t enough, this song has touches of loneliness as well. The singer recalls a time when they dreamt of companionship, a friend to break its lonely solitary existence. It seems at first to appear to be a simple solution to an existential problem. Find a friend. Find meaning. End nihilism. But it’s a bit more complicated than that as the speaker of this song soon finds out. Nothing changed when they finally succeeded in creating some sort of connection, some sort of friendship. But one friendship doesn’t solve one’s existential quandary. And as the speaker realized this they slipped away further into their nihilistic worldview. And as they lost all hope, they shut the world out fully, They are dead to the world and refuse to come back to life.

 

Kind of a depressing message for this song to display. But it’s all the more important for the arc that serve’s as this album’s purpose.

 

 

THYX – Headless (9.75): Those first two tracks were just a warm-up. Headless, the titular track of the album is a turning point in album, because from here on out nearly all of these songs are Cream of the Crop for THYX (one song ruins the streak but still, this song is a huge step up from the ones surrounding it). And this song, despite receiving a very high 9.75 rating., is not even the best of what’s to come.

 

This song wastes no time, dropping a heavy half time drumbeat a solid bassline and a distant background melody, so subtle that it almost feels as if it’s not there. From there THYX continually adds new instruments. In the first verse, he adds some distorted guitar riffs, an equally powerful snare to add onto the existing drumbeat. In the second verse, some hats subtly fill in the empty spaces between the kicks and snares, and there’s a second melody in the background that slowly builds up to find itself rising above the initial softer melody but still suffocated by the harsher drumbeat and bassline. Most uniquely, there’s the calmer chorus that strips all of the gritty elements from the verse and provides a breath of fresh air with nothing but clean vocals and a piano. And for the finale… Actually, let’s hold off on that finale for the end of reviewing this particular song. I feel it deserves some special attention.

 

The lyrics fit well into what the album has displayed so far, depicting the societal system we have in place as a trap for the individual, suffocating their identity and ideals behind lies and untruths, destroying one’s authenticity and blighting potential futures that would lead to a more satisfying lifetime. And yet, despite the philosophical horrors of the whole ordeal (at least from my point of view), I find myself still looking for the next job to follow mindless (or headless) tasks simply for a paycheck.

 

Ok, that’s getting a bit personal, but there’s one last thing I wanted to mention about this song. I’d held off on the finale for a reason. It’s easily the best part of the song. The slow downtrodden half time beat has plagued this song long enough. Oh, it’s not horrendous or anything but it pales in comparison to this switch-up in which the song reaches its full potential. The tempo is doubled, the guitar riffs are accelerated, the stringed ambience grow more intense and the melody that had been stuck in the background this entire time finally brings itself to the forefront of the song as it serves as the highlight of this high-energy conclusion.

 

There may be some musical symbolism caught in there, but I think I’ve said enough for you to make the connections on your own.

 

THYX – Doomed (7.25): You want something groovier?  How about Doomed? Don’t mind the nihilistic title. Just focus on the upbeat groove. There is nothing depressing about this song at all, it’s just an illusion, my friend. Just an illusion…

 

But groove can only take a song so far. The bassline and drumbeat introduced at the song’s very beginning, do provide a very good groove, but that’s very nearly all this song has to offer on the musical side of things. There is very little change from there on out until he last chorus.

 

The lyrics are a slight bit odd as the lyrics in the second half seems to apply to a completely different person in the first half. I have a better handle on it now that I’ve listened to it a few times, but Poiss missed an opportunity to slightly alter the voice in the second half. I know he’s capable.

 

This song seems to be about the social status of the CEO of a company and those who work under him. The first verse and the chorus depict a supervisory character that gives commands from the office on the 300th floor. High above all the other workers, referred to as fools. There’s so much callus in these lyrics, taking pride in controlling the lesser and refusing to take any of the blame when anything in this little game of ruling the fools goes wrong. Not to mention the use of fools is incredibly demeaning. But then you hear the fools’ side of the story

 

This song, again, is more about being trapped in the societal cycle than escaping it. And it does admittedly take a nihilistic approach to the situation, thanks to the so-called fools declaring that they are doomed to remain in this game, following the rules of another, never ceasing for any sort of individuality, accepting that the paradise they desire is an unreachable illusion. If that’s not a nihilistic approach to one’s place in the world, then I don’t know what is.

 

Yeah, this is the track that feels a slight bit lesser than what’s to come. Makes that whole turning point thing I mentioned in the last track kind of moot. But the song’s still pretty good so it doesn’t really bring the whole album down all that much seeing as I can now say the rest of the album is truly Cream of the Crop.

 

THYX – Gravity (8.75): This song is perhaps the calmest song on the entire album. It begins with nothing but foreboding ambience and a simple piano melody, and for much of the first minute of this song, that’s all there is, but the simplicity here is quite beautiful in this case, and as an 8 minute song, it has plenty of time to allow the relaxation to seep in and soothe the soul (which I need all too often). The arp comes in with the beat and some strings not long into the song, but it’s all so slow paced and subtle that it doesn’t intrude on the relaxation in the slightest, which is really important for a long pathway to slumber like this one. Everything about it is subtle and even though the back half isn’t exceptionally eventful, it does have just enough development to make the song length worth its while.

 

There are some minimalistic lyrics to this minimalistic song as well as the calm development. Most of the song is dedicated to showing that this song is depicting a force other than gravity. Another true constant in the universe that keeps us grounded. On its own these lyrics are completely vague and seemingly existential with very little point. But thanks to the last song, we now know that there is a game that we must play in life, whether we want to or not: a game of forces. Once again, this one does seem to indicate that there’s no escaping this game. Comparable to the constant of gravity, society is merely another force that keeps us grounded.

 

And as the song concludes, the whispers of gravity and forces of nature, slowly fades out, distorting into something more robotic as it brings itself to a defeated conclusion…

 

THYX – A.I. (9.75): Headless may have been an extreme change in quality from its surrounding songs, but this is another turning point in the album. For there is an arc to this album. And while we’ve been dealing with a lot of nihilism up to this point, that’s about to end. And boy this song is the way to do it. I mean before even getting into the lyrics, the music probably gives me more chills than any other THYX song I’ve heard (prior). Even more than Forgotten from the last album (which has a sequel I’ll get to shortly).

 

But let’s get to A.I. first. This song is definitely among the best this album has to offer, and I’m having troubles figuring out whether or not it’s better than Headless. When I’d first listened to this song, I immediately was worried it would be tricky to figure out which song is the absolute best this album has to offer. Thankfully, a song later in the album made this choice much easier, but we’ll get to that in a little bit.

 

Like Gravity, this song is a mixture of simplicity and complexity. One of the only main consistent instruments is the arpeggiated synth introduced about a minute in. And I consider it to be the most iconic part of the song especially when it begins to wind down in tempo before throwing the song into double time right afterward (similar to the switchup in Headless). There’s plenty of ambience going on in the background, including some great strings that give the song some sort of victorious gravity for at the beginning. There’s also some good influences from the bass in the remainder of the song following the switchup (which is obviously one of my favorite part of the songs if you know my preferences)… though I think I actually prefer the slowing of the iconic arp a bit more. That stuff gives me chills.

 

I’m getting carried away a bit in a chaotic manner. The vocals are also intensely important to my enjoyment of the song and I’d argue that they’re some of the most intensely emotive vocals that Poiss has ever put out (but not necessarily the best) If the mood strikes me just right, the sheer emotion can bring tears to my eyes accentuated by the arp which is constantly giving me chills throughout much of the song beyond the first minute. Every moment of of Poiss’ undistorted vocals is sheer passion and paired with the lyrics, the song really cuts me deep.

 

This song is indeed a victory cry as indicated by the chilling passion that I feel throughout the experience. This is the moment, the moment, the breaking point in which one overthrows the constricting patterns that serve as the most existentially horrifying part of life (at least that’s how I feel about the constrictions; this song is very personal to my current situation). This song is about breaking free from the mold that can crush the spirit and embracing a new future of promise. I must break free of my limitations. I must find a way to escape the future of monotony. It is time for change.

 

THYX – Forgotten II (8): Forgotten is, unsurprisingly the sequel to Forgotten, my personal favorite from the last album, Super Vision. Like I’d said then, Forgotten should have definitely been the closer as the best song of the album. I love some good musical storytelling and really tend to gravitate towards enjoying those songs the most when looking at Poiss’ work. But on an album with so many exceptional songs that could make good finales in their own right. I don’t mind as much. Actually, this sequel gets overshadowed by a lot of the more positively emotional songs. This one, while fitting the narrative of the original Forgotten, is a slight bit more pessimistic.

 

Musically, this song has a lot of similarities with the original Forgotten. It still has a general upbeat vibe and continues to have the same main melody. The verses and bridge also share a lot of the same structure as the original, similar to how Mind.in.a.box’s Machine Run and Redefined had some lyrical similarities between the two songs. The mood has simply switched to something a bit darker (interestingly the opposite direction of the Machine Run/Redefined dichotomy).

 

Unfortunately, there is one section of the song, that completely transforms: the chorus. Now the new chorus is fine, it fits in with the vibe of the song. And I’ll admit that the original chorus’ tune might be a bit too dynamic and upbeat, for this song has a slightly more nihilistic mood. That is somewhat the problem with this song. While it makes sense as a sequel to Forgotten, it doesn’t really fit into the arc that this album has overall. I guess it’s supposed to serve as somewhat of an intermission between the fully nihilistic half of the album and the second half in which nihilism is pushed aside. Personally, I think that the second half has already somewhat started though so it still feels like an odd place to interrupt this ar. I’d rather have had it either before or after Gravity, but that’s just not the way the album is written.

 

Enough ranting about increasing nihilism, interrupted arcs, and track order. This song is about a narrative and I intend to take a look at what the next chapter of the Forgotten story has to offer. Last we’d left the main character of Forgotten, he’s been wandering the desert alone, sending out a signal, a message, hoping that someone out there would answer his call. Time has passed… so long that our character (which I’m almost certain is robotic at this point) has completely lost track of how long he’s been wandering (I guess, measuring temperature is more prioritized than measuring time). But even after all this time, there has been no answer to the message for one and all. No one has answered his call. There is no one else to be found on this forsaken and forgotten planet.

 

And so, he is defeated. The signal is disconnected. The battery is running low. There is no one here. It’s time to shut down.

 

Honestly, I can’t find myself accepting this as the conclusion to the Forgotten story. Even as bleak as things have become, something inside me yearns for a final installment in this desired trilogy. The story looks like it’s found its ending, but it still feels utterly incomplete. This is the most recent album of THYX as of now. I can still hope that the next album will feature a song that brings the story to a satisfying close.

 

THYX – The Phial (10): I wasn’t expecting give out a ten today. I do not throw that rating around lightly, but this song is not only easily the best on the album, it is an absolutely gorgeous piece of art. Like A.I. it reaches to the limit with the passion that Poiss puts into these vocals. But not only is the passion here stronger on a performance level, every single sound that this song produces works in unison, accentuating every surge of emotional connection, bringing me to tears by its end. But let’s start at the beginning.

 

The song follows a relatively simple feeling, with minimal instruments, slowly developing over time. However, I feel like this one is a much more emotional experience, taking everything A.I. had to offer and doing it better. The ambience here gives the song a much more chilling base. It has a shimmering feel to it as if the whispering tone is sent through an auditory kaleidoscope. This along with a very subtle pluck for a bassline serves as the main structure holding the track together.

 

It doesn’t take long for the vocals to come into play, as Poiss begins to bring out the lyrics with quite a dark tone, barely above a whisper. And the dark tone fits quite well with these first lyrics, depicting a dark silent world, decrepit, lifeless. There is a longing to find a light in the darkness, to hear something to break the silent shimmering plane of existence. But there is nothing but a silent starless sky. A suffocating silence that deceives those who are enveloped in it into a nihilistic mindset, disposed towards monotony. A silence that kills.

 

But from there, more and more elements are brought into the song in an attempt to fill the silence. It all starts with an incredibly subtly plucked bassline that gets slightly stronger over time. Whispers can be heard in the background as Poiss sings out the darkness of the soul.

 

And then comes the chorus. It’s here that the piano is first introduced, and it’s here that the tears begin to form in my eyes as this song infects my soul with deep emotions. The piano brings no complexity to the song, only enunciated the chord progression with a tone of beauty. But because of how starkly it stands out among the rest of the instruments, it resonates that much deeper. Though the song does also owe to Poiss’ vocals for some of its emotional impact, as they’ve risen to a higher somewhat more confident level. There are hints of a path out of the dark silence here.

 

For the world is a mysterious void, an unknowable enigma. But the unknowable is not necessarily out of despair. With consistent willpower to remain conscious of the world around you, you can begin to find beautiful lights in the darkness. They may shimmer. They may fade in and out. But there’s always some star hiding there, ready to shine if you’ll let it.

 

Let the star burn bright.

 

The second verse begins much like the first, though the piano has been temporarily removed. Instead more focus is given to letting other elements of the song grow in intensity. The ambience reaches new heights of glory. The bassline becomes slightly more prominent but certainly not overbearing. And the vocals have maintained their energy they’d gained in the chorus. No longer will the lyrics be spoken barely above a whisper, though there still is a truly whispering voice that echoes lyrics as it did in the first verse.

 

The journey continues on. The darkness and nihilistic thoughts don’t fade immediately. They will always threaten to creep back into prominence as the journey of life lengthens. We seek knowledge. We seek truth. We long to overcome the silence and look to the skies to finally find the pinpricks of light that represent the far-off stars of hope.

 

The piano returns as the second chorus begins, this time accompanied by a slower arp that easily matches the energy of the rest of the song. Poiss’ final lyrics of the song reach near the height of emotional conveyance as a final victorious chorus is sung out.

 

In order to find a new beginning and escape the shimmering cloud of silence that suffocates, we msut choose the path towards peace and light ourselves. It I then that our new sould and identity can be birthed. It is then, that we can open our mind to new visions that pierce through the darkness. It is then that we can create the stars in the sky that we long for so much.

 

The time has come.

 

An explosion of light erupts.

 

There are no more lyrics, for the vocals have now reached new heights of passion beyond words. I can feel the emotion resonating from within as the arp gets stronger and stronger and a drumbeat finally joins into the mix, cinematically building up for the next minute. But I think the best thing that gets this finale moving is the rolling bass. I’ve used the phrase, rolling bass, several times before, but I feel like there has never been a better time to use such a phrase as right now. This bassline is a paradoxical combination of a harsh scream smoothly easing its way through the rest of the song. At points it nearly overwhelms the rest of the song, but it never fully takes over. The light does not relent until the song reaches its close. And Poiss’ voice is there the entire while, crying out with passion. It’s a cry against the darkness that much of this album conveys. It’s a cry for victory, a cry for hope, a cry for peace.

 

This final minute is the absolute best minute in the entire album. There is no moment in the entire THYX discography that can match this moment. This is the best thing to come out of the THYX project. And I am unsure if it will ever be topped.

 

THYX – The Pain of Silence (8.5): Not to be confused with Mind.in.a.box – Silent Pain.

 

The last few songs have been great (especially The Phial), but the album has been feeling a little slow. The Pain of Silence changes that trend with an amazing synthwave rock song continuing on with the arc of escaping the mold. I guess, this song is breaking the mold of slow (though immersive) experiences. But I’d say it breaks the mold so far, that it doesn’t even sound like a THYX song anymore. Not saying that’s a problem. It’s not like THYX defines the epitome of quality music and anything that could possibly deviate is invalid. It’s just an unexpected genre switch. I’d try to come up with a good example of a synthrock artist to compare this song to, but I’m honestly drawing a blank, trying to find something that fits such a similar mood. I’ll admit that despite my enjoyment of the synthwave/pop/rock side of music, I’m not exceptionally experienced enough to confidently name a band or artist that perfectly exemplifies the genre switch.

 

But hey, maybe I could just dissect the song on its own to explain it. That’s how it’s always worked in the past. I think what makes this song stand out so starkly from the rest of Poiss’ material is that there are very few overly distorted unrecognizable instruments. There are definitely some distorted vocals (can’t escape those), but other than that, a lot of the song is made up of guitar riffs and solos played over a great varied drumbeat that switches up the mood consistently throughout the song. There’s also a few clean synths and what sounds to be the occasional choir serving for an extra little bit of melodic variety. Really, out of all of these, it’s the guitar that serves as the main draw to this song. The guitar is nearly always present throughout the entire song. In the introduction and bridge, it’s calmly picking at notes as the ambience and vocals sample take the spotlight. In the verses it spends much of its time on the downlow underneath the vocals but, it bursts out of hiding any time Poiss takes a breath. In the chorus, the guitar is allowed even more time in the forefront, allowing it to deliver high energy riffs for longer periods of time. And the outro of the song has some of the most upbeat riffs and a soaring solo on top of it all. All the while, the drumbeat is also changing energy consistently with the guitar that envelops it, finalizing the victorious drive of this song.

 

And victory fits, because the Pain of Silence is, again, about gaining victory over the monotonous chains that imprison us. This theme continues onward from the last song and will be present for the remainder of the album. This song is a bit more certain of the chance for victory. Yes, in the first verse it definitely focuses more on the flawed system that entraps us. It points out possible conspiracies of what’s going on in the background, what’s driving us to stay in this loop of monotony. This verse takes on the same nihilistic view of the front half of the album. However, when the second verse comes around, the focus changes from the resignation to the cycle to the struggle to escape it. And in typical Mind.in.a.box THYX fashion, it does so with a slight bit of representational lore depicting a group of people who have rebelled against the monotony, calling themselves The New Knights, a physical representation that it is indeed possible to escape the allegedly inescapable monotony.

 

But the meat of this song appears in the vocal sample, a speech about the modern world and how it is constantly changing. The crux of this song is that change must happen, whether we like it or not. The world is plagued with societal flaws, but when you boil all of the problems down to their source, it’s clear that the tainted hearts of mankind are to blame. No amount of money or resources could truly cure the world. You have to start by reaching out to the people, to encourage them to change the world around them individually, eventually changing the world on a global scale. This song’s message to one and all urges any who hear its call to become a part of this change. To be part of an overwhelming ocean of change that can hopefully improve the world into a better place for all.

 

The song is aiming a bit high. Songs hoping to reach for a utopia always seem to do so. To accomplish this goal widespread would not only be difficult but probably impossible to accomplish. I’m no sociologist or anything, but I can’t imagine that such a massive paradigm shift would go incredibly smoothly. But perhaps, it’s best to look at this song on a personal level. By trying to break our own personal cycle of monotony and embracing something greater, we can at least change our world for the better. And that’s certainly some measure of progress for now. Keep those greater aspirations in mind for the future, but for now, find out how exactly it is you want to live in the present and focus on achieving that. Honestly, this album is serving more as a pepe talk to myself more than anything else at this point.

 

THYX – No Place For Me (8.25): It’s clear from the last few songs, that this arc has exited the initial cyclical monotony that dominated the first half of the album, The Phial being the initial glorious breaking point and The Pain of Silence continuing to illustrate some of the resistance one will face during this escape (though not abandoning the hope that the escape is very much possible and worth it). Now that the mold has been established to be broken, one must wonder what’s next. Where does one go from here? Judging from the title of this song, that question isn’t too easily answered.

 

I think that of the many songs of this album, this one would probably have fit into the Mind.in.a.box story the best. I’m not just talking about the lyrics (though admittedly, Black’s initial plight after being freed from White’s control does somewhat relate to this song’s theming), but the musical style also feels a lot more similar to the general feeling of most Mind.in.a.box songs. Perhaps it just seems that way because this song finally has a groovy technological upbeat style in comparison to the last several, which were either fitting an immersive calm vibe or pushing the limit to what seems like an entirely different genre. This song, however, spends its entirety catering to the classic technologically arpeggiated synths and a few short melodies here and there.

 

As for the lyrics, this song homes in on the largest source of difficulty one might have when trying to move forward in life after escaping the cycle of monotony. Where does one go next? In this world so focused on making the next dollar, how does one truly escape without turning back to the monotonous nightmare that one can’t feel complete in. The singer in this song knows he mustn’t give in and return to the darkness from whence he came, repeatedly depicting it as a nightmare, but he has no idea where else he could possibly go.

 

One can escape the monotonous nightmare but that doesn’t necessarily make the life that follows an easy one.

 

THYX – Free (9.5): Fittingly, after an album full of struggling to escape, we conclude with a song titled Free: a beautiful fitting closer to this album (I would have also accepted The Phial as an ending, but that might just be because I love The Phial so much). Free returns to a relatively calmer feeling that was so prominent in the middle third of this album, From Gravity to the Phial. It still maintains a slight bit more of that technological feel similar to the last song, with a heavy focus on an echoing bassline, which over the chorus of the song, will evolve significantly throughout, growing stronger in sync with a few piano chords as it builds up towards a lightly funky beat in the second half. There are some other more technological elements developing here as well, most noticeably in the second half. Plus, the most distorted vocals on the album round out the technological side of Poiss’ work quite nicely.

 

But like I said, this song embraces some of the calmer elements of this album as well. Much of the calmer elements of this track work in the background behind the bassline drumbeat and incredibly distorted vocals. I’d already mentioned the piano that accompanies the drumbeat, and while piano may be a significant instrument, It’s not necessarily my favorite in this case. I may slightly prefer the stirngs introduced about 2 minutes in as they rise along with the vocals in preparation for the sl8ightly more upbeat second half of the song. It’s one of the more beautiful moments of this song.

 

Free concludes the arc this album had developed from the very beginning. Now that the mold has been broken and the fog has been cleared, there is nothing left to do but to figure out where to go next. No Place for Me somewhat brushed on this, though it admittedly didn’t have a very positive outlook on the future. Free takes a second glance at the situation and looks forward to the future in a more positive light, vowing to follow a new destiny without letting the past weigh down on the present. Combining all that we’ve heard before and reaching a satisfying ending to the vague narrative this album possessed, this song masterfully summarizes the transformation that this album desires to convey: You can escape the monotony. It won’t be easy, but the struggle is worth it. Life is worth it.

 

So, go and live.

 

Conclusion: This is currently the best album I’ve reviewed so far. Not only does it contain The Phial, one of the few songs that deserve the elusive 10/10, but there are several other songs that come ridiculously close (Headless, A.I. and perhaps Free). There aren’t really any tracks here that disappoint. Some perhaps a bit on the lower end in comparison to the rest of the album (see Doomed). Bit the arc that this album has throughout makes it one of the best albums I’ve ever heard.

 

I may possibly have some biases. I’m at a point in my life right now, where I’m really feeling the message of this song, suffocated by societal expectations and all. Really not sure if that’s anything worth complaining about or if it’s just better for me to suck it up and deal with what life gives me.

 

But someday, I shall be free.

 

Final Score (8.75/10)

Bliss – The Rhythmus Gene (2005 album)

Bandcamp: n/a

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/blisslive/sets/the-rhythmus-gene

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/00nvFS8x2O6fR9KD6QODP7?si=ltEwTWI7ShKIXHYLu0aQyA

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_kMONMGpiXUiLdoKVVVytq4emgic9raziU

 

Introduction: I have returned.

 

Looks like we’ve got another new artist today. So, I guess that calls for an artist introduction. This ten-song album serves as the debut of Bliss, one of my top 3 psytrance artists, the other being the subject of my first review, Infected Mushroom and the other being an artist I have yet to introduce. I’ll save him for later. For now, I’d rather focus on Bliss.

 

 

 

Bliss – The Love Hack (6.25): What is the love hack? The secret to fulfilling our desire for acceptance in this world? Well, it could be something existential like I’ve just described (I do tend to latch onto such interpretations) but it could also just as easily be about Bliss’ secret to making music that I love. A mysterious hack indeed. Well, perhaps not entirely mysterious. I am able to put into words why I like this guy.

 

This song, as well as many of the other songs on this album focus a lot on the classic psytrance vibes, similar to the Infected Mushroom albums I’ve reviewed so far, though this came out shortly after the early Infected Mushroom years. That being said, Bliss is still recognizably different from Infected Mushroom, concentrating more on throwing heavy energetic basslines into the mix rather than the more mysterious soundscapes that Infected Mushroom focused on in early years.

 

This song is a decent introduction to Bliss’ style, mostly due to the fact, that I don’t have too much exceptionally special to talk about it. It simply fits in with the rest of the usual Bliss soundscape. It has the grooviest possible psytrance bassline and a drive that pushes the song forward, but I don’t feel it does all that much from point A to point B. There are a few moments that stand out in the second half. The build-up around three quarters in takes on a slightly different chord progression than the rest of the song and leads into a good finale, but the rest of the build-up just wasn’t exceptional.

 

It sounds like I’m a bit harsh, but there’s just so many other tracks that will display Bliss’ skill better. This beginning is just a slight bit underwhelming in comparison to what’s to come.

 

Bliss – No Gravity (7.5): So, by the title, I would assume that this song is going to float, but that begs the question. Why does this track have such a good bassline grounding it? The last bassline was definitely groovy, but this one seems to dig a slight bit deeper somehow. While never truly the main focus of this song beyond the first couple minutes, the bassline always makes its presence known, even if it has to compete for my attention?

 

Which brings us to the competition. It all starts about a quarter into the track, with the development of some glitchier bassy instruments that develop over time. They eventually trade the spotlight with some more melodic synths along with some whispering of the song’s title: No Gravity. And while the bassline may have originally defied the idea of lacking gravity, the synth introduced about three quarters in after the whispering ends serves as the true weightless highlight to the song, easily losing one’s consciousness briefly into the song, before emerging with a few other new melodies that bring the song to an eventual close. This song is definitely more of a journey and I feel it’s definitely well deserving of the eight minutes it’s given.

 

Bliss – Upside Down (7.5): This song’s introduction is the strangest beginning that this album has to offer. The first thirty seconds have a bit of a minimalistic feel to it. With one oscillating tone slowing down to reveal a synth that must perform a solo until the rest of the song has a chance to catch up. It’s an odd introduction to be sure, but it definitely leads to an interesting technological build-up filled with acceleration and a healthy amount of distorted variation on that original first melody.

 

And really, that distorted variation makes up the majority of what this song has to offer. Not saying that that’s a bad thing and that the song needs more, because Bliss does plenty with said variation that, like No Gravity, makes the song worth its eight-minute runtime. I think my favorite area has to be the section surrounding the three quarters mark of the song, as it features the most drum variation and serves to be one of the more interesting moments the song has to offer. And there was definitely some stiff competition from the odd beginning to the moment in the end where the song deconstructs itself into oblivion (Yes, the conclusion is even weirder than the introduction. Go figure.)

 

Bliss – The Rhythmus Gene (7.75): And now for the titular track of this album: The Rhythmus Gene. And this psytrance bassline does definitely do a good job of proving that Bliss has rhythm is in his blood. In his DNA.

 

In his genes.

 

But don’t worry about that. One doesn’t necessarily need to have rhythmus genes within themselves to enjoy this song. As the vocal sample says, “Things don’t always go as you expect… Sometimes, it’s more fun to throw in a few more unplanned twists.” This song does just that in the second half with a good focus on an entirely separate bassline, this one less traditional for a psytrance song. Instead of the usual rapid constant groove, this new bassline has a bouncier feel to it and it’s accompanied by a long rising tone that allows the song to build up. The preceding more traditional psytrance half was good as well, but I feel like it’s this second bassline and the way it meshes with the rest of Bliss’ psytrance style that really makes this song work.

 

Bliss – Dirty Boy (7.25): Oh yay. Dirty Boy is one of those songs. I mean it’s not a surprise, considering the song’s title, but the vocals used in this particular song are a slight bit seductively suggestive. It’s not a deal breaker, and I’m sure this style appeals to some people, but it’s just not for me. Thankfully, her odd moans and whispers aren’t incredibly present throughout most of the song and the rest of this song’s content is actually some of the best the album has to offer (outside of a couple of other songs). The bassline, as usual, is at a maximum groove factor and there are some good synths here and there that seem to be a bit common in Bliss’ debut album.

 

The best parts of this song have to be the guitar that plays throughout the first half. Unfortunately, it becomes a bit absent as the song continues and focuses more on this lady’s speed preferences and some twist contest that we’ve all been waiting for, but there is thankfully a bit of an extra funky groove to take over and keep the song interesting. It doesn’t truly feel the same as the guitar, but it still keeps the song fun and enjoyable up until the last thirty second outro that allows the guitar to lead us out with

 

I still think I’d like it a bit more without the vocals though. Just my preference.

 

Bliss – Pause (6.75): I’m going to be brutally honest here, a lot of this song sounds so very similar. And repetitive. There’s very few moments where this song decides to deviate from the psytrance norm (though the second half is lightly better), which does make it a slight bit less enjoyable to listen to, but thankfully, the moments that do stand out are definitely quite enjoyable. Interestingly, each of these moments are relatively evenly spaced with one at the beginning, one in the middle and one in the end. Let’s take a look.

 

First off, it’s important to note that the first few seconds of a track can create an image in the mind that will affect the general tone of the song. This particular song opts for the creep factor focusing a lot on eerie ambience, simple melodies and an echoing artifact introduced not long before the song pick up. This intro serves as one of the better portions of the songs, before it reverts to some usual not all that risky psytrance with a cameo of the original creep melody (which seems to lose a slight bit of its effect with the bassline, but it keeps the song alive.

 

The next divergence from the usual occurs when the song begins to slow down, accompanied by a vocal sample of those very two words I’d just mentioned “Slow Down.” And for the namesake of this song, it slows down to a pause, starting the track off from the zero. Allowing a bit of a build-up from nothing in a way. I mean the song did just screech to halt (or pause, if you will) and left the song with a second or two of silence. Anything from there would be at least some sort of build-up from literally nothing.

 

Anyway, the build-up from nothing does, as you’d expect, serves as my favorite part of the song. With the bassline and drumbeat hidden away softly into the background, the other distorted slightly bassy instruments get a chance in the spotlight slowly building up to a point where the song can return to its full psytrance form, with a few more good moments throughout as the song continues to build with some variety with the instruments from the build-up as well as a few notes that slide up in pitch to bring a bit more energy. All until the song begins to fade out.

 

Bliss – Tidal Waves (5.75): Tidal Waves definitely has some oceanic themes to it. How do I know this? Well, there’s a bit of evidence pointing to this theory of mine than just the tidal title. Also, there are repeated mentions of sharks throughout the song. You may be asking what the sharks are doing. And I will admit that that is a good question. Unfortunately, it’s been a bit difficult to try and find the source of these vocals, so I’ll have no original context, but from hat I can parse, it sounds like consuming mushroom puts you in a mindset as if you were a shark. Now, I’ve never consumed mushrooms, and I’ve certainly never been a shark, so I can neither confirm nor deny that this is the case, but that’s how this song continues its oceanic themes.

 

The final element of oceanic theming is the song’s flow. I am definitely forcing this pun, because pretty much all of the songs on this album have a good flow, many better than this one. But good flow is just something Bliss does well. The drums are bit more prominent here than in other songs, but the bassline more than makes up for it by making its presence known as well. The rest of the melodies are mostly absent, meaning this song doesn’t really have much to stand on to keep me interested. It’s by no means bad, but I see no reason to come back to it.

 

Bliss – Monitor Access (8): Now, of all the songs, on this album, this one is the most familiar to me. Of course, it does have to do with my Spotify listening habits. I have occasionally dabbled in the This Is <insert artist here> playlists and when it comes to Bliss’ version, this is the only song from the Rhythmus Gene that made the cut. The playlist instead focuses a lot on his singles and collaborations (tons of collaborations with Azax Syndrom). To be perfectly honest, I do enjoy the rest of the playlist a bit more as his singles focus on a slightly more modern 2010s style for Bliss that I happen to enjoy a bit more than the contents of his albums.  Not saying that Monitor Access and the rest of Rhythmus Gene is bad. As you can see so far in this review, there’s plenty of good stuff to offer and I’d argue that this song quite deserves to be highlighted as one of Bliss’ best. At least, it’s certainly my favorite on the album.

 

Anyways, enough introduction about the fact that this song is worthy of being declared good. The important part of these reviews is why I (and Spotify’s users apparently) consider this to be the best song off of Bliss’ original two albums. Honestly, a good chunk of that has to do with the sheer variety this track has to offer in comparison to the last two. Pause had some interesting elements to it, and I did roughly enjoy Tidal Waves more than some of the lesser tracks of the album, but nothing comes close to Monitor Access.

 

I’ve quite taken a liking to a good melody developing over a psytrance beat, as evidenced in other songs I’ve spoken of like Upside Down off this album or Meduzz off of Infected Mushroom’s IM the Supervisor. This song is no different, focusing on one melody in particular throughout the song as it transforms over time along with the rest of the soundscape. This especially begins to pick up momentum at about three and a half minutes in where the melody has a solo with no bassline or drums to interrupt, followed by an amazing rising chord progression. The most transformative portion occurring at about 6 minutes in where it changes entirely from its normal cleaner tone to match with the song’s secondary bassline as it plays alongside the main psytrance bassline. In fact, the are other points in the song where the main melody and the bassline work in tandem with each other to create a shift in the chord progression which I also like.

 

Also, I wrote down in my original notes that there was syncopation somewhere in the song, but now I can’t seem to find it. I guess that just means that I was rocking to the beat so hard I just assumed it was my favorite type of beat. Regardless, this song does prove to be the best on the album and does indeed deserve its spot on the “This is Bliss” playlist.

 

Bliss – Miracle Whip (6.25): Like the mayonnaise? I don’t really like mayonnaise though. And I have to deal with 10 full minutes of it? Oh joy. Longest song on the album is about a condiment that I’d prefer not to consume. Does it at least make its ten minutes worthwhile musically? Well…

 

The song starts off strongly enough with a piano setting the mood in the introduction of the song, with a creep factor similar to how Pause started out. I feel like it devotes itself more to the creepy vibe throughout the song than Pause. But Pause had a few more enjoyable moments, so that kind of evens out with the creepy advantage. The main thing this thing has to offer is that piano intro and its reintroductions later into the song. It’s the only thing that sets it apart from the rest of the songs on the album and the new melodies it plays at the end, make for an excellent conclusion. The rest of the song’s development?

 

Unfortunately, the majority of this song is missing the piano glue that holds this song together. I think a lot of that has to do with the absence of a main melody to truly develop. There are some distorted synths jumping around here and there and a couple of one note melodies, but other than that, there’s not much else for the song to offer.

 

It’s just not as good and juicy and fun. Guess I better find Bliss and inflict some pain on him.

 

Bliss – Spaceless (7.75): As we near the conclusion of this review, we have one final song from Bliss, Spaceless. This song, like many of the others on the album, spends a good amount of its time catering to the general psytrance elements. You can tell straight from the beginning with the vocals sample that we’re in for some psychedelic fun. And of course, it’s followed by speech in the middle rambling on about some trippy existential topic that one might focus on when on drugs, or when you’re me. I think about this kind of stuff all the time. This one focuses a bit on entropy… Is the inevitable deconstruction of all of reality a bit depressing? Sort of. But we’ve got more relevant problems to worry about in the present than reversing entropy. Though if someday we can learn how to defy entropy… Actually, I have no idea what will happen, this whole concept is out of my field of expertise. My true job here is to explore the music.

 

So, let’s dive into the music of the rest of the song. Does it have anything special to offer? Well, I will admit that this does strangely sound a bit like some of Infected Mushroom’s early work with tons of distortion, and a few extra percussion elements, like the bongos that appear about two minutes in. There’s no true melody to this song (except maybe a couple subtle elements, during the occasional calmer portions of the song), which does make it a bit trickier to enjoy in my opinion, but it still does have a good distorted feel that gives the song a tiny bit of flavor.

 

However, I think the best part of this song is the bassline. This song goes a bit beyond the iconic psytrance bassline at the midpoint and conclusion of the song, and it spends these moments with a slight bit more of a groovy bassline, making these short sections, my favorite moments within the song. And seeing that the second iteration of this bassline occurs at the end, it seems this album has ended on a satisfying note.

 

Conclusion: And so, ends the beginning of Bliss. This album is a bit lesser than some other recent reviews, but it seems that quite a few of my favorite artists do have subpar debuts. Usually, at the conclusion, I’d spend a little bit of time summing up my thoughts of the album as a whole, but there simply isn’t much to talk about. It’s a good debut, doing a bit better than Infected Mushroom’s debut, but there is, of course, more to come from Bliss. And what’s to come is quite a lot better.

 

Final Score: (7/10)

Mind.in.a.box – Memories (2015 album)

Album Links:

 

Bandcamp: n/a

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/mindinabox/sets/memories-44

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/5A0Ko45IIZKgPgvZn84hFF?si=Cy_-2NnZTnO3VYMXYlxUgA

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_nq-wTovKWFVHcHeOu9kki0HCHgsJTVHbM

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

Last time on Mind.in.a.box: As Black’s journey continues, reality begins to unravel around him. In the beginning he was a simple man, living his life out as an Agent employed under White. Working for the Agency against a group of rebels known as the Sleepwalkers. The Sleepwalkers had eluded Black and the rest of the Stalkers for quite some time. Their leader, a man later known as “The Friend,” had killed himself as Black had closed in on him. And another member, a woman named Night, had escaped Black’s trail in a club full of hypnotic music that has been pulsing in Black’s brain ever since the incident.

 

It was then, that Black had first glimpsed the Dreamweb.

 

It was then that White began to lose control.

 

And so, The Sleepwalkers took the opportunity to rescue Black from White’s clutches, recruiting him for the resistance against the Agency Black had once worked for. Transitioning into a brand-new life, Black has understandably had a bit of an existential crisis. His past and his future no longer align. The path forward is more unknown than ever. Black must live with the mistakes of his past. He hopes to redeem himself. To find new meaning.

 

Cast all memories aside, now is the time for the future.

 

Mind.in.a.box – Travel Guide (8.75): As per usual, Mind.in.a.box starts out this album with a recap of past events, making my recap kind of redundant. But this song doesn’t just recap previous events. There is more information here, that’s been lurking in the background and many of them are quite world changing. I believe that this is probably the most narratively intense chapter in Black’s story so far. It’s debatable whether or not this or the one in Broken Legacies blows my mind more, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

 

No need to talk of Broken Legacies here. There’s plenty of material within this song. The very first line of the song metaphysically changes the way you might look at the entire discography. Mind.in.a.box is no longer just the name of Poiss’ narrative cyberpunk project. It’s now the name of a band that’s important to the narrative. They were the ones playing the music in Dead End that first exposed Black to the Dreamweb. They are the band that Black and The Agency have been searching for ever since that incident. It is their music that Black rediscovers at the end of the last album in the songs, Transition and Sanctuary. This adds entire new levels of meta and immersion into the Mind.in.a.box universe.

 

And that’s not all this song has to offer. This song exposes a lot of intel on the Dreamweb and how it works, even clarifying past events back in the first album when The Friend had supposedly killed himself. He’d cheated death by escaping into the Dreamweb, another world that the rebels had used to elude the Agency, keeping them at bay, always one step behind (you might want to take a peak back at Stalkers from Crossroads now). This song even clarifies past events back in the first album such as when The Friend had supposedly killed himself. Black has now discovered that he’d cheated death by escaping into the Dreamweb. Much to Black’s surprise, the Friend is still alive.

 

Now is the time for Night and The Friend to show him the hidden world the Dreamweb. A world intricately connected to the reality Black had once known, and yet so distant.

 

But they have a key.

 

The music of Mind.in.a.box

 

And what fantastic music it is. I mean this isn’t necessarily the most stellar of Mind.in.a.box, but I’d definitely consider it on the upper end of his work. This song has less of a technological vibe than most, focusing mostly on varied guitar work than arpeggiated synths, but it does a great job of energizing this reading of Black’s journal, provided by Night.

 

But his story isn’t finished. Now that he’s conquered his past under White’s control. Black is ready to enter a new chapter of his life.

 

It is time to join the Sleepwalkers.

 

Mind.in.a.box – I Knew (7.75): Now this sounds a bit more like the classic Mind.in.a.box I know. Heavy focus on an arpeggiated bassline paired with the synthetic female voice used from the very beginning of the discography in Light and Dark (though I can also hear Black’s voice echoing in the background so perhaps that’s something to note). Add in a bit of melody and some dramatic drums and you’ve got yourself a Mind.in.a.box song. I don’t have too much else to say about the music, but the real matter of importance here is the lyrical content anyway.

 

This song takes on the tendrils of the last album’s themes of retrospection on Black’s past. It only makes sense to explore his memories in an album titled Memories. However, I feel like this song does feel a bit more positive, focusing a lot more on the new clarity that Black is now experiencing and how he’s beginning to find the answers to the questions he’s been asking his entire life. There seems to be a brighter future ahead of Black…

 

For now…

 

Mind.in.a.box – Unforgiving World (8.75): Unforgiving World has a subtle beginning with a low arp that soloing softly at the beginning. The drumbeat does come in not long afterwards, but this low arp still works well as the song’s backbone. Its influence is never lost, even when it’s covered up with several melodies, especially in the choruses. The variation in the melodies in this song is what I’d consider to be its main selling point. All of the usual technological elements in the verses blend seamlessly with the more organic strings in the second verse. And the chorus features a healthy variety of melodies in its chorus, from the most melodic portion preceding each chorus, to the longer notes underlying the distorted chorus (the latter of which seems to get more intense as the song progresses, though I feel that the hats may have some influence on that.

 

As for the lyrics, Unforgiving World is surprisingly much more positive than you’d think. The unforgiving world that Black lives in does take up some focus on the song, urging Black to give up his hopes like the numerous people hiding in the shadows, accepting the darkness as part of their life.

 

But Black doesn’t relent. Instead, he defies the darkness. He defies this unforgiving world, rejecting in his fears and refusing to fallback into the blind life he’d once lived. Instead he holds on to hope. Hope that one day, he shall find peace within this world.

 

There is hope…

 

Mind.in.a.box – No Hope (7): There is no hope…

 

Seriously, the contrast between this song and the last one is quite odd, to say the least and it feels like it doesn’t belong in the story as the next on the album continues towards Black’s positive path. It just feels completely out of place in his arc. And I feel that the album as a whole would be slightly better without it.

 

There is an alternate solution. The song could very well be following a different Stalker, one still under White’s control. The song does seem to share a similar tone to Stalkers after all, focusing on robotically oriented vocals in the front, with the familiar undistorted vocals in the background, commonly associated with Black. And the Stalkers are quite important to this chapter as you’ll see later (I’m sorry for slight spoiler, but it’s relevant. I won’t go into detail until later).

 

Anyways, since the lyrics are so sparse and vague, I’m going to judge this song mostly on the music anyways. The drumbeat in this one is very solid whenever it’s present, not holding back at all as it’s paired with a great bassline in the introduction. It gives the song a slight bit of energetic edge over the rest of the album, which for the most part, is slower paced, focusing more on dramatic moments than energy. And so, with some great arpeggiated development, this song, while not the standout of the album is good enough to fit within.

 

Barely.

 

Mind.in.a.box – Synchronize (7.75): Synchronize stats off distorted, but quickly introduces a good simple melody and a solid drumbeat. The verses are decent, implementing the more computerized vocals, which makes sense considering that this song is especially heavy on the virtual themes of the Dreamweb. But before I get into how this song affects the narrative, I want to first remark on the chorus, or rather the introduction to the chorus specifically. It’s short, but the drum solo preceding the chorus is easily my favorite part of this song’s instrumentation, though the calmer bridge at about three and a half minutes in comes close.

 

But this is Mind.in.a.box. I can’t go exceptionally long without talking of the narrative. And this album is full of some of the most important developments yet, this song starting with Black’s journey into the Dreamweb, synchronizing with the musical frequencies of Mind.in.a.box and allowing his consciousness to become part of the machine.

 

You could say that he places is his mind…

 

In a box.

 

Mind.in.a.box – Bad Dreams (8.25): Like Unforgiving World, Bad Dreams is a more positive experience of a song, with a deceptively depressing title. Even the vocal tone is a bit deceptive. The odd near whisper in the verses feel especially uneasy. The soft metallic melody doesn’t really do a good job easing the tension, only making the song feel a slight bit more ominous. Not to mention the chorus whose vocals inspire a feeling of passionately loud desperation.

 

But like Unforgiving World, this song depicts Black’s escape from his bad dreams, from his never-ending nightmare under White’s control. But Bad Dreams takes this escape a step further, as Black has now synchronized with the Dreamweb, a reality that Night and The Friends have leading him to ever since Dead End (The music is the key) and Introspection (waking up underwater). Here, Black and the other Sleepwalkers are safe from White and the unfreed Stalkers. Even the Friend, who’d died back in Forever Gone from the first album, has found a way to escape death itself.

 

This nightmare is over. Black’s journey towards redemption is coming to an end…

 

Mind.in.a.box – Silent Pain (8.5): Silent Pain is, fittingly, one of the calmer songs on the album, focusing a lot on soft melodies set over an ambient bassline. It picks up a little bit more with a couple of other melodies and the essential Mind.in.a.box arp. Not to mention the emotional climax that builds as Black ends his journey of silent pain. It still remains to be quite a relaxing song with a great atmosphere to it, even though it doesn’t quite keep the calm it had in the beginning.

 

But that’s perfectly reasonable, quite fitting actually, because Silent Pain is about a journey. Black’s journey to acceptance specifically. Throughout Revelations, Black had struggled with the ramifications of escaping White’s control, but it’s here that I believe that Black has come to terms with is past. Or, at least, he’s fully committed to embracing the future ahead of him, setting the past behind him forever.

 

What matters now is the next step of his journey…

 

It won’t be an easy one…

 

Mind.in.a.box – Timelessness (9.25): Timelessness is easily the catchiest song in Mind.in.a.box’s discography. I’m not sure what it is about this song, but the chorus gets stuck in my head more often than any other song Poiss has made and is among the songs my mind regularly defaults to when it decides to fill the silence with mental music. Yes, I do indeed do this sometimes. My musical obsession is simultaneously a blessing and a curse.

 

Anyways, I’m quite certain that the simplicity of the chorus’ lyrics is what helps it stick in my mind. It’s not exceptionally quick paced and it only has two lines of lyrics (or four, if you want to divide it into an ABCB rhyme scheme rather than a single couplet). And despite being computerized, the chorus still has an emotional charge to it, depicting the experience of what it’s like to reside in the Dreamweb (again, talking of the lyrical content while analyzing the musical content is quite risky but hold on a second while I finish this off).

 

The verses, while not as catchy as the chorus, still have a grand effect on the song overall. The vocals may be the star of the show in the chorus, but here, it’s all about the bassline and melodies (and arps of course, always the arps). Everything here meshes quite well with the lyrics, and if it weren’t for the catchiness of the titular chorus of this song, I think I’d have preferred the verses. (Oh, and one last thing, the rising frequency at the end of this song makes for quite a great finale).

 

Anyways, seeing as this is likely the most story-heavy album of the Mind.in.a.box discography (the next five songs especially, I might not even mention the music in most of them), it would probably be a good idea to go into detail of what this song is about. Along with many of the past few songs of this album, this is about the experience that is the Dreamweb, which Black has finally fully entered, falling asleep in one world and waking up in another. Now in the Dreamweb, completely free of White’s influence, Black now has more clarity in his life than ever before. It is now that he feels at peace with the truth of the reality around him.

 

Surprisingly, he had to leave reality in order to discover that.

 

And then he came back…

 

Mind.in.a.box – Face It (8): Ok, this is probably the grittiest edgiest sounding track in the Mind.in.a.box discography. It has a very slow tempo with a heavy rock guitar serving as the main source of energy. And the namedrop of the song is much harsher than anything else in the Mind.in.a.box discography. But it also is a very important turning point in this album, not as artful as Redefined, but still a very important moment in Black’s life, transitioning into the most narratively driven stretch in the entire discography, five entire songs dedicated to Black rising up from his depressed slumber and actually standing up to White and the agency. It is time for him to face his past, to cut off who he was and to embrace the future.

 

This song is the perfect blend of Black’s past regrets of his time under White’s control and his desire to change the world. Mulling over his past has done nothing for him so far.

 

Now is the time for action.

 

Black exits the Dreamweb…

 

And makes his way to the Agency.

 

Mind.in.a.box – Up there (8.75): Enter Stalkers.

 

This is it. These next four songs will display the showdown between Black and White, concluding a major arc of the Mind.in.a.box story. Think of it as a finale of sorts (though not the final finale, there is more to come). Black has sought out White and found his way to the Agency’s headquarters. He and White stand on the rooftop of Black’s previous workplace (somewhat depicted on the album art, though there’s only one person there so I’m not certain), now in a stand-off between a rebellious Stalker and his previous employer. But Black is at a dead end. There is no way out for him. It’s all or nothing.

 

And then, the rest of the Stalkers show up, their face blank, with all of their emotions stripped away, fed to the machine.

 

White has an army under his control, an army that Black was once a part of. Before the Sleepwalkers had saved him. Recognizing their previous coworker, the Stalkers welcome him back to the Agency. They welcome him back to his “home” as a Stalker. There seems to be no way out for Black.

 

And then something happens. Something strange, mysterious and currently unexplainable as the Dreamweb is still so enigmatic, it’s quite impossible to tell the true limits of its power.

 

The Friend briefly appears, the musical arps taking over a more technological vibe to the song as he uses some sort of weapon to wound White, searing his skin. And just as quickly as he had appeared, The Friend departs, leaving Black alone with White and the Stalkers…

 

Mind.in.a.box – Pedro (7.5): Enter… Pedro?

 

This is the absolute hardest song to figure out how it fits in the narrative. Why? Well, there’s no lyrical analysis to be had. This song is all instrumental other than maybe a few vocals at the three-minute mark, but it’s practically impossible to figure out what they’re saying, if anything. That being said, the music in this song does stand out from the rest of the album, sounding more like something from THYX or off of the R.E.T.R.O. album. The song clearly needs more musical focus as opposed to the four surrounding it, which get away by having some exceptionally good additions to the narrative.

 

I’d describe the mood of this song as quite relaxing somehow. There are some more driving portions of the song near the end, but up until that point, it’s just a mysterious soundscape.

 

And then there’s the name Pedro. Where do I even begin? Seen only in the title of this song and nowhere else in the discography, I have to ask, who is Pedro? Whatever theory I come up with it will be impossible to determine whether or not it’s true unless the name shows up later in the discography with some more detail. But that hasn’t happened yet, and I have my doubts that it ever will.

 

My theory? Well, it is quite possible that Black has finally remembered his name. It’s ridiculous, I know, but it is a possibility, and you can’t tell me I’m wrong because he can’t remember his name as evidenced in Into the Night from Crossroads.

 

It makes sense narratively to have a song about Black between the Stalker’s beckoning him to rejoin the Agency and Black’s final stand against White. Speaking of which…

 

Mind.in.a.box – Shake-up (9): Enter Black.

 

Black is a Stalker no more. White no longer has control over him and he will never be loyal to the Agency again. Now is the time for ultimate redemption, the end of an arc as Black stands up to White and his legion of Stalkers, up on the roof of the building that had destroyed his memories. Black may have unknowingly been on the wrong side of the story as a Stalker in the first two chapters in this narrative, but over the last three (including this album), his life has changed completely, uprooted from what he once knew as truth and reality.

 

And now, standing before White, Black holds his ground steadfastly. He will not give up. He will not give in. His path in the future may not be perfect. His path to this moment wasn’t flawless either. But his actions have not damned him to failure. Just because he stumbles, that doesn’t mean he will fall. Until the end of his time, Black will stand up for the reality and truth that he has discovered with the Sleepwalkers in the Dreamweb. As the song concludes, Black gives on quiet speech before it all ends, now at peace with the past that had haunted him, the future that daunts him and the present in which he must fight for his memories

 

Now, he remembers.

 

Now, he knows the truth.

 

But the song comes to a strange end. Something that makes me uncertain of Black’s fate in this face-off. Despite the way this arc seems to end, Black seems to be absent in the next song, leaving White alone to… well, I’ll get into that in a bit. But it doesn’t quite make sense that Black would simply leave White alone after rising up to face him, dedicating his life to the future…

 

There’s one tone at the end that makes me worry…

 

A long tone that seems reminiscent of a flatline…

 

Black’s fate is uncertain…

 

Mind.in.a.box – 5ynchr0ni7e (9): Enter White.

 

With Black’s fate uncertain, it’s time for a shift in perspective. It’s time to take a closer look at the man who’s remained roughly enigmatic up to this point: White, Black’s employer, leader of the Agency, and controller of the Stalkers. So many questions have arisen about the Agency and their relationship to those that inhabit the Dreamweb. White has been chasing the Sleepwalkers for so long, but after losing control of Black, his search for a way into the Dreamweb grows ever more frantic.

 

It’s through this that we get a good look at White as a character. What kind of person runs the Agency and what thoughts must run in his head as he constantly takes the free will of others, turning them into Stalkers. He’s a man filled with regret and horror at what he has done. He is a man who fears that he will be found by the Sleepwalkers as much as he desires to find them. He is a man who is feared by all who work for him. He is a man who refuses to look at the face of a murderer, his own face. He is a man who dedicates everything he has to a cause. And right now that cause is unlocking the Dreamweb.

 

Thankfully, at the same time that he’d lost Black, the Agency was able to record and recreate the music that Black had heard in that club, the frequency of Mind.in.a.box. And so White has led a division of the Agency to conduct experiments on human test subjects to try and enter the Dreamweb.

 

It’s not working. Several lives have been lost already to this cause, but White cannot enter the Dreamweb. Not unless he knows the secret of synchr0n17ing with it…

 

Conclusion: There are several questions left unanswered at the end of this album. The fate of Black is still undetermined, though I believe his physically body has died, perhaps in a similar manner to how The Friend had killed himself back in the first album. But as we now know, the Friend is not dead. He’d survived death through the Dreamweb. And seeing as Black has entered the Dreamweb as well, it’s quite possible that he could do the same. The power of the Dreamweb is still relatively unknown.

 

But White desires that power. He vows to reach into it and destroy the Sleepwalkers who’d been evading him for so long.

 

It’s worth noting, that when I’d discovered Mind.in.a.box, this was the latest album. This was my cliffhanger, leaving me to wonder what was next in the struggle between the Agency and the Sleepwalkers. I had so many unanswered questions, some of which have been revealed since then.

 

But sometimes unanswered questions are good. It pushes me to dig deeper into the music. It pushes me to find as much information on this narrative as I can. And most of all, it makes me await somewhat patiently for the next chapter in this story.

 

You don’t have to wait though. Go ahead and listen to Broken Legacies right now! I won’t review it for a bit, but you can always listen ahead of me.

 

Final Score: (8.25/10)

Infected Mushroom – IM the Supervisor (2004 Album)

Album Links:

 

Bandcamp: n/a

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Because something goes wrong.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

This has happened before.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Final Score: (7.25/10)

Andy Hunter – Colour (2008 album)

Album links

 

Bandcamp: n/a

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

This has nothing.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Moving on!

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Final Score: (7.5/10)

Thyx – Super Vision (2014 album)

Album links

Bandcamp: n/a

Soundcloud: n/a

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

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

It just doesn’t quite fit.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Only if we work for it.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Waiting.

 

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

 

Most of the song…

 

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

 

Because there will be light.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

This song is simply pure.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Final Score: (7.5/10)

Daily Hat Tracks: June and July 2019

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

 

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

 

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

 

Daily Hat Track: June 2 (Veorra – Run)

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Daily Hat Track: June 10 (Rezonate – Canvas)

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Saxophone.

 

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

 

But saxophone.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Daily Hat Track: June 18 (Haywyre – Sculpted)

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Daily Hat Track: June 20 (Bicep – Rain)

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Daily Hat Track: June 25 (Koan – Coastline)

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Daily Hat Track: July 5 (Durs – Avalance)

 

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

 

Daily Hat Track: July 6 (BT – Tokyo)

 

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

 

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

 

Sometimes I wonder…

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Daily Hat Track: July 11 (Zimmz – Sinematic)

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

A: Good funky vibe

B: Nostalgia because dead community

C: Should listed to Wolfgang more

 

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

 

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

 

Daily Hat Track: July 17 (Bionix – Genesis)

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Beautiful suspenseful paranoid existential music is how I survive.

 

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

 

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

 

Daily Hat Track: July 23 (Malecka – Rhéa)

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Daily Hat Track: July 29 (Francys – Arcenial)

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

VNV Nation – Empires (1999 album)

Bandcamp: n/a

Soundcloud: n/a

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

Yeah, that’d be neat.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

All that matters right now is that moment of peace.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

And there are also lyrics.

 

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

 

Peace is out there. And with it, contentment.

 

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

 

Final Score: (7/10)

Varien – Pick Your Poison Vol 1 (2013 album)

Album Links

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Then nothing.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

And all it leaves behinds are scraps.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

But they’ll be back.

 

Hell is eternal.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

There’s no more time.

 

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

 

 

Final Score: (6.75/10)

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

Album links

Bandcamp: n/a

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

It’s in his mind.

 

The time for action is at hand.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

It’s time to take control.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

But that’s a story for another day.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

For now, it’s the Dreamweb.

 

The music is the key…

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Perhaps the memories shall fall into place as well.

 

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

 

Final Score: (8/10)