Cello Fury – Cello Fury (2011 album)

Introduction: It’s been far too long…


Four people. Three cellists. One drummer. That’s all Cello Fury needs to succeed. And despite the simplicity, this band is able to work wonders with their limited options in sound. And yet all of these songs are beautifully unique. This is Cello Fury, both the band name and the album title.


Cello Fury – Infinity Rises (7.75): Cello Fury plays at a variety of tempos and in a variety of moods. Sometimes opting for slower sweeping melodies, other times putting full effort into conserving high amounts of energy throughout the song. This song definitely falls under the latter category through and through, wasting almost no time to squander over the slower melodies, except for maybe 8 seconds near the middle of the song and a slight bit of the outro (though the drum solo more than makes up for the second somewhat slower portion). Also, there’s some hefty amounts of syncopation in many of the upbeat parts of the song. It’s been too long since I’ve reviewed some good syncopated music.


This song likely has some of the strongest bass of the album and many other songs in their discography. It always feels quite prominent, very rarely fully outshined by the other two melodic cellos. It doesn’t necessarily keep a fully consistent pace either, often upping and slowing its tempos depending on the current mood of the song.


The melodic cellos have an equal amount of energetic variety. Constantly switching between the quicker melodies heard straight from the beginning and some longer more sweeping notes that allow the beauty of the cello to seep in at other points. I’d choose a favorite part of the song if I could, but there’s such a good variety of joyfully played strings, that I’m uncertain if it’s possible for me to choose any moment over another.


This song is definitely a good introduction to the Cello Fury discography as many of the things I said in this portion of this review could also be applied to several other Cello Fury songs. And yet, it still feels as if it has its own little twinge of flavor somehow. Regardless, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Cello Fury.


Cello Fury – Against All Odds (7.5): Against all Odds starts off quite near silence with only one cello in the distance growing ever closer with time. As it nears my ears, the other two cellists begin to introduce themselves, lightly plucking their strings for a bit as the song culminates into a tense build-up. With a couple of louder sweeping notes serving as a transition to allow the star cellists of the moment to rapidly increase their speed as the song builds up past the introduction into the main body.


From this point onward, the melodies remain relatively balanced. No insanely rapid strokes like in the introduction, nor any moments where one cellist overdominates the rest. I don’t want to say it’s uneventful as it does have a decent variety of melodies throughout its duration, but I’m not really noticing too many moments that stand out from the rest of Cello Fury’s work. There is a moment a bit over 2 minutes where the cellos almost seem to fade out for a second which gives a nice bit of unique flavor to this song and there’s a decent slightly cinematic outro that serves well as the finale. But when push comes to shove, the introduction really was the best part of the song as the tension there served as the most noteworthy note of the three and a half minutes.


Cello Fury – Anarchy (7.75): Anarchy. Pure chaos. That’s what the title of this song describes. Would I describe the song as Anarchy itself? Well, not fully. I’ve heard some artists push the boundaries and break the rules in order to create chaotic tracks of pure anarchy, but Cello Fury is not one of them. That being said, in comparison to much of the rest of the album, Anarchy does eventually feel as if it somewhat deserves its title as, by the end, each cello is playing its own melody, creating an interesting cluster of different tempoed melodies, that somehow still fit together.


But that’s not how the song began. It actually, starts quite calmly with the cellos blending together to make a much more uniform melody. This introduction is quite beautiful to listen to and I’d be perfectly content if that’s what the rest of the song sounded like as well. But switching the song into a new upbeat gear is also quite a pleasant ride, though in entirely different mood consisting of the usual melodic variety. Like I’d mentioned earlier, there’s a bit more variety in the melodic mood even between the different cellos as they play together at the same moment. I think what interests me most about this song, however, is the texture. There are a couple of points where the cellists push their instrument to the limit, creating a harsher sound in comparison to the usual smoother notes that we’re used to. And I feel that these moments provide the flavor that is unique to this song in particular.


Cello Fury – Pins & Needles (7): Pins and needles are sharp little things. Which is quite fitting because this song is quite sharp itself.


Usually when I think of Cello Fury, I think of longer sweeping notes, but this song has none of that. Every single note here is plucked rather than strung. Even the drums, once introduced resonate longer than these short plucked cello notes. making it perhaps the most unique stand out song on the album. Is it better because of this?  Honestly, I’m not sure. Now this song is a good one and I do find it fascinatingly different from the rest of the album. But, in the end, my preference is still the sweeping cello notes.


There are the light strength of funkiness to the plucks, meaning this song is certainly the funkiest on the album at some parts. But in many cases, I prefer beauty over funk. This album is one such case.


Cello Fury – Daybreak (7.75): Ok that plucky little break was nice and all, but I think it’s time to get back into the more upbeat stuff. Daybreak is one of the best examples of upbeat Cello Fury (other than maybe the very first track of this album, which you already know all about or maybe the last track of the album, which you don’t know about). This is especially apparent at the beginning of the song as each cello comes in one at a time, each of them starting off with that rapidity that served as the most upbeat portions in several other songs. Not long after that, the song admittedly does slow down a bit with slower paced melodies and a casually paced drumbeat.


But that is a deception.


I am uncertain if I’ve actually had a chance to review any other song that does this yet, but over the course of the next thirty seconds, the drumbeat actually gradually accelerates over the next thirty seconds, picking up the pace of the melodies as it goes forward. It’s not quite like the many double tempo switch-ups I’ve expressed adoration for in the past. This involves a bit more unique subtlety, and in many cases, I like it even more. The slowness of this section is not only temporary, it’s merely there to serve the purpose of making the rest of the track appear that much faster.


From there on out, I’m not certain if I have much specific to say about the song. There’s some good melodic development as usual from Cello Fury and the three cellists do a great job of dancing around each other. There are a couple of points in the song where there’s a slight calm, but it never lasts excessively long, the song always longing to return to the full paced drumbeat, complete with either longer sweeping notes or the exact opposite with much more claustrophobically rapid notes. All up until a bit of an abrupt ending.


Cello Fury – Middle Ground (7.75): Like Pins & Needles, Middle Ground begins with some plucked notes across each cello. But unlike, Pins & Needles, these plucks don’t stay excessively long into the song, breaking way for a slightly rougher rising note that leads into the usual sway of Cello Fury. As usual the two higher cellos dance around each other throughout the song while the lowest cello works in the background as a bassline that holds the rest of the song up. Except, I feel that bass cello gets a bit more of a spotlight here than it usually does, especially with the song’s final moments as the bassline fully takes over quite strongly.


That’s not to say the melodies are bleak and unremarkable. The song seems to switch back and forth between two moods (outside of the beginning and ending of the song). The first of the two is a bit slower paced. The drums are going halftime and the notes strung by these cellos are longer and more flowing, allowing for a bit more simplicity. At many other points in the song, the song picks up pace with a greater variety of lightly energetic melodies. Oddly enough, there isn’t actually much “middle ground” between the slower and faster portions of the song, wasting very little time while transitioning between the two states (though usually not too abruptly; the bass cello makes for a good bridge between the two sides of this dichotomous song, remaining the constant, highlighted element this song has to offer.


And there I go talking about the bass cello again. Just goes to show how important this lower cello is in making this song work as well as it does.


Cello Fury – Silenced (7.5): Silenced is fittingly the calmest song that this album has to offer. And while I typically think of the more energetic tracks of theirs, I can’t help but find myself entranced by these Cello solos. Well, all three of them are playing at once, but they are admittedly playing without any assistance from the drummer for once.


As usual, the three cellists, blend their melodies together seamlessly, but I feel like this track in particular really highlights the beauty the three cellists are capable of creating. While the song doesn’t build in intensity and energy like the rest of the album. I’d most certainly say it grows in beauty. Every moment draws me deeper into this lovely piece of work. I honestly have very little to say about it other than how lovely it is, but sometimes that’s all it takes.


Cello Fury – Odyssey (8.5): Of all of the songs on the album, I feel like this one most closely fits the ideal vision I have of Cello Fury’s work. Several of the songs on this album have been energetic songs that I’ll happily listen to again and again, but Odyssey is the song that feels most like a journey through sound, which is quite fitting because an odyssey is defined as an epic journey.


Now while, the first forty seconds of this song may start out even calmer and closer to silence than Silenced itself, you shouldn’t be fooled. For that is only the first forty seconds. And as soon as those forty seconds are over, the song begins to pick up pace, slowly building up with the two upper cellos working in tandem to create a tense nerve wracking feel with the bass cello stabbing in the distance. As the song builds it begins to pick up more pace as it goes on, eventually breaking out into flowing melodies that conjure images of a ship swaying in the waves as it sails through an ever-increasing storm. It’s a magically glorious feeling that serves as my favorite minute of music that this entire album has to offer.


Throughout much of the rest of this song, these beautiful, yet varied, melodies take up most of its duration. Though there is a small bit in the middle of the second half that interrupts the flow with something a bit harsher. It’s a short interlude of synchronized stabs and I feel it leads to a great reminder of the intensity that this song had began with in its build-up. It’s a bit jarring, and yet it fits with the overall mood of the song, nonetheless. Just a slight bit of variety to enhance the flavor of the rest of the song before it returns to those beautiful flowing melodies for a finale.


Truly the most interesting song that this album has to offer.


Cello Fury – Down the Road (6.75): This song and the last two form a sandwich. A sandwich made of soft warm and relaxing bread with some nice spicy excitement packed in the middle. And while this slice of bread isn’t quite as soothing as Silenced. I mean it has a slight drumbeat this time, so you know it’s a slight bit more energetic. Just a slight though. It still is quite nearly as gorgeous with a more classical feel to it than much of the rest of the album (or at least compared to Odyssey). Unfortunately, this relaxing classical vibe also is rather riskless, which leaves me very little to talk about. It’s relaxing, but Silenced is more relaxing. It has some neat plucks here and there, but that’s Pins and Needles’ specialty. Like many of the songs in this album, the cellos weave in and out with one another to create a beautiful arrangement of complimentary melodies, but every song does that.


So, while Down the Road is a good song, it is also the least exceptional.


Cello Fury – Shockwave (8.25): Shockwave, however, if a fantastic example of the speedy skill of Cello Fury’s members. There’s a tension built in the first ten seconds of the song as each cello introduces itself with a longer note, eventually coming together for a chord before immediately capitalizing on the aforementioned tension by throwing the song immediately into the most rapid paced melody on the entirety of the album. A rushing feeling leading to the main body of the song, a conversation.


This conversation takes place between two of the cellos in particular, the midrange cello and the uppermost cello in pitch. Very rarely do the two cellos actually sing in unison, but instead find themselves tossing the focus back and forth, one cello playing the spotlit melody at a time, while the other cello backs them up. Because of this back and forth, Shockwave treats us to one of the most varied collections of melodies on the album (it’s either this or Oddysey). Every melody flows beautifully into the next, even when it seems that the two higher cellos are arguing for attention Also, because I’ve been ignoring the bass cello for so long I do want to mention that it has some great moments as well such as that note midway through the song that serves as a powerful transition from the musical conversation to the slightly more harmonious chorus.


But it’s the calming bridge that allows this song to become whole. Alone it simply serves as a break between the last chorus. One cello spreading long notes to serve as the structure holding up the other two. One cello plucking softly to keep with the calm atmosphere. And one cello above them all, playing a melody that beckons the other to join in and it’s here, in one final chorus that everything truly begins to come together, the two arguing cellos now playing in unison. A fitting finale to this song. A fitting finale to this album.


Conclusion: As I bring the first unscheduled review to a close, I find myself at a loss for words. I’m not speechless from amazement as it’s simply a good album, not a fantastic one like Andy Hunter – Life or THYX – Headless. I just feel that Cello Fury’s work is pretty self-explanatory. It’s a simple setup that happens to make some glorious magic in the form of this debut album and the other two that are currently in existence.


But I’ll get to those at a later date. I’ve got my eyes set on some more familiar artists for a while. In fact the next review contains a familiar song. A song that you will soon find very familiar.

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)

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

Bandcamp: n/a

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Final Score: (7/10)