Daily Hat Track Roundup: May 2019

As we transition into the months of summer and the whether finally starts to get nice where I live, it’s time to look back at all the songs I posted in May. I’ve already posted these all to Twitter, but it may be convenient to view this all in one place. So that’s what I’m doing right here.

 

 

Daily Hat Track: May 1 (Nigel Good & Illuminor – No Way Back Up): Second MC throwback of this Daily Hat Track catchup. I’d forgotten about Nigel until someone on MeWe reminded me. Now, I am basking in this song’s beauty. It’s a bit depressing too, but I like a tiny bit of depression now and then.

 

Daily Hat Track: May 2 (Killgrew – Hyakkimaru): Start out the day with some beautiful Killigrew. The piano in this one is the highlight, especially the chords. Though the Japanese trap vibe is interesting as well.

 

Daily Hat Track: May 3 (Karma Fields & Monarchy – Feint Echoes): Been listening to a lot of Karma Fields today and this one is certainly my favorite. Monarchy’s vocals make for a good tenor that I can stretch to my limits while singing along, and the drop is utter controlled madness. I love it.

 

Daily Hat Track: May 4 (Muzzy – Endgame): Very VERY bad idea to look at any replies to this one. I’m risking enough as it is just posting it, but the apocalyptic Endgame is one of Muzzy’s best so I must share it as Muzzy is another artist I’ve been listening to a lot lately

 

Daily Hat Track: May 5 (Kings of the City – Wrong (Muzzy Remix): Continuing with the Muzzy theme, here’s his best song, though Kings of The City’s lyrical content does influence my opinion. It’s a song about self doubt and existentialism and finding ones way in life. That’s what I like. Also DnB.

 

Daily Hat Track: May 6 (Wintergatan Valentine): Lovely driving bouncy Wintergatan track that I got enjoyed a slight bit excessively while on break at work. Just wish it was a little longer.

 

Daily Hat Track: May 7 (Covenant – I Close My Eyes): I don’t even care what the lyrics are (which is good because I’m currently too tired to decipher them). I just enjoy the relaxing futurepop vibes. Covenant is always do cryptic anyways.

 

Daily Hat Track: May 8 (Karma Fields – Who do You Want to Be (Part II): Who do I want to be? That question arises as I listen to this Skylinesque song from the most recent Karma Fields album. I’m not certain of the answer. It’s not my present self, but I believe I have the power to change that.

 

Daily Hat Track: May 9 (Thermostatic – Northern Ambulance): This very short and mysterious beauty ponders the beauty known as life and how it’s so mysterious and oh so very short.

 

Daily Hat Track: May 10 (Scatman John – Scatman (Game Over Jazz)): Great funky groove with scatsinging as always but this time there’s a saxophone. I love the saxophone.

 

Daily Hat Track: May 11 (Scatman John – Let it Go): Definitely my favorite from Scatman John. The second verse is especially a game changer in the search for self acceptance.

 

Daily Hat Track: May 12 (Vicetone – Home (Eminence remix)): Honestly not a huge fan of any of the involved artiste but this remix works quite well. Of course, self-reflective lyrics do help…

 

Daily Hat Track: May 13 (Veorra – Not Yet): Sometimes, you have to concentrate on the little things of today in order not to be overwhelmed by the mountainous plan that is the future.

 

Daily Hat Track: May 14 (DESERT STAR – Foreign Land): The latest volume of Monstercat Instinct was released today so I’ve been focusing my musical appetite on that mostly. Plenty of highlights. This one for example explores some of my favorite themes of the journey to find one’s self.

 

Daily Hat Track: May 15 (Hybrid – Falling Down): Was listening to some of Hybrid’s older stuff today and I found myself rediscovering this groovy tune (which of course has lyrics depicting the ceaseless chaos we get caught up in because I have some lyrical obsessions apparently).

 

Daily Hat Track: May 16 (Aviators & Lectro Dub – We are not Machines): Aviators and Lectro Dub go together like… I actually don’t feel like coming up with a comparison but they’re good I promise you. This is among the best of the collabs. Significant lyrical quality though Paralyzed is catchier.

 

Daily Hat Track: May 17 (Icon of Coil – Shelter): This song really takes me back to early 2016 when I had absolutely no clue where I belonged. I still don’t but things are better now I think.

 

Daily Hat Track: May 18 (Varien & Veela – Supercell): Varien recently has announced a new album sometime this year. I wonder if it’s possible for my favorite Varien song to be usurped.

 

Daily Hat Track: May 19 (Varien & Laura Brehm – Valkyrie): Long as I’m in a Varien mood, here’s another one of my favorites from way back. The beginning of a gorgeous trilogy.

 

Daily Hat Track: May 20 (Stonebank & Concept – Holding on to Sound): This song… I made a video focused on this song quite a while back. I’m not going to link it though. You have to find that for yourself.

 

Daily Hat Track: May 21 (Scattle – Pacemaker): The discovery I’ve been rocking to today would be Scattle’s Pacemaker. Good groove and plenty of hype within the track. You’ll need to get a pacemaker by the time this is over.

 

Daily Hat Track: May 22 (Celldweller – Switchback (Neuroticfish remix): I’ll be doing a full length review involving the original version of this song shortly, but for now, enjoy the absolute best transformative remix of this classic Celldweller tune.

 

Daily Hat Track: May 23 (Sakuzyo – AngelFalse): I’d discovered Sakuzyo yesterday, but that was after I’d posted that day’s hat track. So now I’m posting one of the songs I’d listened to yesterday today. Shoot, don’t have much room left to talk about the song. Um. Piano is good.

 

Daily Hat Track: May 24 (LukHash – Requiem for a Friend):  I know I’m a bit behind I’ll catch up over time but for now, here’s a cool cross between cinematic, chiptune and synthwave

 

Daily Hat Track: May 25 (Crazy Astronaut – Funky Shit 2014): This song with a slightly obscenely languaged title is just a plethora of nonstop energy. Just sitting here and listening to this song exhausts me in the best way. Then again I can’t exactly call it sitting here because I am boppin

 

Daily Hat Track: May 26 (Cello Fury – Tundra): Three cellists, one drummer. That’s all they needed to make this lovely track complete with a switch up near the middle that provides the song with a new energy right when it’s needed most.

 

Daily Hat Track: May 27 (Mr Fijiwiji & Openwater – Growing Up): One last beauty before sleep. Mr Fijiwiji paints some gorgeous melodies with that piano and I remember Openwater’s cries to escape loneliness resonating with 19 year old me. They still do.

 

Daily Hat Track: May 28 (Wintergatan – Marble Machine): Normally, I post a Spotify link as that’s the music listening platform I spend most of my time on, but this song resurfaced in my queue recently and it’s wrong not to post the music video for this masterpiece.

 

Daily Hat Track: May 29 (Stoneocean – Can’t Stand that Girl): I must share with you this catchy melody that I’ve had stuck in my head for the past 2 days. It’s good while listening to the song but it will not leave my head once it’s over. If I must suffer with this burden, then so should you.

 

Daily Hat Track: May 30 (Celldweller – Own Little World (Growling Machines remix): Going to be finishing up that Celldweller review I mentioned last week soon. So you can definitely expect that this Sunday. In the meantime, here’s an amazing psytrance remix of one of the best songs in the upcoming review.

 

Daily Hat Track: May 31 (Robert Delong & K.Flay – Favorite Color is Blue): I not only find this song ridiculously catchy, but I also find it to be a great vent for when regretful anger leads to depression. At least that’s the existential emotion I’m getting from this song. You know I read way too deep

 

Oh, and as always, you can check out all of the Daily Hat Tracks I’ve posted this year in the playlist below

 

https://open.spotify.com/user/beretbeats/playlist/4CIZYAQAzctqYqFG89HIv2?si=Mnl8CDT3TN2jxaJDZLCG7A

 

Celldweller – Celldweller (2003 album) Part 1 (original album)

Album links

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

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

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

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

 

Introduction: I was contemplating perhaps reviewing this 65-song album in one week just to make up for my inconsistent posting over the past month or two. However, like with Converting Vegetarians, that goal is just not feasible to do in one week. So I’ll be dividing this Deluxe album into three parts, one for the original release, another for the bonus tracks, and one final review for all the instrumentals. So, I hope you like Celldweller, because he’s taking over this site for the next three weeks.

 

And I haven’t even introduced him yet. Celldweller is one of the many aliases of Klayton, this one focused on a fusion of rock and electronic music. Other aliases include Circle of Dust (the band he started in, though the moniker was recently revived despite him releasing form it as a solo act), Scandroid (an entirely synthwave alias), Feqgen (I am the least familiar with this one, but it’s focused entirely on the electronics from my understanding), and Klayton (self-named alias that focuses on music resembling cinematic trailers).

 

But today, I’m focused solely on the Celldweller alias, which is my favorite of the five. I’ll probably branch out into the others eventually, but that won’t happen until quite far in the future. For now, let’s take a look at the solo debut of the Celldweller project.

 

That being said, this review is going to be a bit difficult. Like Ashbury Heights’ Three Cheers for the Newlydeads back in January, this debut album is a bit beyond edgy brushing very close on the line to topics such as suicide and self-harm. Again, these themes aren’t handled quite the best (though it is a bit better this time as there’s not as much glorification of the harmful behavior and thought patterns), so I want to make sure that I take care to handle them well while discussing these songs.

 

Celldweller – Cell #1 (6.25): Alright so we’re starting out with a short little introductory maybe storytelling track. Well, I know Klayton’s discography does have some vague story going throughout his discography but it’s nowhere near as immersive as my musical storytelling obsession: Mind.in.a.box. I’ll comment on it here and there, but most of the songs can be taken without any story.

 

And besides if there’s any story here, there’s no information given in the thirty seconds of its duration. There’s some ambience of a heavy duty door being locked tight and heavy breathing that keeps in tempo as the music transitions into the next song (Switchback). Who is this person breathing in beat? This person who seems resigned to dwell in a jail cell?

 

Oh… I get it…

 

 

Celldweller – Switchback (7.25): So if Cell #1’s main purpose is to transition from silence to Switchback, then how does Switchback stand up? Does it deserve the extra thirty second introduction to the song? Well, it is arguably Celldweller’s most popular songs though perhaps some of that has to do with it being the first thing people hear from him on the debut album. I can see why it stuck in people’s heads more easily than some of my preferred songs from Celldweller (not to mention it’s his most remixed song and has appeared in popular media countless times).

 

The vocals in Switchback are definitely its strength. I don’t often listen to much rock and so I rarely find songs with a rock-oriented vibe to be exceptionally catchy, but Switchback seems to be an exception. Perhaps because there’s a variety of vocal sections within them songs, most of them simple enough to worm their way into my head. And because they can associate together as one song, the individual melodic memories are strengthened by a bond of continuity within the song. They won’t leave my brain and I don’t quite mind. Though I will admit this has resulted in a joke between my brother and I involving singing the lyrics to this song at random points in completely different songs (usually Celldweller instrumentals). This has made the song a bit more difficult to take seriously, though I’ll try to do my best.

 

So, what do these ridiculously catchy vocals convey? Well despite how enjoyably fun this tune is overall, the lyrics are actually quite brooding, filled with regret. Well, they don’t really go in depth with the inner turmoil, but really, the entirety of the song can be summed up by the first line that doesn’t call out the title: “I made a choice that I regret.” Oh, and also the fact that this choice can’t be changed or altered. After all, there’s no way to Switchback.

 

Other than the vocals, most of Switchback’s music is less remarkable. Oh, it definitely has a good rock vibe, but outside of the bridge, none of it is exceptionally interesting. That sentence seems to imply that the bridge is exceptional. And it is, for it is in the bridge that the musical variety begins to match up with the vocal variety (only took half of the entire song to get to the eerie ambient section in which Klayton’s vocals are rerecorded to make him sound more like a broken man.  And to make up for lost energy, this calmer chorus is immediately followed by a solid electronic drumbeat and a bit of screaming. And after that, to make up for lost rock, there’s the most intense guitar riffs on the song along with the most fast-paced vocals on the song before we finish with another iteration of the chorus (as well as a syncopated DnB paced finale but eh I’ve said enough here).

 

Celldweller – Stay with Me (Unlikely) (7.5): Stay with Me is a little less familiar than Switchback. So, it doesn’t have super catchy lyrics to help. Also, this one focuses almost completely on the rock elements, which I usually enjoy most when fused with his electronic influences as it more of my main genre (everything electronic). There are a few synths here and there that

 

Also, the lyrics are a bit unfortunate to follow one of the pitfalls that hampered my opinion on Three Cheers for the Newlydeads (an odd album I find myself comparing this one to but that’s what happens when two of my favorite artists have edgy debuts). Thankfully, Celldweller doesn’t glorify the darkest depths of Ashbury Heights (for the most part, there’s a certain song I want t but instead opts to focus on a slightly toxic relationship. The paradoxical contrast between Celldweller begging the listener to stay with him in the chorus and only ten seconds later he declared he’s rather the listener go away in the edgy screaming bridge. It’s possible that this is more representative of the confliction that Celldweller has as his mind seems to be torn apart by his own mental enemies distorting his mind into a nihilistic depression… Maybe that deserves some focus as well before I go and decide that). this song is toxic

 

In addition to the external conflict of whether or not Celldweller needs company through his inner turmoil, this song also takes a look at the inner turmoil itself in the blinkandyou’llmissit verses. The first half of these verses seem to resemble some form of tripped out rap as Celldweller is in distress over the intrusive thoughts that push him down into the darkest depths. The thoughts aren’t permanent, but when they’re there, they trap him in a socially destructive state. He pushes those close to him away and is left alone with the existential thoughts that tear down his soul as he observes the never-ending passage of time (which, I’ll remind you, cannot be switched back).

 

…Ah shoot, I’m beginning to think I was jumping the gun there with that first bit of lyrical analysis. The paradox makes all the more sense as this vulnerable state of existentialism is simultaneously lonely (A desire to keep others close in order to feel human again) and volatile (a desire to keep others at a distance so they don’t infect others with their negativity). It’s still a toxic line of thinking and that it would be best to go immediately for the first choice if you can, because the second choice will only make you feel more empty…

 

That got deeper than I expected. Well played Klayton.

 

Celldweller – The Last Firstborn (6): The Last Firstborn is another one of the more popular Celldweller songs. Not as big as Switchback or Frozen (review that in a bit, but definitely on the upper half of popularity when it comes to songs on this album. I’m quite mixed on it. On one hand, the music in here is fantastic, making it one of the best instrumentals the Deluxe album has to offer. On the other hand, well, there’s a reason I hold the instrumental so much more highly above the original, but I’ll get to talking about what the instrumental doesn’t have in a second.

 

For now, let me just take a second to appreciate the outstanding music in this one. I feel like this song does one of the best jobs on the original album of integrating both the rock and the electronic elements on the album. Hard to decide if it’s this or a certain other song (which happens to be this album’s highlight) that does better at using both sides of Celldweller, but this is great regardless. The song constantly bounces back and forth between rock with underlying electronic and electronic with underlying rock. Neither genre fully takes hold at any point in the song, but they also each get their own moments to shine, be it the intense guitar riffs fused with a rumbling distorted bassline to the upbeat techno progression that dominates during the chorus (though the same guitar riffs are still present if you listen for them).

 

This song is fantastic when it comes to its music.

 

The lyrics on the other hand, are pushing for maximum edginess for Celldweller. This song is what pushed me over the edge to decide that this deserved the same warning as Three Cheers for the Newlydeads (though there’s a later song that takes this to true maximum edgieness). The entire song, the lyrics are playing on the edge between life and death and there are several points in the song that really go over the edge. There’s explicit mentions of playing with razor blades and knocking on death’s door as well as implicit statements saying “This isn’t worth it” and “I wish it didn’t end this way.” These ideas paired with the violent imagery with the fast-paced vocals of the chorus makes for what I believe to be one of Celldweller’s darkest songs. It still gets an above average rating as the darkness isn’t enough to truly overcome the exceptional instrumental. I can’t help think of how much better the song would have been if it the lyrics were eliminated. Gee, I sure wish that were possible… Well, I’ll talk about that again in two weeks

 

Celldweller – Under My Feet (5.5): Alright, time to explore a side of Celldweller we haven’t seen quite yet. Well, we have seen his rock side overall, but this song is a bit softer than the other songs on this album so far. The more heavily distorted guitar takes a backseat to something more acoustic for the first half of this song. And it’s a refreshing gasp of fresh air that allows the song to build back into the more intense rock as the song progresses. Yeah that build in intensity does prevent the song from fully abandoning the intensity of Celldweller, but it still remains rather calm in comparison to the majority of his discography. The tone of the guitar is the spotlighted development in this track but there are several other pieces of the puzzle that help the guitar on its journey. The drums for example start out quite soft and experimental at the beginning of the song before being overtaken by a more prominent and steadier drumbeat. The background vocals also get more intense over time, starting as a distant whisper in the beginning to some louder melodic chanting alongside the main vocals. Really, this entire song, outside for the final few lines where the song drops out to its starting state, i just one big build-up. And it works.

 

Too bad some of the lyrics hold it back. As far as the lyrics go, Under My Feet is a song of brooding. The song starts out contemplating suffering and loneliness similar to the feelings expressed two songs ago in Stay with Me (Unlikely). This song goes even further into the inner turmoil, focusing on the despair that he feels at the bottom of that pit the mental enemies have pushed him into. Even when he tries to get himself out, he finds that saying he must get out isn’t going to guarantee him an escape (which is true, you have to work for it). He envies those who have found more reason to live than he. He desires to be more like them…

 

And then the whole message falls apart at the end. Trying to mirror the first stanza of the song, Celldweller seems to spitefully wish for the downfall of those he envies. He never finds his way out of the pit. He just wishes everyone he knows to come down with him, and while I agree that in one way or another, everybody gets depressed, that doesn’t mean those that are already down emotionally should strive to bring those around them to the same level. Wouldn’t the more sensible thing to do be to strive to enjoy your own life? I guess it’s just easier to spread negativity than to take the tumultuous road that will eventually lead to living peace.

 

Again, this song suffers from good music and bad lyrics. Though it’s not as strong on either end (Last Firstborn had better music and worse lyrics). The end result is the same.

 

Celldweller – I Believe You (6): Alright. Back to the electronic rock fusion. It’s still mostly rock but, there are a few parts of the song that are definitely more electronic. There’s a great break from the rock at the minute mark that has a singular groovy bassline and some strings accompanying those sick syncopated drums. There’s also a bit of electronic texture added to the bridge at the 2-minute mark. Other than that, the song only takes a break from the rock portions for a quick moment before the chorus (harkening back to the chiller emotion at the beginning of the last song). Without the electronic elements, the song is pretty ok. It doesn’t have too much to offer for most of the song. The short melody played right before the chorus is understandably involved in the chorus but other than that the song is just alright.

 

The lyrics are a bit more cryptic than usual. The main theme is certainly blind faith, but whether or not the faith is a good thing is somewhat uncertain. He keeps saying it’s alright, but he might be somewhat of an unreliable narrator, manipulated by the one he trusts…

 

That sounds like something Celldweller would do. He can be a bit toxic sometimes, especially in his early days.

 

Celldweller – Frozen (5.75): Frozen is another powersong in Celldweller’s debut. Not quite as popular as Switchback, but still quite iconic to his discography. Not only is it not as well-liked with the general public, it’s not quite as well-liked by myselg. While Switchback had some great dynamic portions near the end, Frozen is pretty much the same throughout. Now the sameness of Frozen is better than the lowest in Switchback I’ll admit it. The slower syncopated tempo works quite well and there’s some decent simple electronic melodies that are present throughout. There is a bit of variation at the bridge again like there was in Switchback, but it isn’t unique enough to capture my attention like the woman in this song captures Celldweller’s attention.

 

The lyrics are… weird. The more I listen to it the more sexual it gets. The whole tone of this song with the little side female vocals (let’s go) to more obvious declarations of open legs. I think I was just distracted the first time in this song by the “frozen point in time” line (I love weird time shenanigans), that I didn’t realize the true seductive nature of this song… I kind of prefer time shenanigans. Sex is a much less interesting topic in my opinion. Plus, there’s a weird darker vibe to the song, that makes the whole scene fee lifeless, cold, frozen. And I’m pretty sure that’s not quite the mood you want to set for possibly reproductive activities.

 

Celldweller – Symbiont (5.75): It’s funny how some of the best musical songs have the most uncomfortable lyrics. This isn’t quite to the level of The Last Firstborn (which was the perfect fusion of the pillars of Celldweller’s style) but there’s still several great parts of the song. This song, while almost entirely rock-focused consistently bounces back and forth between the quicker syncopated tempos in the introductions and the slower half-time section in the verses and chorus of “dancing on a thin line.” Not to mention the guitar in the first prechorus, which while not complex perfectly matches the energy that Celldweller commits to for a good portion of the song.

 

Unfortunately, these lyrics are rather disappointing. We’re back to the toxic relationship themes. Never really understood why this is such a popular theme. If you hate the person, you’re romantically involved with then such a relationship should be ended, not glorified. If Celldweller wants to go, then he doesn’t have to stay. Really, the entire idea of staying in a toxic relationship is a bad trend in lyrics that needs to phase out, but it seems to be a theme we’re stuck with.

 

Unless of course we take the route I took with Stay with Me and transform this toxic relationship into a much more interesting struggle. A struggle of self. Oh, it’s still a toxic dynamic, but at least the resistance of leaving is a bit more understandable. It’s increasingly difficult to separate the core of one’s self from the toxic pieces of our identity that we’d rather be rid of. How can you stop feeding the symbiont of your soul when it’s constantly sucking the life out of the more beneficial (or at least benign) parts of your soul.

 

Of course, I’m probably reading too deep into the internal struggle side of things and partaking in a confirmation bias to appreciate the song more than I would otherwise.

 

Celldweller – Afraid this Time (8): Back to the chiller side of Celldweller. This song begins with a rather trippy intro but soon develops into some of highest quality chill this album has to offer. My guess is that the combination of the acoustic guitar and the piano has something to do with my enjoyment. Plus, a bit of electronic bass to give it a slight bit more energy without overbearing the calmer mood that the rest of the song demonstrates (at least for the first half). There’s also a rather enjoyable glitchy effect on the vocals that gives the song the perfect amount of unsettling for a song about fear.

 

The song does get a bit more intense in the second half as the tempo increases a bit and the wobbly bass does eventually take the spotlight, but it doesn’t necessarily feel intrusive. And the bridge definitely gives a great spotlight on the harder side of the guitar to contrast with the acoustic melodies from earlier. While I think I do enjoy the first half of the song a bit better, the second half does work just as well.

 

As for the lyrics, it’s a bit more cryptic than the usual adapting a vague message if any. But that might work for the song. It seems that there are some references to a dichotomy between struggling to overcome one’s fears and realizing that no matter what you do, the fears will continue to linger. The singer repeatedly mentions that he’s afraid, but he also makes sure to make it clear that his undefined opponent (be it person, problem or idea) can no longer touch him. Honestly this is a great balanced message admitting that fear isn’t easily eliminated but it doesn’t have to rule one’s life.

 

Celldweller – Fadeaway (8.5): Now this song has an interesting variety to it. My favorite songs on this album either switch back and forth between either electronic and rock vibes or between the calmer acoustic sound and the harsher distorted guitar sections. This song, for the most part relies on the latter though there a few very welcome electronic instruments added in there (as that’s my preferred genre). I think I’ll go more in depth on the variety when I review the instrumentals of this album (there’s a DnB portion so you know I like it), but for now, I feel it is necessary to mention the relationship between the vocals and the music in the first section of this song.

 

The most evident relationship between these two is the way the song switches back in forth in intensity depending on which mood the verses at the beginning are displaying at any given moment. If we’re looking at the cleaner vocals, the song takes a step back and focuses just on the underlying bassline. But when the song switches back and forth to the more intense distorted vocals, the music follows suit adding some great guitar solos into the mix. This is once again reflected in the song’s coda as the first three lines focus on some gritty vocals with a rock backing to back it, but that last cleaner line begins just as everything else ends. Making a satisfying conclusion to the song.

 

Also, worth mentioning are the two stylistic bridges that give a quick break form the rest of the song. The first concentrating on the quickest electronic syncopated tempo of the song (you know I like DnB) and the second focusing on an acoustic section that resembles many of the other calmer songs this album has to offer. You could actually consider said bridge to be a build-up from nothing thought it doesn’t seem to reach the same intense heights as the rest of the album contains. It’s worth noting that again the intense bridge contains lyrics of a more intense gritty variety , while the second bridge focuses a lot more of the calmer cleaner vocals

 

But enough of talking about vocals and their relationships with the rest of the song, what message are these lyrics explaining. Well, fadeaway sounds rather defeatist which is a slight bit of a shame as any moment in the song that doesn’t focus on the nihilism connected to ones flaws, there’s a very humble bit of inspiration there. First, there’s the admittance of the flaws are there and they present the duality of isolating ones self to hide ones flaws (only friend) and getting caught in ones flaws until they overwhelm one’s life (worst enemy). While the balance of this song does tip towards the negativity, there does seem to be a humble bit of positivity in there that allows for a nontoxic self-reflection.

 

But you know what sometimes, that’s just the way the mind acts. Sure, it isn’t healthy to assume that life is over and done as soon as you realize your flaws. But definitely is a relatable feeling. Just don’t stay there forever.

 

Celldweller – Cell #2 (6.25): Another short Cell song. This one being an intermission rather than an introduction. There’s much less visual ambience in this one as it just focuses on being overly creepy while giving a bit of narration on feeling lost and trapped within this cell that serves as the main theme of this album. One’s sense of self and memories of the past can become distorted when one traps themselves in negativity. Had joy ever existed? Will it ever exist again? The hope is that the answer to that last question is yes

 

 

Celldweller – So Sorry to Say (8): What makes So Sorry to Say unique within the Celldweller discography (or at least within this album) is definitely its incorporation of strings. From the very beginning of the song the strings hog the spotlight whenever they’re present. There’s some points where it holds equal ground with a piano, but other than that, any instrument that attempts to stand out while the strings are in place will merely be pushed back into the background by the superior instrument.

 

However, the strings don’t stay relevant for the entire song. For example, there’s a few points in the song (1 minute mark, 2.5 minute mark and 4 minute mark respectively), that have an incredible focus on the more electronic side of Celldweller. Seeing that electronic is my preference and that these sections also include some syncopation, it’s clear that I find these parts of the song to be rather enjoyable. During these sections the song switches back and forth between using a wobbly bassline and giving some silence (for lyrics in the former two sections). However, it’s just that wobbly electronic bassline that goes silent. There’s also a bass guitar that picks up the slack, present throughout each section in its entirety.

 

There are also a few rock portions intermittent throughout the song in between those favorite upbeat syncopation sections. Most strikingly is the intensity that this song decides to use as we build up for that final syncopated section. I don’t have especially much to say about this short little rock section. Just wanted to highlight its greatness that the rock has for a grand finale (before the song takes a step back into the minimalism with just the drums, strings and pianos backing up the vocals (no basslines of any sort, guitar or otherwise).

 

So that’s plenty of focus on the music, what do I feel about these lyrics. This song seems to follow some of the main themes of this album, depression and isolation, especially that last one. Throughout the song, Celldweller questions why he pushes away those he cares about, especially during his most desperate times. It’s a paradox that’s highlighted quite well Ii this song’s chorus as Celldweller constantly switches back and forth between begging the person in question to leave him before his depression infects their mood, while also begging them to stay as he needs them for support. A paradox that plagues many depressed moments.

 

Yeah, both this and Stay with Me (Unlikely had the same theme, but there’s no reason that there can’t be two songs about this conflict of emotions. And I think I like this one better anyways thanks to musical enjoyment.

 

Celldweller – Own Little World (9): There’s always one song on an album that just sticks out above the rest, and when it comes to Celldweller’s self-titled debut album, this is clearly that song. It has great quick -paced DnB vibes as far as the tempo goes, as well as a decent fusion of electronic and rock (though rock clearly takes the forefront this time). And while that’s not my main genre, it’s still well executed, and the electronic influences give it enough flavor to stand out among many of the other mostly rock tracks on the album.

 

Plus, there’s some things in this song that are quite unique. The vocal manipulation provide for a great variety compared to the simple dichotomy between clean and gritty most songs have. Now there’s simple distortion as well as robotic distortion. And there’s also two levels of gritty vocals, so that makes for at least five different vocal accents within the song. I say at least, because there’ possibly one or two more I missed, I think there’s some whispers in the second half of the chorus, but I’m not certain.

 

Ah well, it doesn’t matter exactly how the vocals are presented (though again, the variety is appreciated). What truly matters to me is the message the vocals present. And this one follows the theme of isolation in a much more confident manner, with no hint of negativity within its chorus and only minimal struggles within the verses, though those mostly serve as a drive to creating one’s own little world, a state of mind that one can use to escape the chaos that plagues life as long as you let it take a hold. But slipping into a world of peace and attempting to let it become one’s reality can provide a chance to improve one’s life greatly. Of course, use of one’s own little world must be used as a rest more than a permanent escape (stagnancy is not a healthy way to escape the chaos), but there’s still something quite invigorating about finding an escape from the chaos (my personal escape is music and writing, which is somewhat why I created this blog in the first place).

 

Celldweller – Unlikely (Stay With Me) (7): Huh. The title of this song seems oddly familiar. As does the guitar riff at the beginning, though I think that those two familiarities are for entirely different reasons. Well, within context of this album review the title situation is quite obvious. About half the album ago, there was another song titled Stay with Me (Unlikely). So, don’t get them confused. Stay with Me (Unlikely and Unlikely (Stay With Me) are two entirely different songs

 

As for the guitar riff at the beginning of the song, I can’t help but feel like the familiarity has to do with the similarities between this riff and the one at the beginning of Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit. Am I going crazy? I had this same issue with Ashbury Heights’ Penance and Megalovania a while back, though at least this similarity makes sense as the famous song in question (Smells Like Teen Spirit) was released over a decade before the song in my review (Unlikely (Stay with Me)). Still, it feels weird to notice this connection.

 

Anyway, onto reviewing the actual song, the title does indicate that this song is somewhat of a twisted reprise of Stay with Me (Unlikely). I can see somewhat of a resemblance. There are some similar themes with the paradox of desiring company and also desiring time alone. And I believe this version rips its lyrics directly from the chorus of the former. The only thing is it omits a good chunk of those lyrics and twists what’s left around before resinging them. So while this song is certainly connected to Stay with Me (Unlikely), it feels like a completely different song.

 

But this different song is certainly a good one, complete with a good simple, apparently Nirvana-esque guitar riff (both of a rock and acoustic variety), a few vocal chops here and there, and a decent section near the end involving some heavier guitar riffs and a simple electronic synth melody, painting a simple picture of the line between rock and electronic that Celldweller strides upon.

 

No lyrical analysis here, just go back to Stay With Me (Unlikely) as I’d just repeat myself if I took a shot here.

 

 

Celldweller – One Good Reason (1.5): Alright, it looks like it’s time for some extreme rock with some screaming vocals. Nothing clean and clear here. How do I feel about that? Well, if I’m being perfectly honest, I’m not a fan and it does hurt this song a slight bit more than it would if the song was a bit cleaner. Don’t get me wrong, the high tempo and the overall incredibly intense tone does have its upsides. It’s just a little bit too much here.

 

And the lyrics? Well, this is the edgiest most suicidal song on the album, and I am not at all a fan of that theme. Gets straight to the point. The singer can’t think of one good reason to continue living. I’m really not sure what else to say about the song itself. It’s a toxic mindset and it refuses to budge from that. I think I’ve made my stance against suicide clear in previous reviews (several times in Three Cheers for the Newlydeads. There’s always potential in the future, regardless of the lot one’s given in the present. That’s my reason. And I believe it’s a rather good one.

 

Celldweller – The Stars of Orion (7): The Stars of Orion is… a different song. Not saying it’s bad. I actually quite enjoy it, but it really doesn’t fit at all within this album, perhaps even within Celldweller’s entire discography. Now, I feel the main factor that separates this from most of Celldweller’s works is how instrumental it is. I’m of course not counting all of the Instrumentals Celldweller places on his Deluxe albums. Those are an entirely different story and even this song has an instrumental version later on, as there are some minimal lyrics but they blend in a bit with the creepy atmosphere this song provides.

 

Lyrics aside, this song is entirely about the atmosphere it creates anyway. Two unique lines of lyrics aren’t going to change anything. Here let me quickly wrap them up: this song is about going far away… that’s it. Congratulations. You now understand what this son is about. You might not know of the ambient environment this song creates as the vocals set in. You might not know of the edgy DnB drumbeat that overtakes the song soon after it starts. You might not know of the guitar riff that continuously brings the drums in and out of focus. You might not know of the song’s conclusion resembling atmospheric bookend to match the song’s introduction

 

But at least you know that this song is about going far away do there’s that.

 

Celldweller – Cell #3 (6.5): The Cell door opens.

 

Our Celldweller awakens from torturous slumber

 

Forever wounded, voice distorted to a state of inhuman lack of emotion

 

The end is near.

 

Celldweller – Welcome to the End (6.75): The end is here.

 

Welcome to The End slows down for its ending, making it the only song that’s truly calming the entire way through. Kind of strange to hear Celldweller without all of the heavy energetic guitars and basslines, but then again, that’s what the entirety of his Offworld album is like (which contains one of my favorite songs of all time, but we’ll talk about that one far into the future). This song takes on an almost entirely ambient vibe with what I believe are the sounds of whales accompanying the simple drumbeat and occasional guitar melody. It’s quite an interesting and refreshing vibe compared to the rest of the album.

 

Continuing off of the desire to “go someplace far away from here” from Stars of Orion, this song is a song of leaving. A song that continues that desire to leave the present behind and look to the future. This song ads a few more lyrics to surround that idea, albeit those lyrics are a little bit cryptic in their connection to going far from here. So, I wouldn’t say this one goes more in depth. More like it attaches a strange love story plotline in which one lover welcomes the other home before they embark on a journey, leaving their home behind. Their destination is unclear, though it sounds like the destination isn’t the purpose.

 

The purpose is to escape.

 

Because there is a voice. A small whisper. But even the smallest whisper can hold all the destruction required to break a man.

 

“Welcome to the End”

 

Conclusion: Or that would be the end, if the deluxe album didn’t have 18 more songs and a couple dozen instrumentals to go through. But I think this is a good place to stop for now. Celldweller is a divisive album for me, maybe not to the level as Three Cheers cor the Newlydeads (overdone comparison is overdone), but it does have a mixture of some fantastic songs and some songs that suffer greatly from their lyrics. But most of the album resides in the middle of that range between 5 and 7.

 

Anyways, join me next time as I tear into a few bonus songs added into the deluxe version of the album (released ten years later), as well as some remixes of the most iconic songs and a few demos of tracks that hadn’t quite made it into the public prior.

 

Final Score: (6.5/10)

THYX – Below The City

Album links

Bandcamp: n/a

Soundcloud: n/a

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/7jwiiOaHaRDQsQCGhAEo9a?si=OIc15JgSSPa9T_cA8EfgPA

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_nGsYb4-1vHXJdUS5DVl-wjviN9Xva9GVU

 

Introduction: Let us continue with the Mind.in.a.box side project known as THYX.  In a Mind.in.a.box review, I’d skip the whole introduction thing and go straight for a summary, but THYX is different. As far as I can tell (I could always be missing something), the THYX discography has no overarching story of its own and it certainly isn’t connected to the Mind.in.a.box universe (at least not directly. Maybe there are some obscure connections I don’t realize). Narrative or no narrative, Poiss always delivers when it comes to great music, even on THYX albums such as this one.

 

THYX – Searching (8): First song on the album and we’re already off to a good start. Searching brings a good amount of energy to the table with its significant drive and significant focus on the basslines. Considering the fact, that Poiss is typically the master of arps, this song stands out a bit among much of the rest of the Mind.in.a.box and THYX discographies. Not saying it’s the best song (Redefined already took that spot with its 10/10), but it’s definitely different with its energetic approach to a variety of basslines.

 

Other than its focus on the bassline, Searching has several other elements to offer: a couple of simple melodies dot the track here and there. It’d nothing to write home about but it does add a slight bit of melodic flavor to an otherwise non-melodic song. There’s also some great variety near the end of the song as the song explores a new chord progression in comparison to the rest of the song (which was slightly growing repetitive at that point, so the variety is very much welcome). There’s also some grittily distorted vocals in there. Speaking of which…

 

The search that this song centers on is an introspective search for life’s meaning, an enigma that has drowned minds across humanity for endless generations. We spend so much tine digging down into the depths of our minds trying to conjure up some meaning as day after day leads us closer to our end. We search our past and expected future for any trace of an answer. We desire a safe place where we can feel complete. But such a place isn’t something one can just happen upon. I believe you must make such a place for yourself.

 

My personal introspections and worldviews aside, this song wouldn’t be that out of place thematically in Black’s cyberpunk noir journey, though I can see how Poiss decided it wouldn’t quite tell the story he wanted, which is why it likely got retooled to become a THYX song, and a very good one at that.

 

THYX – The Endless Journey (8.5): Taking a step back from the energy of Searching we have, the slightly slower- paced Endless Journey. Not that the song suffers from this decrease in tempo and intensity, it merely excels in a different flavor of Poiss’ expertise. I think I do prefer Searching as this song does’t have quite the same variety as the introductory song. There’s a bit more highlight on a slow arp and a decent guitar solo near the end, but the former isn’t exactly exceptional for Mind.in.a.box/THYX standards and the latter is quickly overpowered by the arp so it doesn’t truly get a chance to shine like it could have.

 

However, this song does have an overwhelming strength that Searching can never measure up to. What’s better than a song focusing on the search for life’s meaning? A song that actually attempts to decipher the significance of this endless journey we call life. Well, there is an end, but sometimes it’s easy (and preferable) to forget about that little complication we call death… Until then, let’s explore all the intricacies in Poiss’ emotionally driven lyrics of The Endless Journey

 

There is almost too much to go over when it comes to this song’s lyrics. That doesn’t hamper the song’s quality at all as I quite enjoy the rapid-fire variety of ideas thrown in my ears’ direction. It’s just difficult to write about all that in a review. So, let me just give a quick rundown of some of the many themes this song includes. There’s the balance of ignorance and bliss and how to receive the latter without relying on the former. There’s the struggle to upkeep the happiness and contentment that has a tendency to fade as we grow older. There’s mention of the constraints of general every day living that make it difficult to break free and follow one’s own individual goals. And then there’s a general fear of the future and the unknown and how we must overcome it. My short synopsis doesn’t do this song justice. Listen to it for yourself.

 

THYX – Network of Light (7.5): Network of Light is a fantastically interesting song. It’s a bit more cryptic in comparison to some of the other songs on the album but crypticism works quite well for the THYX style so there are no single complaints. This song masters that cryptic nature by beginning the song with an almost threateningly deep voice demanding you to survive. Yeah, I was planning on surviving and I think I’m still going to go through with that plan, but I could do without this particular flavor of reinforcement. Ah, who am I kidding, I love the creepier edgy side of music. Bring the darkness on!

 

And that’s the odd thing about this song. Despite having the world “Light” in the title, this song, at least tonally, is awfully dark. This is especially noticeable in the beginning with the threat of not dying and the distant smooth bass soon overwhelmed by the slightly harsher (and much more prominent) bassline that accompanies the threatening vocals I have been repeatedly mentioning. And while the rest of the song (excluding reprises of those specific vocals that I’ve been repeatedly mentioning) doesn’t really contribute much to the darkness, it doesn’t really do much to provide much light to the song either. The chorus does have some calmer pads, but these sections are only light in comparison to that vibe the song starts with.

 

Am I complaining that a song that falsely advertises itself as light? Oh no, not at all, I quite enjoy this song despite its darkness. In fact, I could argue that I enjoy the song because of its darkness. I’m not the most happy-go-lucky guy after all. A bit of edge is quite pleasing in my opinion. That’s what this song has for the musical portion of this review. The lyrical portion, however, is a bit more cryptic. It sounds as if this song is being sung by a personified network of light, an AI that’s attempting to reach out to an unknown person. If this were canon to the Mind.in.a.box story, I’d say it was Black due to mentions of erased memories, but even if there is no narrative connection (and I’m pretty sure there isn’t), this song is simply enjoyable to take in for its instrumentation alone.

 

THYX – The Street (7.25): Continuing on with the personification then, we have The Street. But I’m getting ahead of myself. We need to take a moment to appreciate the nonlyrical elements of this song too. This song has its strengths and weaknesses when it comes to its more instrumental sections. The weakness? Well it doesn’t really have as prominent of a mood as some of the other songs, especially the introductory energy of Searching and the surprisingly ominous mood of Network of Light. Tonally, it’s more on par with The Endless Journey which only got its high rating due to its lyrical content. Ok, perhaps it’s a bit better than that. After all, this song does have a few sections that allow it to stand above an instrumental version of The Endless Journey (not that that exists, just trying to take lyrics out of the equation for a brief minute).

 

First off, let’s take a look at two of the continuous elements that are prominent throughout the entirety of this song’s stay. First off, there’s the echoing pair of drums that are introduced at the very beginning of the song. This percussive duo gives the song a slightly cinematic flavor, allowing for the rest of the song to feel a bit more powerful than it would without. Secondly, there’s the bassline that plays funky pairs of notes underlying the rest of the track, giving the song a slight groove to compliment the cinematics of the drumbeat.

 

One other part of the song, I’d like to highlight is only there for a small section of the song leading into the second verse. It’s the piano. Really, the main reason the piano stands out is because you only get the occasional Poiss song with the piano so it comes in as a treat that differs a bit from the songs that are almost completely technological. This melody just does a great job of climbing up and down in pitch that makes it stand out even more prominently among even the other piano tracks.

 

As for the lyrics on this personified street… Well, I pretty much summed up a good overview of the lyrics right there, didn’t I? But can we go even more in depth to who this street is. Well it seems to be a very supportive personified roadway, which is good, because I’d hate for the street to collapse under my weight. That’d mighty inconvenient. It’s also worth noting that there’s a huge emphasis on how the target of this song (hey let’s just assume it’s Black again, why don’t we? I don’t care if its canon or not) finds themselves in a safe place on this street. Kind of interesting how this calls back to Searching. It seems that the safe place has been found. It’s out on this conscious street.

 

THYX – Hate (8.25): Hate is a strong word. At least that’s what I was always told as a child. Of course, now that my vocabulary has grown, I’ve learned that there are even stronger words than hate such as despise, loath and abhor. But there’s something about hate, that’s so simple and pure. Well, as pure as such a negative emotion can get. Because when you boil right down to it, hatred is hatred regardless of how strong.

 

I’m getting distracted. I love pulling apart the smallest things sometimes, but my opinion of this song isn’t going to be defined by the definition of hate. Instead, I think it would be best to judge the song based on the actual musical and lyrical content. Thankfully, for Hate, I quite enjoy a lot of what this song has to offer, and I consider it to be one of the best songs on the album. And I can’t just attribute my enjoyment to just the music or just the lyrics. This is a very well-rounded song in which everything contributes to its excellence.

 

The beginning of this song serves as an important introduction to the dark mood that emanates through much of its duration. Unlike Network of Light, the darkness actually fits this song’s title (again nothing wrong with Network of Light, THYX’s surprisingly common false advertising is forgivable at least 75% of the time). Not only does this song have a stronger thematic connection to darkness, but even if you take the music out of context form the lyrics and song title, the song sounds simultaneously vibrant and ominous. The bassline is the mastermind behind this all, underlying every moment of the song from the very beginning, especially in the beginning, as it’s nearly the only rumbling sound present for the first half a minute or so (some soft drums in there too, but not the song’s main drive).

 

The song’s main drive comes in around a minute in, allowing for the bassline to spread its flavor quickly through the track, transforming itself into both an arpeggiated bassline as well as some longer notes that give the bass a more clearly defined progression. And later in the song, there’s some harsher stabs from the bass as well, rounding out the variety of the bassline to create much of the atmosphere of this track. There are some other melodic instruments in there too that contribute greatly to the vibrance I’d mentioned earlier, but most of the attention is focused on the bass.

 

Except when it’s focused on the vocals. Hate has the best vocals on the album. They’re not the best lyrically (though the message still tickles my mind out of the box). However, as for how the lyrics are sung, there’s more passion here than anywhere else on the album. During the chorus it seems as if nothing else matters except Poiss being overcome with the titular emotion of the song as it took over his mind.

 

Yeah, this song’s bleakness in its musical tone does fit with the lyrics. According to these lyrics, hate wins. It overwhelms the soul and casts out all other emotions and any purity that somehow survived up to that point. That’s only if you let it win though. Take this song as a warning.

 

Don’t let hate win.

 

THYX – Survival Instinct (8.5): I feel like, out of all the songs on this album, this song feels closest to his mind.in.a.box work. I’m not sure exactly how to describe it, but I have noticed that a lot of THYX’s songs have a slightly different feel from the stuff off of the mind.in.a.box albums. I’m not exactly sure how to describe it, but there’s definitely a combination of arps basslines, melodies and vocals that many of the upbeat mind.in.a.box songs roughly follow. And this is the closest I’ve heard a THYX song to fit that rough outline. Can I put it into words? Unfortunately, I’m not sure I can, which really brings into question why I’m reviewing in the first place, but right now all I have to go off of is this odd feeling of familiarity despite this being the first time I’m delving into the THYX side of the discography.

 

Well, I’ll try and at least explain what this music makes me feel, maybe it will be clearer how to make the comparison between the to aliases if I take a step back and look at this song as a standalone. The introduction for this song is quite amazing. A lot of songs on this album focus on starting with a subtle rumbling bassline, but this song might just be the best at using it. It just gives the right sense of unease to contrast with the more relaxing midnight jazzy vibe the sax and piano bring to the table. And the heavy breathing that transitions into the drive capitalizes on this unease quite well. This song definitely puts its best foot forward, and while I may have complained about some songs doing this in the past, the difference is that there’s plenty of great stuff to follow.

 

First off, those jazzy vibes from the piano do return in the song quite often enough to keep the introductory mood alive. Yet, it doesn’t necessarily linger on this mood, but transforms it by using the piano in tandem with the arps that steal the show for the majority of the song. That’s probably the secret to how I can even more easily associate this song with Mind.in.a.box in comparison to other songs on the album. Outside of the storytelling, Mind.in.a.box’s greatest strength was always the arps and Poiss made absolutely certain to showcase that strength in this one. Even the melody in the chorus (which is fantastic by the way) sounds similar to his arps, which I feel is what pushes the song over the line to sounding like a full on Mind.in.a.box song.

 

The vocals in the verses are admittedly a slight bit different from the Mind.in.a.box norm, going for a grittier vibe, not computerized in any way, just a different gritty flavor. It works because the lyrical content of Survival Instinct is edgy to match. Society is crumbling around us. Life deteriorates into entropy. All things, good or bad, eventually disappear. It all boils down to a choice: Will you stand and fight against the darkness that suffocates us or hide from it, waiting it out until mortality takes you?

 

One of these choices is easier. The other one is right.

 

THYX – Alien Love (7.25):  And now for a calmer, more simplistic track. Everything else we’ve heard so far has been incredibly dense with lyrics either thought provoking in the existential sense or thought provoking in a way that makes me scratch my head at why we’re personifying a road. This song, though strangely titled, is about much simpler ideas. Therefore, it shouldn’t take as long to tear into… Right?

 

I mean, not only are the lyrics relatively simple (half of the lines in this song are “It came to me”), the music itself is quite laid out nice and simple. The song starts out by solidifying itself as one of the calmer tracks, using only a piano (and maybe a slight bit of ambience) for the first minute. Eventually, the song does begin to incorporate a few basslines into the song, as well as an acoustic guitar (which I didn’t here the first time I listened through, but now it’s my favorite part. Add a few drums and a few synths and the song begins to slowly intensify from its initial calming beauty to its eventual glorious majesty.

 

The vocals undergo a similar journey. They start out slow and somber, perhaps filled with sorrow. But by the end of the journey, the Poiss sings with an unrelenting passion, as he switches onto the second part of the lyrics. But perhaps I should analyze that first part of the lyrics before I move on to the second part. Sequential order is quite preferable in most cases, this being one of them.

 

Something came to him. He was all alone, blind to the world around him and then something came to him, surrounding him. What was it? An alien? That’s the song’s title, but I’m kind of partial to the idea that it’s a thought or an epiphany that came his way. Something about the way he says it reminds me of more of cognitive arrival rather than a physical arrival.

 

Perhaps the second half of the song can help decipher these thoughts. They speak of all he wanted, all he needed. And they talk of “you”: the person of interest this song is directed at. Taking a quick glance at these lyrics, I can figure out what’s going on here pretty quickly. The singer, out of a desire for emotional healing, fell in love. But because he’s held himself at a distance, the love was unrequited, an alien concept.

 

Huh, guess I did spend a decent chunk of time analyzing these lyrics after all.

 

Anyways, this is a beautiful song and all, but it just doesn’t truly capture me musically overall and the lyrics, while fun to analyze, aren’t my preference.

 

THYX – Roses (8.75): You may think that a song called Roses would be a love song. Roses are a quite romantic flower after all And Alien Love was most certainly a love song, so it would fit thematically in this area of the album. But nah, Alien Love was the odd one out. The only point where this song mentions Roses is one line in the outro that I’m having some slight difficulty deciphering. And I have no qualms about this switch from love song to existentialism. Likely because songs like this are a bit closer to my preference anyway. These themes are part of the reason THYX holds its own against Mind.in.a.box even without the narrative.

 

Plus, the music of THYX, while slightly different, is quite great too. This song goes all out for the funkiest Poiss tune I’ve ever heard. Usually the bassline is quite arp-focused though there are some exceptions. Usually those exceptions are longer distorted notes giving a sense of unease and tension. This exception is an exception to that pattern, for it instead goes for a groovy bassline that helps drive the song forward along with some syncopated drums (and I’ve established in previous reviews that I quite love me some syncopation).

 

And if that funky groove wasn’t enough to please my intrigued ear drums, there’s some great electric guitar for the last third of the song. Really brings the song to another new level as the funky bassline also switches up to a more dynamic level as the guitar moves from lengthy soaring notes to a quick melodic solo before the song fades out. I really love this combination and feel it wraps up the song nicely.

 

But not only is this song musically exceptional, there’s also some great lyrics here. Perhaps not as great as The Endless Journey, but it’s close enough in quality that the superior music is able to push this song over the edge to become the best on the album. Instead of going over every single aspect and question of life (man, the Endless Journey was dense), Roses focuses on a singular topic: the impossibility of perfection.

 

There is an overwhelming pressure and desire for perfection in modern society. Flaws are the enemy and just one mistake can ruin everything. And while a detrimental mistake could very well have a drastic effect on one’s life, most of the time, we worry about matters that can be a bit more trivial. Perfection is impossible, and yet, despite our worry of living an imperfect life, we’re still here, still standing, still living. Even when all plans seem to fail, that doesn’t mean its’s over. Get up, shake off the dust and rubble from the collapsing ideals and take on a new day.

 

If you base your happiness on perfection, then contentment will elude you forever.

 

THYX – Below the City (6.5): For our titular track, we start out with an acoustic guitar and a bassline. Typical relaxing intro for this album, though I do feel that the guitar does make this one stand out above the rest as it’s not just a bassline softly building up before the drive starts. The guitar plays its own melody providing a unique flavor to the song as the only other time an acoustic guitar is used is within Alien Love, and even then, that one was covered up by the piano with a singular melody. This guitar has a much more dynamic feel to it, not following any true pattern, but still naturally flowing with the rest of the song.  It’s especially noticeable in the beginning but it makes a few other appearances throughout the rest of the track as well.

 

That guitar is definitely the show stealer of the track. Everything else is kind of run of the mill regular for this album, maybe a bit below average (which is above average overall but still). The bassline is a bit subtler than usual, allowing for an insanely smooth feel compared to some of the harsher tracks of the album. Whether or not this is a good thing is debatable, as it does mean that the bassline blends a bit much with the higher pitched arps and any semblance of ambience the song has. The guitar still stands out thankfully, but that’s about it.

 

The lyrics of Below the City are probably the most cryptic yet. It seems to be said from the point of view of some sort of artificial intelligence that longs to have a more human experience. And that’s an interesting concept, but it doesn’t really do much with it. At least nothing that really gives me anything not talk about other than that quick summary. Unless there’s some kind of cryptic message behind obsolete ladders that would change everything that this song represents. But as it is, I have no idea what that line means, and the rest of the song is unchanged because of it.

 

Honestly, this song is just kind of bland compared to much of Poiss’ stuff. The guitar does help, but there is so little substance here that the titular track honestly is the worst lyrical song of the album.

 

THYX – Timeless (5.75): And then there’s this one. For our last track of the album, we have Timeless (not to be confused with Timelessness, a Mind.in.a.box song that shan’t be reviewed until at least 2 months from now, maybe more depending on if I change my priorities). Timeless, unlike the rest of the album, has no lyrics. Or at least I think it doesn’t. It has vocals, but I can’t make out a single word, so lyrical analysis will be absent from this particular section of the review. It’s all about the music this time.

 

And what does this song have to offer? Unfortunately, not much. There’s some decent arps introduced at the beginning, though they do get somewhat covered up by the repetitive bassline as the song progresses. The vocals do help save this song a bit as they add some much-needed variety and melodic influence, but other than that, this is a very bland ending to an otherwise great album.

 

Conclusion: Poiss definitely picked up some momentum on this sophomore album for the THYX alias (though he already has 4 other Mind.in.a.box albums under his belt, but we’re not focusing on those right now). There were several songs on this album. Half of the songs on this album received 8/10s and higher. I’m a bit surprised as I expected that the lack of narrative would cause this to be a little lesser tha the albums off the main alias, but the songs here are so intensely introspective that it doesn’t even matter that the conflict between the Sleepwalkers and the Agency is currently swept to the sidelines. I still thoroughly enjoy this album.

 

Unfortunately, the album does dip a little bit in quality towards the end, with a couple of songs that pale in comparison to everything previously, somewhat hampering my experience. It would have been a little better if the album ended at Roses, but I’m not going to let the ending ruin my enjoyment of the other 8 songs on the album.

 

Final Score: (7.5/10)

Daily Hat Track Roundup: April 2019

Alright, it’s been May for precisely a week, and I still haven’t posed a summary of all the Daily Hat Tracks for April. If you’re following me on Twitter, then this post will be kind of useless to you as I’ve already posed all of these songs and their descriptions on Twitter. I aim to do so daily, but every once and a while, I slack off and later post an obscenely large amount of them in one day. Anyways, here’s thirty songs I enjoyed listening to over the past month so perhaps you can enjoy them as well. Check out the playlist at the bottom to hear all of the Daily Hat Tracks of the year.

 

Daily Hat Track: April 1 (Combichrist – The Evil in Me): This is basically the edgiest I can go before the edge starts to be a detractor rather than a positive aspect. Has that nihilistic mood for the darker times, though it doesn’t cross any lines.

 

Daily Hat Track: April 2 (Bliss – Warriors): I’ve already shared the Guitar remix a month or so back. I was originally introduced to that one and find it a bit more addicting. This one has some cool parts too, but it’s not nearly as good as constant guitar solos.

 

Daily Hat Track: April 3 (Bring Me the Horizon & Grimes – nihilist blues): I’ve been listening to a lot of edgier music as of late. Should probably work on rebalancing my musical diet, but eh this dark vibe is where I’m at right now. There’s a nihilist knocking on my door… And he shares my face…

 

Daily Hat Track: April 4 (Shirobon – Born Survivor): Definitely a nostalgic inspirational tune from a few years back when things were a lot simpler (though still kinda complicated). Good chiptune mood in this one. Has a nice bounce to it.

 

Daily Hat Track: April 5 (H.U.V.A. Network – Something Heavens): It’s incredibly late and so I desire to end the day with some relaxation from the immersive heavenly experience that is H.U.V.A. Network. Good night to all. May your dreams be of something heavenly.

 

Daily Hat Track: April 6 (Seven Lions & Jason Ross – The Sirens: Oh yeah, I forgot about this psytrance/psystep wonder Seven Lions released last year. Looks like there’s a compilation with an extended version out now. Neat.

 

Daily Hat Track: April 7 (Douglas Holmquist & Susanna Lundgren – Something Beneath): The fact that this beautiful inspiring track comes from a Pinball game still astounds me. Then again, Pinout is a very interesting spin on Pinball, so it deserves it.

 

Daily Hat Track: April 8 (Nömak – Schrödinger’s Cat WLP Edit): Here’s a very strange trippy experimental track that breaks apart halfway through to return as something completely different. Such an odd song. I love it.

 

Daily Hat Track: April 9 (Lauren Bousfield – Two Swans Duct Taped to the Side of the Coke Machine): Long as we’re doing experimental madness, here’s a shorter fascinatingly enjoyable mess from Lauren Bousefield. The song title isn’t shorter though. Not short at all.

 

Daily Hat Track: April 10 (Varien – Born of Blood, Risen from Ash): This one’s only about a week old but the combination of 2012-2024 Varien and 2026 – 2018 Varien really works here. Really looking forward to everything else Varien has coming for us over the next year.

 

Daily Hat Track: April 11 (Freezepop – Phantoms): I have no idea what this song is about. Well I know it’s about a post mortem dance party but other than that I’m at a loss. Fun song though!

 

Daily Hat Track: April 12 (Stephen & IN-Q – Start a Fire): Not my usual genre to post but Stephen does occasionally dip very slightly into electronic with a synth here and there. This mostly acoustic intro to his album is among my favorites from him.

 

Daily Hat Track: April 13 (Joachim Pastor – Reykjavik): Been a while since I posted some Hungry Music. Joachim Pastor with a chill drive as always. Good funky grooves. Beautifully mysterious melodies. Odd outro for a hungry song but I don’t really mind.

 

Daily Hat Track: April 14 (Arkasia – Those From There): Not an Arkasia expert, so I can’t necessarily compare this to songs from the rest of his discography, but this one certainly is magically immersive. Love the subtle vocal flavors added here and there.

 

Daily Hat Track: April 15 (Andy Blueman – Sea Tides): Honestly kind of tired tonight so here’s the trance track that started this week’s Discover Weekly on Spotify. Don’t have all that much to say about it. My reviews are thousands of words long. Let me be lazy on occasion.

 

Daily Hat Track: April 16 (Inofaith – Dawn is Late): I’m up a bit late tonight though not as late as this song suggests. This comes from the same EP as Nocturne which I posted a while back. Inofaith has released only a handful of tracks but this one is among the best of them.

 

Daily Hat Track: April 17 (Ashbury Heights – Science): If I had made a list of the best songs of 2018, this would have been near the top. One of my favorite Ashbury Heights songs as well, though The Looking Glass Society has some better ones. Anyways, this song is about depression!

 

Daily Hat Track: April 18 (Space Buddha – Mental Hotline): Mostly sharing this because I find the voice at the beginning of the song to be an amusing asshat. The rest of the track bangs though. If you do need help with mental issues, call a hotline if need be. Just don’t call this one.

 

Daily Hat Track: April 19 (Hilight Tribe – Esperanza): I’m trying to maybe finish up my review by the end of the day so um here’s a groovy trance song with a guitar. Enjoy that for nine minutes why don’t ya?

 

Daily Hat Track: April 20 (Neuromonakh Feofan – Ядрёность): For the track that was supposed to be posted on my birthday, I would like to share this Russian DnB and dubstep. I always find this band to be incredibly interesting.

 

Daily Hat Track: April 21 (The Future Sound of London – Point of Departure): For the Easter Daily Hat Track, I give you the first immersive track off of this album I just discovered by this artist I just discovered. Gonna be listening to more of this as I wash the dishes.

 

Daily Hat Track: April 22 (Neuromonakh Feofan – Нейромонах Феофан): Another Neuromonakh Feofan song because why not, they’re addicting. This is their titular song. Titular as in named after that artist, not the album. One of their best.

 

Daily Hat Track: April 23 (Chris Keya – Totentanz): One of the many highlights of this week’s Discovery Weekly. Solid drumbeat. Plenty of great guitar rocking throughout. Plus a couple of good melodies to jam to.

 

Daily Hat Track: April 24 (OVERWERK & Nikon – Calling): OVERWERK and Nikon are a great combination that gets better with each iteration. The most recent iteration of yesteryear being this agnostically themed track with the best Arpwerk from I’ve even heard from OVERWERK

 

Daily Hat Track: April 25 (VNV Nation – Space & Time): One of my very first VNV Nation songs continues to also be one of my very favorites. Really captures the beauty of the chaos of this world. Spoke to me quite well when I’d discovered it 3 years ago and it still does.

 

Daily Hat Track: April 26 (Mazmoneth – Kali’s Day Off): As this day comes to a close, may I introduce some odd ambience to end your day. A few melodies too. Ok actually there’s a lot of interesting stuff in this song and it develops greatly over time so I’m gonna stop listing it all.

 

Daily Hat Track: April 27 (OVERWERK & Mars – Know): Another OVERWERK track today. This is the runner-up to Calling on the State album and the best non-Nikon song. There’s a bit more darkness and doubt in this one despite being called “Know.” Great groove in places too.

 

Daily Hat Track: April 28 (Stonebank & EMEL – Stronger): Stonebank released a new song recently and for some reason, as I was listening to it I really wanted there to be a surprise DnB drop added in there towards the end. It didn’t happen so I had to listen to my fav from him again.

 

Daily Hat Track: April 29 (Ace Ventura & Antimony – We Dream): We Dream. It’s who we are. Best psytrance if the past week. Some inspiring relatable vocals (I’m definitely dreamer) and a great mysterious sound that feels both familiar and unique at the same time.

 

Daily Hat Track: April 30 (Neelix & Caroline Harrison – Makeup): 4 months in and I still haven’t shared my favorite song of all time? This psytrance masterpiece has such an intricate hidden message that I just don’t have the room to fully analyze it in a tweet. I’ll have to review it someday.

 

 

 

Full Daily Hat Tracks 2019 playlist here:

 

https://open.spotify.com/user/beretbeats/playlist/4CIZYAQAzctqYqFG89HIv2?si=8wlLYj9RQmOw_1JrDn2TAw

 

Aviators – Aeterno (2013 album)

Album links

Bandcamp: https://soundoftheaviators.bandcamp.com/album/aeterno

Soundcloud: n/a

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/0tVYhReBmzpA81JproDO3W?si=uOELovmKRD2KTz-Sj93NLA

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLuJ82PHklZE7xwcGeobnlHLLgnzAjyBbu

 

 

Introduction: Aviators is a bit of an interesting artist to review. The fact of the matter is that he’s developed his sound in such a way that what he produces now has absolutely nothing in common with where he started. Well, technically, this album isn’t his true beginning, but I’ve opted to skip the first bit of his discography for now as Aviators would probably disown them. I may look at those eventually, but I think time would be spent better going over the albums that actually matter at first.

 

Still, Aeterno is a bit of an odd place to begin the Aviators journey, as it’s an entirely unique concept album that shares little to no similarities with the other albums he’s released prior or since. The album is based on a vague story of sorts, much vaguer than Mind.in.a.box of course (the inevitable comparison I shall always make when introducing a narrative), but still involves some extremely subtle worldbuilding centering upon a post apocalyptic world. Unfortunately, there’s not too much to go off of thanks to 14 out of the 15 songs being instrumental.  But I’m the master of digging deep even when there’s nowhere to dig so let’s get into that deep digging why don’t we?

 

Aviators – Aeterno (7.5): A time long forgotten or perhaps a time that is yet to come…

 

Any time is reachable now that we’ve arrived here…

 

And so, we begin…

 

The album starts out with its titular track, a calming mysterious piece that sets the tone for the rest of the album (as an intro song should). This song is a simple combination of a few bone chilling instruments including some deep contrabass strings, a distant choir and the melodic star of the show, bells. There’s only a handful of melodies in here, none of them reaching more than a handful of notes. But the simplicity does work. It draws more attention to the feelings the instruments create rather than the melody itself. Done well, it can be quite immersive, and this is definitely done well.

 

These bells, choir and strings work together to bring an image to life in my mind. Albeit, this image isn’t the liveliest. Perhaps, it’s the album art’s fault as it depicts a decrepit city that looks to have a higher population of overgrown plants rather than human beings. Then again, seeing as the album art is a deliberate choice, that was probably the intention. The very description of this album is post- apocalyptic. Perhaps time travel too? I believe there was a more in-depth description on this album’s story once, but the description has disappeared somehow, lost in time…

 

It makes sense that time travel would be involved as when I tried to find the definition of Aeterno, I found the phrase “ab aeterno” instead, meaning “from an infinitely remote point of time in the past.” And if you’re in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Going to an infinitely remote point of time in the past sounds like a good way to escape the horrors of the present…

 

Aviators – Escaping Darkness (7.25): As the world falls apart, darkness will surround and suffocate you…

 

Unless you escape…

 

Escaping Darkness begins with a very mysterious calm similar to Aeterno. However, this time the mysterious darkness chooses not to hide behind the beauty of bells. No, the ambience from the beginning, complete with broken glass, makes it clear that the darkness is settling in. And as the blasting horns overpower the song for that first minutes, they send a message that the darkness is here to stay.

 

The rest of the song tries to escape it anyway.

 

While the song doesn’t really have a regular tempo, it still has a great drive to it, a great sense of trying to run and escape the darkness that seeps across the land (or perhaps within the soul). There are drums in there, but they seem to be a of the more cinematic variety rather than the typical drive. Instead of displaying the BPM of running down dark alleys of a forgotten city, this drumbeat attempts to capture the emotional stress of it all. And matched with the first electronic melody of the album (with some underlying bells), the attempt is successful.

 

While there may be a short break from the darkness midway through, the chase can’t last forever. It seems that, for now, the darkness has won. There is no escape…

 

Aviators – Broken Planet (7): The planet is broken…

 

Can it be fixed?

 

Broken Planet is one of the shorter songs on the album, not even hitting the three-minute mark. Still, it uses its time well. This song is about on par with Escaping Darkness, better in some ways, but in the end, it’s just not quite as good. In the beginning, it hits a lot of the same emotions, but it does so in an ever better spine-chilling fashion. During the first and last minute of the song, there’s no audible instruments other than a very simple piano melody. However, the sound design of this piano is distorted ever so slightly that it allows for some really unsettling ambiance. In this album, Aviators seems obsessed with taking simple melodies and using them to the best of their ability. This part of the song allows for some quiet reflection, ears filled with something familiar, yet distorted to a point that’s almost unsettling.

 

The middle of the song takes a different approach to display this broken world. It’s a lot less subtle. The cinematic drumbeats here are quite similar to those used in Escaping Darkness, but there’s very little else to distract from the drums this time around. This results in a bit of a mixed bag. Out of context, the drum just doesn’t really hold the song on its own, making it one of the less interesting parts on the album. But it does provide a good rush to the middle of the song, giving it a slight bit of edge of your seat variety. I just can’t help but wonder if this track would have been better if it had fully committed to the creepy piano the whole way through. Still a good one, but I can’t help but feel it has missing potential.

 

Aviators – Labyrinthine (5.75): When all is lost…

 

It can be hard to find one’s way…

 

Labyrinthine differs heavily from what we’ve been presented with so far. The past three songs used a small number of simple instruments to provide a cinematic feeling that feels as if it belongs in a movie. Labyrinthine is DnB. Which is completely different from most of the songs on the album. But I’m perfectly ok with that. DnB used to be my favorite subgenre of EDM and it still remains to be up there, though perhaps various forms of trance have overtaken it since then. Plus, if you count futurepop, there’s that too. So yeah, DnB isn’t going to be my focus on this site too much. Still, I’m a huge fan of syncopation (staple characteristic of DnB) and high tempo energy (other staple characteristic of DnB) so most DnB tracks are an instant win for me.

 

This song seems to try and walk the thin line between an extreme high energy DnB song and the bell melodies played throughout the album so far. During the calmer sections and the build-ups, I feel this works alright, giving a nice balance of energies. But it doesn’t tickle my imagination like the rest of the songs so far and the drops aren’t exactly the most inspired. While I do automatically like DnB because of its tempo and syncopation, this song feels pretty below average for the genre. Making it only a bit above average as a song.

 

Having this be the first DnB song I review (again, surprising it’s taken this long), isn’t exactly the most glaring recommendation of the genre. It’s good but pales in comparison to some of the DnB masterpieces. It also pales in comparison to the next DnB song I plan on reviewing… later in this album. There’s another one but we’ll talk about that in a bit.

 

 

Aviators – Haunted (6.5): As the darkness creeps in…

 

As the broken past is revealed…

 

It haunts us…

 

Haunted is a return to the general calmer more introspective side of the album, which is incredibly refreshing after subpar DnB. And the strings and the arp at the beginning really sell the song quite well from the beginning. They develop quite nicely with the arp and a simple integrated melody taking the forefront for much of the song. Though there are a couple of moments where some other neat elements are introduced, such as the subtle whisper of vocals in the clam in the middle, which serves as my favorite part of the song, really bringing the entire song together for a driving haunted feel (fitting considering the title) And… uh… there’s the other melodic instrument.

 

Yeah, I sure hope you like that synth, because Aviators uses it a lot in his early works. Sometimes it works well, giving a song a bit of flavor. But the flavor doesn’t quite work or fit in here unfortunately and so I find myself ever so slightly irked by its existence. It’s not bad and it thankfully has a decent amount of variation to it so it’s in no way repetitive, but I just can’t help but feel the song would have been a bit stronger without it. Maybe shave off a couple minutes too so that missing variation doesn’t make the song tedious. Am I being nitpicky? Yeah. Probably. It is a decent song, but it could be a lot better.

 

Aviators – Find Me (7.5): A distance voice calls out…

 

Find her…

 

This calmer track is completely piano focused, taking the simplicity of early Aviators to an entire new level. There are some subtleties in there such as a bells and drums that almost blends in perfectly with the piano melody and a stringed section that adds another layer of beauty to the song. But nothing gets as much focus as the piano.

 

And seeing as the piano is a wonderfully beautiful instrument, the song is gorgeous. You’ve got some arpeggiated notes on the lower end of the piano that play throughout the song, serving as the gentle backbone of the track and those are paired with the melodies on the higher end of the piano. Not to mention the section in the middle and end of the track that focuses on bouncing back and forth between strikingly powerful chords and the calmer piano melodies as a contrast. All of the other instruments do get stronger as the song progresses, but they only serve to heighten the emotion of the piano, not overpower it. Such a simple track but also one of the best.

 

Aviators – Kill Switch (7.75): Reset what once was…

 

Kill the past…

 

Kill the future…

 

And begin anew…

 

Alright, back to the slightly harsher stuff. Not that much of this album has been very harsh at all for the most part. I guess perhaps Labyrinthine has some slightly harsher parts and the next track is quite intense as well, but that just makes this song stand out all the more as one of the most energetic songs on the album. It hits a great sweet spot in energy that differs greatly from previous calmer songs like Aeterno and Haunted, but it doesn’t quite reach the same levels of intensity as the DnB tracks of the album, Labyrinthine and Iron Horizon (I’ll get to that one shortly, give me a second). This fantastic balance makes it one of the best songs on the album.

 

So what does Kill Switch have to offer? Well, first off it has a solid drive, which is more than I can say for many of the other songs on the album. Not saying that (most of) those songs are bad because of their lack of solid drive. Some of the ones without that drive turn out to be the most beautiful (See Aeterno and Find Me). This one does have a nice outro that’s a bit more relaxing, but that’s not its strong point.

 

Its strong point is pushing forward with a handful of electronic synths. (wacky basslines, some stabbing melodies, you get the gist). There’s also some bells because it wouldn’t be a song on Aeterno if it didn’t have bells. These bells do a much better job at integrating themselves into a more intense song that Labyrinthine did, but I think the most interesting part of this song has to be the electric guitar, or at least the synth that simulates the electric guitar. I guess I’m just a sucker for a good guitar melody… or a good guitar riff… or a good guitar solo… You know what, I just like good guitar and good guitar is something that this song has.

 

Aviators – Iron Horizon (8): The City looms over the horizon…

 

Save it before it breaks…

 

Kill Switch was definitely intense compared to most of this album. Most. Because there is one song that takes the mantle of the most intense energetic song of them all. And that song is Iron Horizon, the second DnB song of the album and the first song off of Aeterno that I heard. And while I didn’t really appreciate Labyrinthine, I do find Iron Horizon to be a much better introduction to my love for DnB. Sure, it’s not the first DnB song I’m reviewing, but it is the first DnB song I love.

 

Already talked about the high tempo and syncopation back in Labyrinthine. Those go without saying so I’m going to try and focus on the more unique elements of the song. After a few seconds of deceptively calming bell melodies that high tempo syncopation I keep talking about comes in and sets the song into full force (Ok, I guess I am talking about the high tempo syncopation. So sue me). Or at least that would be full force, but the song is once again deceptive as the build-up approaches with rapid drumbeats, some subtle guitar work in the background and the heaviest bass this album has to offer.

After that there’s the drop. And I have both everything and nothing to say about this drop. The basslines here are exceptionally impressive and intense compared to what was seen in labyrinthine. The melodies are exceptionally and enjoyably energetic which matches the upbeat vibe a lot better than most of the bell melodies in Labyrinthine. And the second half of the drop? The part where it’s constantly bouncing back and forth between half of that energetic melody and a showcase of some great bassy DnB patterns? Absolutely fantastic.

 

Honestly, I’m pretty sure the main difference between this and Labyrinthine is that Labyrinthine just didn’t fully commit to the DnB madness. It was still trying to hold on to tightly to the calmer vibes that appear throughout a huge portion of this album. Iron Horizon still has bells and all, but there is nothing calm and relaxing about it. Perhaps the beginning and end are a bit calmer, but that’s a total of about 20 seconds of calmness compared to over 3 and a half minutes of high energy DnB. It’s just some bookends that serve as a reminder that this is still Aeterno.

 

Aviators – I’ll Find You (5): She holds the key…

 

The key to change the past…

 

The key to change the future…

 

Find her…

 

I have to presume, based on title, that this is a sequel to Find Me. An answer to the call of the search. It would have been rather neat to see if the two songs shared any similarities, but unfortunately, it sounds to be nothing more than the next chapter in this incredibly vague story about time travel. There used to be more information out there on the story behind the EP, but I can’t seem to find it currently, or maybe it just never existed, and my brother and I are both remembering something that doesn’t exist. Doesn’t seem likely but my imagination continues telling me it’s a possibility so I’m going to keep that in mind.

 

Narrative aside, this song feels incredibly relaxing compared to the Iron Horizon that preceded it. Slower melodies, no prominent bassline, a long progression that takes its time going anywhere. Unfortunately, the problem with that last one is that the song doesn’t go anywhere. Sure there’s a few new elements introduced here and there, but many of them are too subtle to take note of and any significant addition is too far apart from the rest. It’s a bit faster in the beginning as it introduces the one of main melodies and a drumbeat (which still takes 2 minutes to come in, excessively long for a song of this stature), but after that, it just feels like the song takes forever to move from one point to the next. There are some other important melodies that come in here and there (the main theme of the song at 3:30 and a reiteration of the first melody with an all too obvious synthesizer that tries to sound like a guitar pluck but just fails at it spectacularly), but it seems Aviators is determined to prevent any significant changes from occurring within one minute of each other. It certainly does not meet the standards of variety for such a long 8-minute track

 

And as if the song wasn’t long enough, there’s a Part 2

 

Aviators & Vortex – I’ll Find You Part 2 (7):

 

 

 

Find her…

 

I am actually quite glad that this track got divided up into 2 parts. Because Part 2 takes all the melodies that made the first part good and plays a few different spins on them with different instrumentation and tone. Plus, there’s a few entirely new melodies inserted in there as well. It may be two minutes shorter, but there’s plenty more variety to be offer. There are some obvious directions this song decides to go. Plenty of reiterations of the past song’s melodies of course. And also, Aviators has to use that iconic synth from his early works in here (plenty of melodic variety whenever they’re playing. There’s also an interesting bassline in the middle that interrupts the song in the middle with a harsher vibe similar to some moments in Kill Switch.

 

I’m not entirely familiar with Vortex and his work so I’m sure some part of this final product can be accredited to him. I’m going to guess that bassier portion has his name on it, but I’m not certain. Like I said, I’m not familiar with his work.

 

Honestly if you cut the first part down to three minutes and made a good transition into this second part, I think I would have liked the combination of these two songs all the better because of it. But as is, Part 2 definitely serves to be the better of the two.

 

 

Aviators – Cloud Ocean (5): Dive into the depths below…

 

Rise into the sky above…

 

Either direction leads to the unknown…

 

But must you only choose one?

 

Cloud Ocean is the happiest song this album has to offer. That also makes it perhaps the most boring along with I’ll Find You and one other track which I haven’t gotten to quite yet. Maybe, it’s just because I’m a sucker for the edgier stuff. Takes a bit more interesting elements to make a happier song like this one… well… interesting. And for the most part, I’m afraid this one fails to do so. Much of the song concentrates on the least adventurous strings possible and a tropical melody that falls flat. There are some guitar sections that make up a bit for the blandness, but those are still subtle, and they certainly don’t save the song from its curse of averageness.

 

Aviators – His Arrival (7.25): He has found you…

 

The one responsible for it all…

 

Change him…

 

Change the world…

 

Perhaps one of the simplest songs on the album but also perhaps one of the most chilling as well. But that’s simply what a music box does. There’s something unsettling about placing such a simple pretty melody within the dark ambiance that this track contains. The two overlapping melodies that come from this music box overlap each other quite beautifully. This song isn’t just a music box though. I didn’t notice it at first, but in the second half of the track there’s some great ambience added in. It’s very subtle at first, but it does become a bit more prominent over time, especially at the 1.5-minute mark when the strings take over. It also sounds like there’s a didgeridoo in there which really gives a unique vibe to the song. Overall, I feel this song works great as the creepiest song of the album despite its simplicity. Maybe because of its simplicity.

 

Aviators – The Ticketmaster’s Waltz (4.25):

 

I’m not going to even bother trying to connect this one to the story. I mean, I’ve been trying to do my best to give a slight taste of what the concept of the album is about, even if it’s a bit of a stretch sometimes (see the last song), but hey, the concept is slightly vague so I’ll be slightly vague too. Except here. I have no idea how the Ticketmaster and his Waltz fit into all of this and I’m not sure if even my stretchy imagination can figure out a connection. It just feels out of place.

 

And I’m not really interested in the music either. Like His Arrival, this one devotes itself to an instrumental theme. But His Arrival had the advantage of using a creepy music box, an aesthetic I highly enjoy. This song is a creepy carnival, an aesthetic that I don’t really care about. Besides, the ghostly voices are much less creepy than the music box, so this song just comparatively falls flat. This album would have been a bit better off if this song was skipped over.

 

That’s all I have to say. Really. There’s nothing else.

 

Aviators – The Path Home (7.75): Change is inevitable…

 

Embrace it…

 

Move forward…

 

Find peace…

 

Find home…

 

This song definitely stands out as the only lyrical song of the album. And because of that, the song feels the most dated of the bunch of the album. Aviators’ voice has developed and improved over time, which is good because in a modern album the song without vocals would be the outlier (plus I like some of his modern vocal tracks. A good amount of them have great lyrics, not all of them but a good lot of them).

 

But that’s the future in comparison to this album. A time that had been yet to come in perspective of the past. But hey, the connection to past and future is what this album is all about anyway. That’s obviously not Aviators’ intention for including a vocal track this time around, but I’m mentioning it anyway.

 

The music here is a bit simple compared to most of the album, though not quite as simple as the last two. It’s fine because this is a lyrical track and the vocals carry the slack from the instrumental. Thank goodness, because the instrumental simply wouldn’t hold this song on its own. The minimalism worked fantastically for His Arrival, but this song is an entirely different animal. Where, His Arrival was instrumentally minimal, The Path Home is melodically minimal. Sure, there are a couple simple melodies at the beginning, end, and any other point where Aviators is silent. But they don’t provide much power compared to the chords throughout the rest of the song (heard almost exclusively during the vocal portions, especially the chorus). There are a few other melodies here and there using Aviators’ favorite synth or a slightly textural bass, but nothing too remarkable. It’s an adequate song, but nothing spectacular.

 

Thankfully, there’s lyrics. Don’t really think there’s too much here for me to analyze, but there is still a good message here about moving forward through the chaos. The first verse explores the paralysis one feels when viewing the chaos in this world. The easy path of numbly walking with the path of least resistance. But by the end of the second verse, it’s clear that the path of least resistance doesn’t necessarily end in peace. Sometimes you have to rise up and change your path, taking a risk to venture onto the rugged path.

 

The path home.

 

Aviators – Absolution (7.75): Everything must come to an end…

 

This is ours…

 

The final song of Aviators’ album is the most orchestral of the bunch, a fitting conclusion. What makes this song so great is the use of so many instruments that have been used throughout this album. The strings immediately give the signal that something grand is coming, be it grand in a victorious way or grand in a horrifying way is unclear. The song does seem to continue shifting back and forth between those moods as the strings dip down at certain points while also climbing to new heights at other points.

 

The drums, important to most songs (though His Arrival did quite well without them), aren’t necessarily unique, but they do have that irregular tempo that appeared in many of the earlier songs of the album so they’re worth mentioning.

 

The bells, Aviators favorite instrument for this album (not of this time period. The Aviators synth is strangely absent here, but that’s ok, I’m not sure it would fit) also make an appearance. They chime along with the song’s suspenseful tempo, painting a picture of the world changing as intended.

 

There’s also some piano, which was mostly prominent in Find Me. The piano once again provides a variety of melodies while it is present in the song, adding a healthy amount of variation in its stay, interesting seeing as the introduction of the piano was a service to variation already. It definitely steals the show in its beautiful sections (in an already beautiful song, so you know it’s exceptional).

 

Equally as beautiful is the choir that first made an appearance in the titular song at the beginning of the album. Here, the voices are stronger than ever, providing an extra layer of beauty to the track.

 

Altogether, Absolution wraps up this collection of songs quite wonderfully. And yet… I can’t help but feel there’s something more. This song builds towards an event undiscovered. The story continues on beyond what we see here. What happens next is unknown. The future is unknown. The story never ends. Just the chapters we can see.

 

For now, Absolution is the culmination of everything we’ve heard so far. Absolution is the end.

 

For now…

 

Conclusion: Overall, Aeterno is an interesting concept album with a great variety of songs ranging from simplistic music boxes to suspenseful cinematic pieces to some great intense DnB. Not every son is a winner, but many of them are at least well above average, meaning that my rating is well above average.

 

One thing that I want to mention is the possible future this album might hold. I know that I’m basically becoming a third hand source, but my brother told me that Aviators mentioned on a livestream that he’d like to remake this album. So whether or not I’m displaying reliable intel is possibly questionable but I’ve got some solid confidence in my brother so I’m going to believe it’s true. The question is when.

 

Final Score: (6.75/10)

 

THYX – The Way Home (2011 album)

Album links

Bandcamp: n/a

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/thyxmusic/sets/the-way-home-5

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/0jqzq1zmNqeqgp5EPAetfF?si=bwrhPyAXSaG-t-WPMDv2Rw

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_mUzWpLoCPvTdb8vHEcrnwQh9LFcsmJJjo

 

Í̶̢̮͇̟͕̫̹̹̔͑̍̿͑n̷̡̜̘̮̠͚̺̫̭̼͉̓͌̓͑̓̉̕t̸̨̢̬͈͍̗͕̥̟͓̅̉̀̽̂͌̊͂͘̕͝r̵̨͙̟͖̜̪͖͖̿͑̾̈͌͗͑̍̒̿͆͛ó̸̺̖̠̱̀͛̒̿̕͠d̴̬̦̀u̷̢̨̫̠͍̜̯͎̯̠̽͌͐́͜ͅc̸̛̯̋̿̎̀̈́͆̒͊̀̚͝t̵͉͓̳̅į̴̛̹̱͎̪͎͕͉͓̲͚̥͎̱̅̏̀͗̕͝ò̷̢̮͖͓̻̈́͆́́̈͒͒̆̈́͊͝͠n̸̗̼͓̦͕̱̳̾:̶̧͉̳̪̟̝̳͚̯̅̀͌̕ͅ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

L̸a̷s̶t̴ ̸t̸i̵m̸e̸ ̴o̸n̶ ̷T̴h̴y̶x̶:̵ Ẁ̷͙ả̵̠i̸̳͌ṱ̷́ ̵͓̦̍͝a̴̖̋͠ ̴̝̀s̴͔̀̓e̷͕͔̐c̵̨͗̄o̸̼̪̒n̶̙̈̓d̷̮̿ ̷͕̓w̶̺͕͒̽h̶̜͂y̶̤̗͊̍ ̴̦̌͗a̴͕͒̔m̶͉̑ ̵̘̈̈́Ï̸̛͚ ̷̛̭͔͘d̶͎͌̀o̶̻̍͘ȋ̸̧͓n̸̠̂̆g̷͇͋ͅ ̷̞͚́̄t̶̜̿͊h̸̨̪̔̀ĩ̵̘̘s̷̤̪͑?̶͇̆̈́ ̷͖̐͛ I̵̝̝̳͙̒͊̕͘ ̸̑̃ͅh̷͙̩̊à̶̜̜̱̲̀v̶̘̙͗e̵͉̥͇̳͝n̴̝͌’̵̯̺̩͕́̚t̴͉͈̀̒̓̓ ̷̱̎ṛ̶̤̦͆̂̚e̶̖̾͝v̵͕͍͚͈͘ǐ̶̺̈̏̕e̴̙̎͝w̶͉͉̌e̵̺̲̖̘͑̇d̶̘̩̥͌͝ ̶̞͙͉́Ț̶̪̮̘͘̚h̵̲̪͐̀̐͗y̴̧͗̕ẋ̵̢̞̤͂̆ ̷͖͉̖̒̌͗̕b̷͇̲̜̆e̷͙̤̓͘f̴̢͓̮͂̍́ͅo̶̖̫͕͕̓͂́͠r̶̢̬̞̫͑̒̕ḛ̶̀̔̌…̶̟̻͎̓̂ ̴͔̺̦́͒͘ t̸̲͕̖̪̰̳͒̏͌̄̀͋ḧ̴̪̹̝̌̎͑̊ḙ̵̠̈́̂͘r̷̨̫͉̙̮̰̓̊͂̓͠e̸̪̝͇̼̥͋͂̉ ̵̧̻̬̺͐ǐ̶̹͔̏̑͛ṡ̶̭͗ ̴̝͙̪͒̽͆̐͛͑ǹ̷͉̫̦̮͚̄͜ó̴̲̋̿̃̈́̈́ ̶̹̟̜̙̤̺̐̆̈́̀͘l̸̡͈̘̥̲͒̓̈́̓̀̚͜ä̴́̈́̀͜s̷̲̾͘̚ţ̷̡̡̤̣͔̈́̉̆ ̷̢͕̥̱͋͐͊͑̄t̸̜̗̟̺̟͋̔ì̶̡̬̖̠̦͇̉m̵̨̦̥̱̓͝ė̷̢͈͈̟͖̜̈́͑̀̾̚…̴̟̟̘̠̦̫̚

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Introduction: THYX isn’t a new artist. The name is new yes. You’ve never seen it on this site before. But I started reviewing the man behind this name all the way back in early January. Perhaps the whole introduction/last time/introduction bait and switch at the beginning of this review has keyed you in on exactly where this alternate alias comes from. It’s Mind.in.a.box, the artist behind the narrative of Black getting caught in the struggle between White’s Stalkers and The Friend’s Sleepwalkers.

 

But as established in the last Mind.in.a.box review, Stefan Poiss hasn’t devoted all of his time to the Mind.in.a.box narrative. After the singular non-canon album that is R.E.T.R.O., Poiss decided to create an entirely new alias for the songs that don’t quite fit into the story. Boasting four albums so far, the THYX discography is a neat little side project that I really haven’t spent enough time listening to.

 

Of course, since reviewing these albums requires me to listen to many of these song on loop for a extended periods of time, that may be about to change.

 

THYX – Spoil (7): Now then, I’m not going to avoid comparing this to Mind.in.a.box. Such comparisons would be inevitable and it’s only right to highlight a few nuanced differences between the two sides of Poiss. There is a lot of overlap seeing as their source is the same. The vocals are no different from what I’d expect from Black’s story. Perhaps a bit cleaner in tone, but it’s clear that the man behind the mic is still Stefan and he still expresses many of the same existential themes in his lyrics (more on that later). The music also still has a huge focus on arps that reflect a technological soundscape. This song in particular has some great guitar riffs that are in no way foreign to Mind.in.a.box. Just take a look at Machine Run and every song related to it by using the same riff pattern.

 

Unfortunately, from a reviewing standpoint, any differences between the two aliases are a bit too subtle for me to be sure how to describe them. The sound is, from what I can tell, a slight bit cleaner than most of the Mind.in.a.box songs. Oh yeah, there’s still some grit there. The drumbeat is actually above average grit for Mind.in.a.box despite the rest of the song being a bit on the chiller side. And there’s a bit more variety in that drumbeat as well, constantly switching between half-time, four on four and syncopation not keep anyone listening on their toes. Other than that, it’s just the usual fantastic technological soundscape I love.

 

The lyrics in this one are a bit tricky. There’s the chant of either “Get to me” or Come to me” for starters. I’m not sure which one it is, but I’m pretty sure there’s very little difference from the meaning of the end result so it works. The rest of the lyrics, however, speak of spoiling… something. Someone somewhere screwed up and brought another person to fall. There’s some implied regret in there, but honestly, it’s kind of tricky to visualize the scene that’s painted here.

 

Song still sounds good though so there’s that.

 

 

THYX – My Own Little World (8.5): I must say that as far as the music goes, this reminds me more of R.E.T.R.O. than canon Mind.in.a.box. There’s no connection to any Commodore 64 games and an entirely modern tone to it, but the bassline seems to remind me more of R.E.T.R.O. than the other 6 albums in the Mind.in.a.box discography. The bassline is especially responsible. Mind.in.a.box seems to tend towards incredibly fast arps for its bass or slower smoother basslines for its calmer tracks. This one appears halfway between, somewhat similarly to all of the video game covers from R.E.T.R.O. Either way, the bassline is only really relevant near the beginning of the song. I barely notice it later on as it takes a backseat to everything else.

 

Everything else has some decent development to it as every instrument intensifies as it goes on. The drumbeat starts off rather calmly with a few beats here and there, but by the end of the song, it has a strong prominent syncopated pattern. Not overwhelmingly energetic but still stronger than where it began. Also, the main melodic instrument of this song, I mistook for a simple ambient element, but by the end of the song, it morphs into a full-on guitar solo (less energetic than most, but still much more powerful). Even the vocals start with a whisper and end in a passionate cry.

 

And those vocals tell a fantastically relatable story. Not an overwhelming narrative story as in the other alias, but instead focuses more on the themes of Black’s journey without delving into the specifics of the Agency and the Sleepwalkers and everything else my favorite artist throws at us. Think of this song as an accompaniment to the themes of Machine Run and Redefined, though not nearly as powerful as the connection between those two greatly heighten my enjoyment. Plus, it’s focused more on the isolated sense of self one has in a crowd full of people. In my experience, the overwhelming pressures of society often cause me to keel under my own suffocated desires and isolate myself into any form of escapism I can. It’s the easy way out, but it’s not the healthy way out.

 

I too desire to renounce my habit of isolation that only poisons me slowly as I shut out even the projects I value (like this blog I find myself procrastinating on too often). I too, desire to change.

 

THYX – The Way Home (6.25): Titular track! Let’s take a look…

 

The last two songs had rather harsh beginnings. Gritty drums. Strong basslines. This song however opts for something calmer. One echoing simple melody. A mysterious way to start this song for the first 15 seconds before getting that bassline (and technological arp of course) introduced. Unfortunately, from there, the song doesn’t go through too many changes. It definitely sounds good, but instead of morphing over the impressive seven-minute duration, the song is really just easily divided into two sections. The first half being the upbeat 4 on 4 section (which I already just described) and the second half being a slower paced calmer vibe where the vocals serve as the main highlight. The second half is an appreciated change in pace, but it isn’t especially musically remarkable, and it doesn’t provide quite enough variety to justify the seven minutes.

 

The lyrics that those vocals present to us though, are incredibly cryptic and all too difficult decipher. I really wanted to try and scrounge up a meaning, but it all seems to be some sort of hallucination or dream (web?). There are some mentions of destiny and the world passing by which are neat concepts that are explored better elsewhere. But there’s no real narrative or message between them here so I guess we’ll move on.

 

 

THYX – Underdive (8.5): Kicking the album back into overdrive, we have the song titled Underdrive (don’t ask questions, just go with it).

 

Underdrive marks one of our peak for upbeat on this album. There are a few others that are fantastically upbeat too, but there’s only one that comes even close (which I’ll obviously talk about later. but this one does serve as one of the most energetic outings of THYX’s debut. There’s an incredibly solid kicking pulsing from beginning to end without a break. It doesn’t really tire though as the rest of the song provides plenty of variety (including a snare to keep the drumbeat bit more interesting). Plus, Poiss adds some signature arps which only increases that drive to new levels thanks to the rapid progressions. There’s also a bassline in there that’s a bit interesting, but it doesn’t really contribute to the drive of Underdrive so I’m going to pretend it’s irrelevant (my excuse for not having much to say about it other than it’s interesting).

 

So, the music is nice and simple. Easy to sum up and yet quite solid. Are the lyrics equally simple? Well they certainly aren’t as cryptic as The Way Home, so they’re at least simpler to look through. However, that does mean I actually have more to talk about seeing as there’s some actual meaning to this one. This soul-baring track is all about delving deep into one’s own soul. Trying to make sense of the inner workings of one’s mind while also making sure to keep a hold on the outside world. You can dive deep into the unknown soul for some time but you must always come up for air by finding what’s real. The journey of self-discover never truly ends and it’s important to keep a level head throughout.

 

Oh and one last odd thing to mention is how sometimes when Poiss sings “Back on track” it sounds like he’s bleating like a sheep. This doesn’t really affect my rating of the song in the way. I just find it to be amusing.

 

 

THYX – Black Hole (7.5): Following the incredibly driving song known as Underdrive, we have a song named after the enigmatic black hole, an area in space that bends reality to a point where its gravitational force sucks in everything around it, including light itself. Obviously, such an intense unrelenting object from beyond the stars would be one of the most intense song on the album, right?

 

Well, as Underdrive has shown, titles can be deceiving. Black Hole is actually one of the slowest and least energetic songs of the album. Compared to the last song, every melody and drumbeat here is progressing at a crawling speed. Looking at the arp alone, you can easily hear the beginning and end of each note. But that still doesn’t prevent the chord progression from moving smoothly from chord to chord. This arp takes the brunt of the music in this song alongside some soothing pads and a drumbeat that joins the song halfway through. These drums do give the song a slight bit more of a drive, but it’s still incredibly slow paced compared to the rest of the album.

 

However, while the tempo doesn’t fit the title Black Hole, the song isn’t fully false advertising. A Black hole isn’t just defined by a dead star that bends reality with its own gravity. It’s also a void of complete and utter darkness. And these lyrics are the bleakest this album has to offer. Even the vocals themselves sound as if the singer (almost said Black but had to remind myself this isn’t in any way canon to that auditory universe) has completely given up hope. And the lyrics? Even bleaker. Black Hole is about regret and the inevitability of failure. It declares life to be dark, cold and hopeless. And yet, somehow as the song closes, there’s one last bit of false advertising. “Together we will find another place… I will bring us home.” Hope may seem lost at certain points in life, but sometimes one just needs to move forward to find a new place to find peace. There is always hope.

 

THYX – Awesome (6.5): Continuing with the trend of false advertising, we have Awesome. Awesome isn’t awesome. Oh, it’s not a bad song, but it doesn’t really stand out in the slightest. Really just run of the mill for the album. Solid drumbeat. Good bassline to accompany that drive. And a melody to add a little bit of flavor to the rest. Overall, the song is pretty groovy. Not much variation, but the song is short enough that it doesn’t matter. Plus, it has some great robotic vocals that allow it to stand out among the other songs (which mostly use cleaner vocals).

 

The lyrics are a bit odd though. Poiss keeps on switching between three different vocal sections. The first is a conversation two robots have between themselves on how awesome the song is. I personally find awesome to be a stronger adjective than necessary, but these robots don’t think it’s strong enough, so they make sure to strengthen that adjective with some choice intensifiers that cause this song to be labeled explicit. Probably the most amusing of the three lyrical sections.

 

The second vocal section I hesitate to call lyrical, because it sounds like it’s made entirely of chopped up vocals so that they can be used as more of an instrument rather than a vehicle for words. Or maybe there are lyrics in this part too… I can’t make them out… and no matter where I search, I can’t find any sources that give me a hint of what could possibly be said.

 

The cleaner vocal section is a bit clearer though it really just sounds like the singer just wants to be told whatever it is that he wants to hear. Apparently what he wants to hear is endless ramblings on how this song is awesome. Oh… and he also wants poison… ok…

 

This song is not awesome but it’s good enough

 

THYX – Snow in July (8.25): Ok, not false advertising really, but it doesn’t snow in July. Or at least it shouldn’t. But it snows in April up here in Wisconsin so hey it’s a possibility. An unwanted possibility but a possibility, nonetheless. As far as I can tell, snow in July is an inconsequential concept to this song other than in title so hey maybe it is false advertising in a way. Not sure what it was advertising, but I don’t think we got it.

 

Snow in July is one of the most enjoyable songs to listen to on this album. It’s got plenty to offer and plenty to love. The variety in this song stems from how it becomes more powerful over time. It’s not quite as dynamic as My Own Little World, but still notable. The intro probably has the most rapid change as it starts out quite completely calm with the bass and the vocals echoing in the distance. But as time goes one, the drumbeat draws the vocals and bass closer together, reaching a passionate high as the singer (again, not Black, old habits die hard) declares he’s not better than the rest. From there, the song continues to build more as it introduced more melodies, more syncopated drum patterns and the most technological vibe in the album (or at least I find it to be the closest to the usual Mind.in.a.box style)

 

Oh and before I go on to the lyrics, I wanted to make sure I mentioned how much I adore the way the Poiss pushes the upper limits of his vocal range. I think I’d mentioned this in a previous review but a sudden increase in pitch in male vocals makes a song incredibly enjoyable to sign along to. They’re challenging their vocal range, so perhaps I shall too.

 

While the music is definitely enjoyable, I find the lyrics to be a bit iffy. Oddly, when I was first listening to this song while preparing for this review, I had the impression that this song was about finding your place in society as you reach your goals, making this one of the more inspiring songs of the album. I was partly right. Yes, there are glimpses of the inspiring aspects I mentioned (which was probably what threw me off), but there is an unfulfilled tone to it all. Yes, goals have been reached, but immediately after he claims that nothing has improved and nothing matters. He’s just another face in the crowd no better than anyone else. You know. Typical existential despair.

 

 

THYX – In the Past (7.25): Really not going to spend too long talking about the music this time. It’s a rather simple song with medium tempo and a nice groovy arp and the occasional guitar riff. Plus, it has a decent melody at the end that reminds me of classic Aviators (who you probably don’t know but I plan on reviewing him next week, so you’ll know soon). That’s pretty much it. Really not much variety in this one. That’s fine though. At least it’s not overwhelmingly long

 

Plus, we’ve got lyrics to make the song a bit more interesting. This song is a bit of a grab bag. The song starts and ends with themes of misplaced anger, a man wanting vengeance and yet no knowing why. He’s forgotten a piece of his past I guess (strangely similar to the Mind.in.a.box universe, but again, this stuff isn’t canon). There’s also a few lyrics in the middle of the song that reflect more on the isolation that was introduced in My Own Little World. And for a fourth theme, Poiss’ favorite theme, we have change, escaping the monotony and trying to find a way to move on to the next chapter in life. Change will happen, but it’ll happen more quickly if you work for it before the doors close around you.

 

This song has a lot of great ideas as you can see, but it’s so eclectic that I feel it would be a bit better if there was more focus. Thankfully, there’s plenty of other songs in this album and the Mind.in.a.box discography that do a lot better

 

THYX – Into the Realm (8.25): Into the Past, Into the Realm. Regardless of the song, we’re going in.

 

This song’s calmness rivals the relaxation of Black Hole, spending much of its time devoted to the ambient chords and a simple drumbeat and bassline. None of it is intrusive, but for the first bit of the song, none of it significant either. I actually don’t care much about the music of this song until after it breaks the mold of being relaxing. Around one and a half minutes, the song quits rivaling Black Hole with its utter relaxation and offers up a more upbeat chorus. The song still uses a rather medium tempo with only a tiny bit of syncopation, but it’s enough to break the silence it once shared with Black Hole. The song still remains relatively chill though. Just not the chilliest it could be.

 

And that’s fine. My opinion of Into the Realm is mostly about lyrics anyway. This song rivals Black Hole in another way by diving into some extremely bleak themes and ideas. And this time around, Into the Realm wins (Black Hole isn’t the darkest song on the album? False advertising!). Like a few of the other songs I’ve gone over in this album. Into the Realm is about isolation. But this song is the most broken of the bunch. The whole song is apathetic to existence, tortured by the monotony, trapped in an undesirable place in one’s life, and closing the entire world out, suffering alone…

 

This song is the darkest I can go without spilling over into overly edgy Ashbury Heights territory. And these days, it’s hitting me a bit too close right now.

 

THYX – No Voices (8.25): Just as Into the Realm attempted to rival Black Holes in its calmness. No Voices attempt to rival Underdrive in its intense drive. It’s not completely upbeat during the entire song, but that doesn’t prevent it from winning the battle. Not only is the BPM faster i ngeneral, there are several elements to this song that reach heights of speed that make them sound slower than they really are. Makes sense? Probably not, but maybe I need to be more specific. Look at the arp. It may be difficult to notice it’s there at the points, not only because nearly everything else is so loud, but because the notes play so undeniably quick. The song is already at 160 BPM as it is. And seeing as the arps sound like they’re made completely of sixteenth notes, that means that the arp is at a speed of 640 BPM. Not to mention the hats, which when present also seem to blend in with each other due to their speed.

 

Other than the insane breakneck speed this song has, there’s some other elements that make the song stand out among the rest. The song sounds the most experimental overall, as many if the instruments sound crushed and glitched. The bassline is quite odd from the beginning, as it sounds like it’s made of several layers of overly distorted noise, though hit does so in a way, that is strangely pleasant to my ears. There’s some synths that reach a pitch that could very nearly be piercing, but they barely skim the upper limits without breaking the painful threshold for me. The chord progression is rather simple, as it simply climbs upwards repeating the same four chords again and again, but it really adds to the intensity to the track. And lastly, the lyrics are repetitive, but the vocals are not as it sounds like every iteration of “No voices in my brain” has a different tone to it. It’s all unique and it all works.

 

No voices in my brain. Sounds like a good thing to me. Don’t know about you, but if there were voices in my brain, I’d find that a little bit horrifying, especially because in many narratives, voices that intrude on one’s brain tend to be of the malicious variety. I guess, if it was a friendly voice that just spoke nonchalantly of pleasant things, some of them being direct encouragement and others being just general fun things that the voice was interested in, I’d be totally into the company. A shame that this song implies that such a voice isn’t there. It certainly isn’t there in my life. Or maybe the voice is more subtle. What if the voices refer to thoughts themselves, the internal train of though in which we speak to ourselves in our head: neutral voice that sometimes ends up positive, sometimes ends up negative, but most importantly, the voice that truly represents our own true identity.

 

I don’t want to lose those voices…

 

THYX – Crack It (6): The conclusion of this album is kind of underwhelming. It’s not bad, but it also pales in comparison to many of the other songs, especially because the second half of the album is quite high quality. I guess part of it has to do with the fact that there’s no lyrical content to rely on, yeah there are vocals, but all of it is chopped up and nonlyrical, so there’s no unique message that could possibly heighten my experience. However, I guess that does serve to make this song a bit more unique. That’s really all the song has to offer though. The rest is rather unremarkable. It’s slow but not relaxing. It’s absolutely repetitive. And it takes way too long to fade out in the end.

 

Honestly that’s all I have to say on this song though. Bit of a lame ending in comparison to what preceded it, but they can’t all be winners.

 

Conclusion: The Way Home was quite an interesting album to review as I went in here completely blind (just haven’t found the time to listen to THYX for some reason despite being aware of the alias). Overall, I do enjoy the divergence from Mind.in.a.box. It has a slightly different feeling than Mind.in.a.box as this album did not stray from the technological instruments in the slightest, while Mind.in.a.box has been consistently using pianos and guitars. I do miss the narrative and that is part of what’s preventing this album from being solid like the Mind.in.a.box albums I reviewed, but it’s still a well-enjoyed experience.

 

Final Score: (7.5/10)

 

 

Infected Mushroom – Converting Vegetarians (2003 album) pt 2/2

Part 2 – Other Side

 

Album links

Bandcamp: n/a

Soundcloud (Other Side only): https://soundcloud.com/infectedmushroom/sets/converting-vegetarians-the

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/3LbcBylGvC80f5OTeQaVuM?si=DRj2Ry1zQ1qfIxNXrcvF9A

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL718C82948CE653CE

 

Introduction: Alright! Time for the Converting Vegetarians review part 2! Not to be confused with the Converted Vegetarians part 2 review. That comes much later.

 

Anyways, we’re in for something a little different today. Last week was all psytrance so it felt a lot like one of the other Infected Mushroom albums I reviewed. The other half of the album however… the other side… It’s absolutely completely different. I guess I’ll let the music do the talking. I’d written the first half of this reviews if I’d release it all at once along with the Trance Side but that didn’t happen. So let’s just dive right in and let my words on the song, Converting Vegetarians tell you about the album, Converting Vegetarians.

 

Infected Mushroom – Converting Vegetarians (7.5): When the titular song of this album introduces itself, it ends up slightly jarring. The first ten songs all shared a common theme and together formed the “Trance Side” of the album. The “Other Side” has no theme to it. Unless you count the perpetual state of being odd in general to be a theme. Because a healthy portion of these songs are simply odd. Even if this was how the album began without over an hour of trance setting a precedent, the song is such a strange mixture of textural instruments and distorted vocals, that the majority of listeners might be initially put off by the vibes that Infected Mushroom is introducing in this album

 

I, however, love it.

 

I’m all for variety and this song definitely delivers on that front. There is such an interesting variety of carefully placed chaotic patterns to keep the song fresh and engaging throughout. Instead of catering to the psytrance side that Infected Mushroom has been known for up to this point, this song explores every corner of Infected Mushroom’s sound design, deconstructs it and reconstructs it into something new. The song takes on a slower pace with plentiful basslines, some a little too screechy (only true negative of the song in my opinion) and others that have a very deep unique groove. My favorite instruments in the song have to be the fully vocal ones though. The broken scatsinging in the background as well as the various voices used to display these lyrics (ranging from calm and slightly distorted to a cleaner voice belting out the lyrics without concern of losing his voice).

 

Those lyrics though… Oh boy do I have some lyrics to decipher. I mean, the likely goal of this song was to make a statement that the two of them aren’t limiting themselves to just the one genre any more. They shan’t sell out and give the people exactly what they want and expect, but instead explore other areas of their soundscape. It’s a song about transformation. And those that had been solely consuming their psytrance shallf be converted from their vegetarian diet (apparently psytrance contains no meat), to larger variety of genres (some of which is likely steak, I would like some steak right now, thanks).

 

However, I do find the mention that they’ve been converting these vegetarians since 1996 to be rather odd. If you remember back in my first review on this site, their first album dropped in 1999. Previous to that, they did release a song on a compilation 1998, but that’s still not back in 1996? What could have happened in 1996? I was born in 1996… Perhaps my meat looks so succulent that any vegetarian that looks at me suddenly wants to eat meat… Cook me up and take bite after bite of my flesh…

 

Oh wait. Erez and Duvdev started making music in 1996… They just weren’t Infected Mushroom at the time. Thank Wikipedia for easing my fears of sudden cannibals gazing hungrily at me (please don’t eat me).

 

Infected Mushroom – Elation Station (6.75): As we move deeper into the Other Side of the album, we’re met with many of the most relaxing tracks in the entire Infected Mushroom discography. Up until this point, most of the discography has been hard-hitting psytrance (and whatever that last song was).

 

For much of the song, Elation Station’s main focus is a simple piano melody. It’s the sole instrument at the beginning of the song and it isn’t until a good thirty seconds that any other significant instruments enter into the song. Some relaxing guitar, a calming arp, a slight bassline that’s more on the smooth side rather than funky or bouncy with a drumbeat to match. All relaxing elements.

 

And then that other synth comes in at one and quarter minutes in. I’m not as elated about this synth as the rest of the song. It feels a bit unfitting to the relaxing vibe that’s displayed in the beginning of this track as well as the end. The song would be a bit higher in rating if this synth felt a bit more polished, but it doesn’t distract too much from the relaxation, so I’ll give it a pass.

 

The middle, however, isn’t relaxing. It’s something else entirely. You may remember that the bassline this song introduces at the beginning is merely smooth. No funk. No bounce. The bassline introduced for the middle third of this song is the complete opposite of that. It’s all funk. This song is a funk sandwich with nearly relaxing bread. A funk sandwich that I would gladly assume is meat (not sure what kind of meat, funk is, but I’m going to eat it regardless). It starts out funky enough 2;20, but it only grows funkier as it goes on. Take a break to focus on some horns? It only gets funkier. Distort them a second to make them an octave lower? It only gets funkier. Get rid of the bassline entirely and return to the near relaxation the song started with? Well, the bassline doesn’t return after that, but I’m sure if it did, it would be incredibly funky.

 

Infected Mushroom – Drop Out (7): I’d say Drop Out is a strange song, but that could be said about nearly every song on the second half of this album, so I’ll try to restrain myself from saying such obvious things in the future.

 

It is quite strange though.

 

Let’s start with the overall feeling that this song has with the music. A lot of the song, especially in the beginning and the end has a lot of focus on a calmer glitched out vibe, not as calm as Elation Station, mind you, but still overall more relaxing than intense. And while the glitches with the drumbeats and strange arps and vocals do somewhat conflict with the relaxing mood, I feel that this song strays from the relaxing vibe in so many ways, that the glitched out behavior of several of the instruments (and those vocals) becomes the new overall feeling the song has. It’s not relaxing in a soothing way. It’s relaxing in a trippy mind-bending way. Regardless, this song’s relaxation works.

 

One part of the song that stands out, fitting perhaps the pure relaxation parts of this song, would be the guitar section in the middle. I don’t have much in particular to say about this, but I will make sure to mention that the guitar does a great job of providing a break between the strange vocals and other glitches, allowing one to get lost in the beauty of the simpler elements of the song. The more rock-oriented guitar near the end of the track serves a similar purpose, though I find it slightly less enjoyable and relaxing (It’s rock. rock is less relaxing than acoustic. That’s just how it works).

 

Speaking of the beauty of simple things, let’s take a quick look at the little lyrical content this song has to offer. When it comes to the lyrics, my original guess for the meaning of this song would be about dropping out of school as I have an innocent mind that views that quote of breaking free of the restrictions of thinking that the modern education system seems to enforce on the progressing generations as time goes on.

 

However, seeing as I’ve discovered this sample comes from an LSD documentary, it’s probably about dropping out of reality…

 

Via drugs.

 

Sometimes, you can’t escape the psychedelic messages songs of this genre display

 

Infected Mushroom – Avratz (7.75): Avratz passes by Dancing with Kadafi, becoming the longest song in the discography (up to this point). Beat it out by an entire second. Fantastic lead, I must say. When it comes to lengthy songs like this one, I must always ask whether or not the song uses enough variety to justify its length. In other words, does it count as a journey through sound? I’ll say yes in this case. It takes a long while for the song to pick up momentum on its journey, but the second half of the song has enough elements that make up for the slow beginning.

 

And I mean slow in two different ways. Not only does the song take a lengthy amount of time to get started, the music at this portion of the song is incredibly calm, focusing almost entirely on one simple melody that repeatedly climbs up and down. For the first two minutes, that’s all there is. Maybe a drumbeat here and there, but that variety isn’t looking quite good so far.

 

Thankfully, the conclusion of those two minute brings in a new piano melody. It’s a small change, but it’s entirely necessary to prevent me from losing my mind to the numb unchanging status quo. That being said, it does allow for some beautiful elements to be added to that melody the plays throughout much of the song, even beyond the halfway mark. It starts out quite beautiful though it does get distorted halfway through, but distortion is somewhat of a main them in this album so that’s to be expected.

 

The second half of the song is a bit more upbeat than what’s been shown so far. This upbeat switchup is where the song really kicks it up a notch. I don’t have time to go into every single element that this song throws into the mix so here’s a quick rapidfire rundown. We’ve got the more upbeat drumbeat with the introduction of a bassline that’s been missing for far too long. We’ve got some distorted vocals added in early on in this second half as well as bringing the song towards its conclusion (the latter being my preferred vocal bit). We’ve got a good progression of the bassline and the drums becoming more intense as the song goes on. We’ve got a sudden half time portion with a combination of a slightly more guttural bassline and a new relaxing guitar melody. We’ve got strings. We’ve got oddly unique arps that contrast with the rest of the song (in a good way unlike Elation Station). We’ve got a bassline that feels pleasantly broken as it builds up towards the conclusion of the song along with those vocals I mentioned earlier. And then there’s the bookend throwing back to the melody that started it all. Playing the song on loop makes it tricky to determine where exactly the song ends and starts anew.

 

All in all, this song is incredibly relaxing to the point where I almost fell asleep several times trying to review this song. Or maybe I’m just tired…

 

Infected Mushroom & Michelle Adamson – Blink (6.25): Blink is a strange song. I know I said I’d stop mentioning that, but when Michelle Adamson (spent a bit of time searching for that vocalist’s name, but I think I got it right) joins in to provide her vocals, it’s hard to say it just blends in with the usual oddity that makes up this album.

 

And I do believe that Michelle adds the most to this strange feeling this song gives my gut. After all, much of the music matches the vibe I’ve been getting used to as I listen through the Other Side. The bassline is slightly groovier, but it isn’t really groundbreaking in the same way that Elation Station’s is. The song has a solid halftime drumbeat that isn’t quite as glitchy as in Drop Out. There’s several mysterious synths that have somewhat of a relaxing feel to them, but Avratz has more. Converting Vegetarian’s vocals are much more heavily distorted.

 

But that doesn’t matter because Michelle’s vocals are more unsettling and discomforting with minimal distortion. I don’t dislike them. I just find them a bit… odd. The bridge especially sends chills up my spine. Her whispers as she talks of conquering demons and ignoring lizards feel as if they might be distorted, but it sounds so natural that I’m nearly convinced she might be some sort of otherworldly being herself.

 

As for the lyrics, it’s incredibly cryptic, but I’m not fully certain there was truly “no smoking or drinking” as they were being written. I’ve already mentioned the demon conquering and lizard whisper ignoring as I talked of the vocals. But there’s so much more in here that raises strange questions. There seems to be a song in her head leading her towards death. Then again, does that even matter because she also said she’s already dead (maybe inside?). And then there’s speak of bonding one’s mind in an intimate transcendent experience

 

Yeah, this one’s probably about drugs too. The Infected Mushrooms are not exactly subtle this time around.

 

Infected Mushrooom – Shakawkaw (7.75): Shakakaw is a short fun song with an entirely different feeling than Blink (especially in the vocals). Much of the song keeps a chill atmosphere to it, somewhat similar to the first half of Avratz with a simple melody dominating much of the song. That’s where the similarities end. Thankfully, this song develops much more quickly, adding more variety in the first minute that the calmer portion of Avratz did in its entirety (this song is over before Avratz really got going).

 

The simple melody is quite nice, but the instruments introduced to compliment are quite enjoyable. The bassline has a slight funk to it, most staying in the background, but definitely driving the song forward. There’s a couple of synths that contribute to the odd environment that’s integral to any song off of the second half of this album. Oh and the guitar.

 

The guitar definitely steals the show in its brief tenure. That seems to be typical on this album. Whenever, a guitar comes in, it’s the best part of the song for that moment adding in some beauty to the otherwise gritty oddity that is this album.

 

But the guitar isn’t the focus of the song. As awesome as it is, it’s not the most memorable part. The most memorable part would have to go to the vocals and their fantastic “lyrical content.” Ok, actually it’s just some guy yelling out the amusing title of the song, but that’s really the heart of what makes listening to this song so fun. Even when the “lyrics” stop, you can hear the singer who sun his heart out laughing as the song fades away. And rightfully so. This song is ridiculously amusing.

 

Infected Mushroom – Pletzurra (8.25): Pletzurra develops quite interestingly, especially near the end. But in order to truly appreciate the development of a song like this, I must first tell you of the trippy ambience at the beginning. There’s a pad whispering in my ear as the drumbeat begins and the piano joins in. Eventually, the oddly ominous gets covered up with all of the other instruments that make up this song in an attempt to send it back to the eternal abyss it came from. But just as the abyss is an eternal construct that we stare into throughout our life, the ominous pad is also eternal and never truly leaves the song. It’s always there.

 

Always waiting.

 

For something. Not sure what. It’s kind of just there.

 

Not exactly as ominous if nothing happens.

 

Unless something is happening and I’m just not noticing it.

 

Now, that’s ominous.

 

Maybe.

 

Ominous distractions aside, I’m glad that many instruments come in to cover up the ominous bits. Not because I hate that pad. I find it quite interesting. No, it’s because everything that this song adds to the mix from this point onwards is quite a pleasure. Or should I say Pleasuretzura? (I’ve decided I shouldn’t have said that. Forgive me for not leaving this pun alone). The piano in this song is one of the first things to start covering up that pad, providing the most beautiful melody on the entire album. With the help of a slight bassline, they cover up the ominousness almost completely. At least enough so that it’s no longer infecting my brain.

 

From there, the song takes a step back in quality, briefly being played through a lower filter, almost as if we were listening to a recording of the song being played on the radio. You can even here the tape spinning as the vocals begin to introduce themselves. The vocals sound pained at first but slowly develop over time to a more confident melody. None of it has lyrics of course, it’s merely a manifestation of overcoming pain with a choir to back it up. Probably reading too deep into it with that last sentence, but that’s the roll I’m on right now. Eventually the deep singing grows to be quite beautiful, the drums and the bassline do return to an ominous vibe. Thankfully though there’s a second melody and strings to cover it up as the song brings itself to close, proving itself to be an overall relaxing piece of music…

 

PSYCH! This song has a BANJO! And it’s AWESOME!

 

Infected Mushroom – I Wish (9.25): Undeniably my favorite song on the album. I’ve been listening through this album a lot as of late, trying to learn these songs inside and out and out and every single time this one comes on, I can’t help but sing along with that chorus over and over and over again. I guess I sing along to Shakawkaw too when it comes up, but that one’s more amusing than anything else. This one actually has meaning behind its lyrics. And unlike the trippy songs featuring Michelle Adamson (yeah there’s another one I’ll get to in a bit), I find these lyrics to be both decipherable and inspiring.

 

But music first. The music is great too. This time it’s all about the bassline. Well I guess there’s some other cool things too, a good chord progression, some syncopated drums with a few variations here and there. There are some slight whispering vocals in the background for a bit. And uh… the rest is bassline. And the bassline is great. The bassline has two elements to it. There’s the swinging more heavily distorted bass spotlighted best at the beginning of the song as well as after each chorus. And then there’s the more constant arpeggiated bassline that underlies the song’s drive. Together, these two parts of the bassline keep this song moving for the three minutes it exists. Not too much variety, but that doesn’t bother me too much. It’s the vocals that stand out.

 

First off, while I’d love to get into the lyrics, I did lie a little bit when I said this song is all about bassline. Sometimes, under certain circumstances, I’d consider vocals to be an instrument of their own. And this song is definitely one of those circumstances. These vocals are the most heavily distorted on the album. The immediate stuttering as soon as the first verse starts. The way each note seems to dance up and down, constantly wavering in tone. The end of each line being held perhaps a fraction of a second longer than you’d expect half the time and completely glitching out the other half of the time. It all comes to a head with the extremely catch chorus. Not only is the music best here because of the prominent chords, but the vocals are almost clean here except for a couple of perfectly placed accents at the end of some of the lines. The way the pitch slides upwards on “game” and “rain” is absolutely fantastic. I have a fondness for when male vocals suddenly soar in pitch without any pretense.

 

As for the lyrics, this song is about fresh beginnings (funny how often that message comes up in reviews of my favorite artists, wonder if that’s why I like them or if that just means I’m extrapolating my own meaning in order to match my innermost values). I Wish compares life itself to a game, a game that we won’t stop playing until the end of our time. Now, exactly how this game has gone in the past is a bit unclear, but there is something to look at through the singer’s desires to play the game without fears and regrets as well as his desire to rewind and kick it from the start. It’s clear that his past experience with this game has been… less than stellar. But like I said, he wishes to abandon those fears and regrets and start again with a fresh game. A game in which he takes control of his life and gives it his best possible. Sure, rewinding time would be nice (I’ve desired to do so more than once), but sometimes the main focus should be to be to push through the game, letting the rain ash away the flaws that hold you back.

 

Again though, I am likely extrapolating. Much of what I’m getting out of this song is somewhat vague. I enjoy it regardless.

 

Infected Mushroom – Ballerium (6.75): It’s always difficult to review a decent song after a spectacular song. Comparatively speaking, Ballerium certainly has nothing on I wish, but I still feel it’s an alright track. Has a good groove to it at points and it does stand out as one of the more minimalistic songs on the album, especially near the beginning. It has an ok variety to it, but much like Scorpion Frog from The Trance Side, most of it just kind of happens.

 

I think my main problem with this song is just how minimalistic it is. There are several points in the song where it feels empty, no ambience, just a couple basslines and a drumbeat. And while the basslines are relatively decent and the kick and snare definitely are stronger compared to many for the songs on this album, they don’t really hold up the song on their own.

 

Thankfully, the song does get better in the second half as there’s more melodies introduced here as well as a couple guitar riffs that add some nice flavor. The best addition to the song comes towards the end for we have a build-up from nothing featuring some gorgeous vocals spotlighted as all the other instruments have faded away. The way the bassline progresses (which serves as the build-up from the build-up from nothing) is also quite interesting during its brief stay before being taken over a bouncier outro. The last bit of the song’s vocals serves as a nice journey even if the song is a little lesser overall.

 

And that’s all there is to say.

 

Infected Mushroom – Selecta (8.25): It seems that on this album, even the most upbeat songs usually start out with a calmer section to build up to the upbeat. This song, despite being upbeat, isn’t one of those songs. No, Selecta wastes no time in getting that 140 BPM tempo out there in the open. Almost sounds like it should be on the Trance Side. It shouldn’t be though. I’ll show you why at the end.

 

The beginning of the song does differ slightly from psytrance. The psytrance bassline isn’t quite as prominent as usual, though the bassline it’s replaced with is still quite fast-paced. Plus a lot of the instrumentation does have a good balance between Trance Side vibes and Other Side vibes as it incorporates a lot of the new sound design without going overboard.

 

However, while I wouldn’t describe the introduction of this song as chill, there are some moments in this song that are a bit more relaxing than most. In particular there’s the middle section of the song winding down a bit after the two-minute mark. The drumbeat doesn’t change at all and the bassline is still there, but somehow the beauty of the new pad, overwhelms all of the energy and provides a soothing relaxation without eliminating the drumbeat entirely. Yes, after about thirty seconds there is a short bit where the drum is replaced by a simple melody instead, but that “nothing” part of the build-up from nothing only lasts a short bit before the “build-up” of the build-up nothing quickly returns.

 

The conclusion of this song is where things get a little bit iffy. This song does not belong on the Trance Side. Because out of nowhere, we have a funky little tune that feels more out of place than the banjo in Pletzurra. There is a piano appearing seconds earlier that might hint towards this little tune, but it sure ain’t an amusing little ditty like this one right here. Also, no horns. No funky little melody. This ending is just different…

 

Yeah, this doesn’t belong on the Trance Side and all.

 

Sure was fun though.

 

Infected Mushroom & Michelle Adamson – Illuminaughty (7): Michelle is back for round 2. Of course, that means we’re going to get into some whispery vocals with cryptic mysterious lyrics, but that can be an interesting divergence sometimes.

 

Now, I’m really tempted to compare the music of this song to Blink, but that’s technically not fair, because despite having the same singer, Blink and Illuminaughty sound like completely different songs. Blink was much slower paced and concentrated more on a funky bassline. Illuminaughty has a much more mysterious instrumental and I must say, I enjoy this one more. A lot of it has to do with it meshing better with Michelle’s mysterious vocals, but there’s also a lot more subtlety to this song in comparison to Blink. The ambient pads and the arps mesh together well when they’re alone and the bassline and drums enter smoothly onto the scene whenever it’s their turn to shine. Blink was by no means bad, but Illuminaughty brings it up a notch.

 

As for the vocals and lyrics, there aren’t quite as many whispers as in Blink, but the song is still the same level of unsettling, again raising the odd question of whether or not she’s truly human. An odd fantastical conspiracy theory that’s likely ridiculously untrue, but she does do some good convincing that she’s fallen from some other realm into ours. However, I’ve been looking over these lyrics and I find them to be so incredibly cryptic that I have so little to analyze. There’s mention of tasting the fruit which likely refers to the Garden of Eden (though in a completely different tone than in Andy Hunter – To Life to Love). And she also continues to walk the line between life and death, committing to neither side. Other than that, I have absolutely no idea what to say.

 

Infected Mushroom – Jeenge (6.75): This song immediately starts with the guitar that often steals the show in the other songs that present the stringed instrument. This time, it doesn’t really steal the show so much. That’s because whenever it’s present, there is no show to steal. The song instead opts for minimalism again. Though this time there’s absolutely nothing interesting in much of the front half of the song except for the guitar. The bassline is ok, but it doesn’t really stand out until the midpoint of the song.

 

That’s when things get a bit funky. The bassline has a more dynamic bounce to it and allows for a bit more variation it develops over the next four minutes as it bounces against other melodies and basslines. My favorite part of the song has to be the bass pattern introduced about five and a half minutes in. Not only does it have a nice swing to it, but every four bars it has a quick unexpected variation with shorter notes. It’s a fun moment, but unfortunately the front half of the song isn’t quite as fun.

 

 

Infected – Mushroom – Elevation (7.75): Final song on this all too lengthy album. Having 23 songs to review is a bit much for me, so I’m glad that there’s a divide in the middle of the album between Trance Side and Other Side. It made this whole review so much easier to handle. This album ends with its most relaxing track, it’s all ambience, piano and strings and all of it is soothing in comparison to the trippy textured instruments that clustered the rest of Other Side. Unfortunately, such a relaxing track doesn’t leave me with much to say. Maybe I’m having review fatigue…

 

The most important thing I can think of to say is that all of the elements in this song really have a beautiful feel to them and some of them mesh so nicely with the rest of the song, that I didn’t even notice them a first, though they do have an important supporting role in the song. The bassline especially fits this description as it’s always covered up by the higher ambience and strings whenever it’s present. The drums have a bit of a complex vibe too, made up of many of the same distorted synths we’ve seen on other songs, but they’ve been chilled down several notches, so they feel not that unlike a simple drumbeat. Though once I did notice them, I did enjoy the meaty flavor that they added to the song. The ambience also transforms into a stronger synth at some points, but it all feels so natural and relaxing that it fits along the more physical instruments without feeling out of place in the slightest.

 

A beautiful conclusion as we finally bring this alum to a close. Speaking of conclusions…

 

Conclusion: And so, concludes the two-week journey that has been Converting Vegetarians, a fascinatingly interesting album that serves as a transition into the expanding variety in Infected Mushroom’s discography. There’s plenty to offer in this album, but I think the Other Side suits me best. Then again, I might just be saying that because I Wish is on there. I love I Wish.

 

Well, regardless, the variety here shall lead into many fantastical developments in the journey through sound that is Infected Mushroom’s entire discography. We may be exiting the first phase of said discography, but there’s still plenty to catch up on…

 

 

 

Final Score of Trance Side: (7.25)

Final Score of Other Side: (7.5)

Final Score of Full Album: (7.25)

 

Infected Mushroom – Converting Vegetarians (2003 album) pt 1/2

Part 1 – Trance Side

 

Album links

Bandcamp: n/a

Soundcloud (Trance Side only): https://soundcloud.com/infectedmushroom/sets/converting-vegetarians-trance

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/3LbcBylGvC80f5OTeQaVuM?si=DRj2Ry1zQ1qfIxNXrcvF9A

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL718C82948CE653CE

 

Introduction: Ah yes, if I were a vegetarian, then the first thing that would entice me to join the meat-eating side would surely be a human brain skewered on a fish hook. All that knowledge ripe for consuming. Absolutely delicious. Sign me up!

 

Please ignore my odd tastes in… taste as I delve into my much more relevant slightly odd taste in music. Specifically, my taste in Infected Mushroom. The last three albums I’ve reviewed from them have been purely psytrance. This album changes that. Oh yes, the first half, referred to as Trance Side is definitely psytrance and alone would seem much alike the previous three albums (except ten songs instead of nine. How adventurous!)

 

The second half, however, is referred to as Other Side. I’d talk about it here, but I actually haven’t finished reviewing the Other Side yet and so I’m going to be posting this review as a two-parter. I’ll introduce the Other Side next week. This review is going to be long enough as it is.

 

Infected Mushroom – Albibeno (6.5): Alright, let’s dive right in to the first song of the trance side. We’re starting out with a quintessential psytrance song. It has the perfect 145 BPM tempo. It’s got that quick paced bassline that almost feels like a slow arp. All of the synths involve have an unusual trippy vibe to them. What more is there to ask for?

 

Well, when it comes to Infected Mushroom, there’s always a little extra icing on the cake. This track’s layer of icing is a bit thin, but it still has some unique elements that cause it to be held above any ordinary psytrance song. The most substantial of these is definitely the synth at the beginning that almost sounds like a technological arp. Usually when I say technological I end up saying “Oh gee this could be in a Mind.in.a.box song! That’s my favorite artist!” but eh this one is a bit different. And yet, I enjoy it on a near equal level. It has a good haunting vibe to it as it introduces the mysteries this album has to offer. The second appearance of this synth is my favorite moment of the song, specifically because of its incorporation of the bass rumbling in the background, which allows for some suspense to take over for a short while.

 

Other than that, I don’t really have much to say, there’s some other melodies in here that are decent, but they don’t really diverge increasingly much from Infected Mushroom’s established style (though there is the occasional melody that seems a little bit closer to the newer style). This song could definitely have used a bit more variety and I’d have given it a bit of a higher rating if it did, but I find that it still stands out well enough above your typical psytrance song.

 

Infected Mushroom – Hush Mail (6.25): I have no idea what that animal at the beginning of this song is doing but I’m afraid to ask. Whatever kind of diseased creature is making that noise, I’d like it to hush. It’s disturbing me deeply.

 

This animal does remain present throughout the song, but thankfully, the creature spends a significant amount of time buried in all of the other much more enjoyable elements of the song (plus it wasn’t all that bad to begin with, just a little odd). Such coverup elements include some quite industrial drums, your psytrance bassline (plus variations) and another more animalistic distorted instrument that doesn’t disturb quite me as deeply. Altogether, these instruments provide an enjoyable experience along with a few melodies that aren’t special enough to note. In fact, the non-noteworthiness of every thing in this song means that I shall be spending as little time reviewing this part as possible.

 

The animal gives one final growl at the end. Whatever, its issue or activity was, it seems to be over. As is this song.

 

Infected Mushrom – Apogiffa Night (6.75): Apogiffa Night sees itself as such a special song that it starts with its own cinematic introduction to announce its arrival. This just means it puts its best moment at the start of the song. Well, I guess that best moment does return a bit later and it’s nearly equally as good there (nearly because I feel it just works better as an introduction rather than simply being inserted in the middle of the song).

 

Is it special though? Well, compared to that cinematic intro, not excessively much. The intro does definitely improve my overall opinion on the song, but the rest of my experience is admittedly underwhelming. This is the problem when a song puts its best foot forward, but then lets a bunch of slightly above average feet walk on the rest of the song. There are some good moments here and there like the fantastic textural bassline that dominates the song for about half a minute around 5 minutes into the song. But that’s about all that strays from the general path. Most of the song simply trudges forward with decent unrisky psytrance. That’s fine. The duo will make plenty of risks later, and they shall surely pay off.

 

Infected Mushroom – Song Pong (7.75): Song Pong is the song that should be proud enough to warrant some hyped up in an intro, as this is the one that really starts this song on a trend of 7s and greater (with only one song interrupting this pattern near the end). But instead of pumping the song full of energy with a cinematic intro, Song Pong opts for a calmer more soothing vibe in its introduction. There are slight signs of the energy that’s to come, but the main focus of this introduction is the automated pad that fluctuates in pitch as the song progresses. But the most important part is the arp that appears midway through this introduction. This arp is a core element in the essence of Song Pong.

 

There’s a reason this song starts off so soft and smooth. And it’s because, as in actual pong, this song has a tendency to bounce back and forth. Specifically, it bounces back and forth between two moods. The first is calm and soothing providing a chance for the heart rate to relax a little, but this contrasts with the other mood of the song, which is a bit more energetic and upbeat. This beautiful arp serves as the first transition between the two vibes. From there on out, the song does focus mostly on the upbeat vibes of the song, but it does take several short breaks for its 8 minutes of existence, often focusing on introducing new instruments and melodies to the table. Most of them are admittedly not as calm as the introduction, but they still allow for much more variety than the previous songs.

 

Seeing as the upbeat sections take up the brunt of the song and are more or less self-explanatory, I’m going to take a specific look at the calmer portions and how they develop the song. What better way to go over the most significant instruments? The first return to calmness happens at 2:15 and gives a slight nod to where the song started while giving a chance for a new melody to see the spotlight. It had technically already been introduced not long before this calm, but it’s barely noticeable and only becomes significant after the calm that highlights it.

 

Our second break comes in at about 3:45 which introduces a brand-new melody. Yeah, it still has the same texture as the melody that was introduced last time, but the variation is significant enough to highlight. I think I do prefer the first one as the one feels as if it has too much space in between the short notes and it doesn’t quite flow as well with the rest of the track.

 

Heralded in by my favorite arp is the break that at about 5:50 that cuts out many of the melodies briefly, leaving just the kicks and bassline. Of course, the true focus here is the melody that’s introduced shortly after. While the second melody was a downgrade from the first, this one easily is the best in the song. It’s a nice happy medium between the first two melodies (Goldilocks would have said the first was too fast and the second was too slow).

 

And as many of the songs of the first half of this album, this one does a quick bookend with exclusive focus on the pad with the fluctuating pitch, bringing this song to a close.

 

Infected – Mushroom – Chaplin (7.25): Chaplin’s main strength is shown right at the forefront. And this time around, that’s okay. Unlike Apogiffa Night from earlier in the album and Sailing on The Sea of Mushrooms from way back off the Classical Mushroom album, this strong creepy melody is here to stay. Well, it’s not eternally present, but it does return at a couple of instances in the song and that’s plenty more than the other two songs I mentioned. There’s something about this melody that makes the blood in my veins chill ever so slightly each time it reintroduces itself. And yet, I also feel as if the melody is somewhat soothing. It’s as if the melody is putting me into restful mood but I don’t trust it because it’s planning on killing me in my subdued state. I know that’s not actually going to happen, but there’s an instinctual part of me that still fears this melody for no apparent reason.

 

Other than that, this is a good psytrance song that plays a little bit into Infected Mushroom’s more modern distorted vocal style of sound design, while still keeping to the old school psytrance roots that had dominated their discography in the five years preceding this album. Because of that, this song has a fresh groove that is very welcome to the Infected Mushroom discography. However, because my first impressions of Infected Mushroom happened in 2014 with Friends on Mushrooms Vol 3, I have this urge to compare these distorted vocals to the ones of Rise Up and Kipod, the songs that drew me into this discography in the first place. It’s an unfair comparison and I’ll do my best to say that these are pretty solid for their time considering what I’ve looked at so far in these reviews. It’s just that the sound design gets much better over the next decade and beyond. Actually, to be perfectly honest, their sound design undergoes a huge transformation 40 minutes from now, so maybe we should use that as a benchmark.

 

Infected – Mushroom – Echonomix (8.25): Echonomix is a great mix of sounds that have an echo to them. It’s also the study of money and how we use it and all sorts of things (I never studied economics so don’t blame me if I screwed that up).

 

While the latter of those descriptions of the song is a bit irrelevant and not actually very true, the part about this song being a mix of echoing sounds is incredibly true. Every single instrument and melody here has an odd tone to it, much of it due to echoes and phasers. Now, that isn’t entirely unusual for Infected Mushroom, but I feel like it sticks out more distinctly here than many of the other songs in their discography. Let’s do a quick look at each of the echoey instruments that overwhelm this song (which is most of them).

 

The very first moments of this song contain a harmony that has undergone multiple phasers as the echoes of subtle melody scatter in the background. As the song progresses this harmony undergoes multiple transformations, but the echoes are always there. It would be wrong if they weren’t. There’s also a melody introduced in a short break in the song at 1:45. It ends up becoming the highlighted melody for the rest of the song. A plethora of other echoing melodies are introduced at the midpoint of the song, though most of them are just subtle little accents for the song. Really, a lot of them are just notes that happen to have an echo attached to them (they only seem like a melody).

 

There are a few other melodies and arps and drumbeats that don’t echo, but they don’t echo so I’m going to ignore them. Though I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a subtle echo on them that I’m just not noticing. If so, nice job. I wish it was a bit more noticeable.

 

Infected Mushroom – Scorpion Frog (7.25): I’m not entirely sure what a Scorpion Frog is, but it sounds quite deadly. A slimy creature with a scorpion’s tail that can quickly hop towards me? No thanks.

 

Anyways, I painstakingly scoured through the last three albums to see what song these introductory strings are referencing. I could’ve sworn that one of the songs in the last few albums had a nearly identical melody and I thought it would be neat to show off such a little Easter egg. Instead I merely showed myself I was absolutely crazy and delusional. Bust a Move and Dracul have string melodies that sound mildly similar but it’s a strenuous connection at best. Ah well, regardless of where the melody does or doesn’t come from, it sure does have a very similar feeling to the strings that have been displayed throughout Infected Mushroom’s discography so far. Hopefully that was the intention.

 

The rest of this song is one of those journeys through sound. The mood changes from moment to moment and the variety keeps the mind interested and engaged. This is admittedly one of the lesser journeys through sound as the variety, while present, isn’t quite as dynamic as others. Plus, I hate to say this, but very few of these ideas are very interesting on their own. I never feel surprised whenever the song transitions to a new stage. I just think to myself “Oh that’s different than what we’ve been doing, ok.”

 

I’ll divide this song into 5 stages so I can quickly go over each change the song has.

  • Stage 1 is the strings. I already talked about the strings, they end at 1:25. They are strings and they’re great and remind me of older Infected Mushroom. Good vibes here.
  • After that we have stage 2, the glitched out bassline. This one’s ok. It goes through a couple of iterations and does have a decent bouncy groove to it, but it never really grabs my attention.
  • At about 3:20, we enter stage 3: the best stage. This one focuses on a calm, yet slightly off-putting vibe as the bassline rebuilds itself from the ground up. This melody is probably the second-best part of the song after the strings. It’s somewhat similar to the main melody in Chaplin, though it doesn’t quite reach the same heights of unsettling.
  • Stage 4 is the oddest of the bunch starting at 4:30. The psytrance bassline that has been building is traded for a phasing bass similar to the one at the beginning of Echnomix, but it’s not quite as good. There’s also a subtle melody that seems to be using some retro (or should I say R.E.T.R.O.) sound effects which rounds up this section nicely
  • Stage 5 takes up the last 2 minutes of the song, taking the phased bass from stage 4 and overlaying it with a bouncy bassline to provide a final build-up for the song (which works quite well might I add). Eventually, the strings from the beginning take over, wrapping up this song nicely.

 

Overall, this song is good, but it pales in comparison to what it could be.

 

Infected Mushroom – Deeply Disturbed (8.25): Deeply Disturbed is the only lyrical song on the trance side of this album. It is likely because of the lyrics that I remember it most clearly over the other nine (though I might have Scorpion Frog embedded in the depths of my memories somewhere what with that throwback mixup). The lyrics of Deeply Disturbed are… disturbing. If you’re looking for an uplifting feel-good song, then this isn’t really the place to look. In fact, you should probably tread all of my reviews with caution if positivity is what you want. I have a tendency to enjoy songs with darker themes (up to a point). Themes that might deeply disturb some. Themes that might make some deeply unhappy.

 

Actually, as dark and bleak as these lyrics are, they’re so out of context and so vague that I find it rather amusing more than anything. That’s probably not the right reaction to have and it probably reflects negatively on my sense of humor and internal psyche. But that’s it. That’s the entire song. He’d deeply disturbed and he’s deeply unhappy. What’s disturbing him? What’s sapping away his happiness? Is this man simply insane? We shall never know. But hey at least we get a good song in the meantime.

 

My memory of this song is also likely heightened by the overall music quality of this song. It’s certainly not the most complex song on the front half of the album, but sometimes it’s the simple things that prove to be the most enjoyable. My enjoyment of this song comes almost entirely from the guitar. Every single moment it’s there (which is basically any time the singer isn’t expressing his deep disturbance and unhappiness), it steals the show completely. Whether it be the ascending plucks played in the introduction of the song or the more melodic sections played shortly before each chorus, the guitar is truly the most enjoyable part of the song.

 

Of course, that doesn’t mean the guitar is the only good part of the song. The song simply wouldn’t be the same if the ambience didn’t give off that peaceful sense of dread at the beginning of the song. It wouldn’t be the same if the bassline didn’t have such a rolling groove to it. It wouldn’t be the same if said bassline didn’t become harsher in the chorus, while smoother elsewhere. There might not be a huge variety of instruments to work with in this song, but what’s there blends perfectly.

 

Infected Mushroom – Semi Nice (6.5): Semi Nice is the most playful song on the Trance Side of the album. It starts with an accordion of all things, which I find to be quite odd. It’s just not something I hear very often as my tastes usually don’t include the type of music an accordion would be involved in. But there is at least one exception. It’s this. This is the exception.

 

The song does stick nicely to that introductory playful mood to it. The sound design focuses mostly on the textured basslines. The typical psytrance bassline is there of course, but that’s not the one I care to talk about today. It’s there, being a consistent good as always. The bassline that stands out is the other bassline. For the first half of the song, it just gives a few notes here and there. Not too much in particular. But that playful vibe is definitely present when we reach the midpoint and the bass (now played at a bit of a higher pitch) starts to swing between notes. This funky middle section is probably the closest the song gets to matching the fun accordion intro. Shame that accordion wasn’t reintroduced

 

Instead, the last third song concentrates more on the less interesting elements of the song. There’s a new bassline playing exclusively lower notes with no experimentation whatsoever. And there’s a new simple melody with a few minor distortions, but that’s really just minimal experimentation if anything. Nothing wrong with this last third. Just nothing right with it either

 

Overall, this is a decent song. I’m still kind of in the middle when it comes to my opinion on it. The accordion definitely makes it stand out and I do think it would have been better off continuing to explorre the playful tone that the accordion introduced. Maybe reincorporating the accordion for later. It’s still a nice song, just not quite up to par for Infected Mushroom.

 

It’s Semi-nice.

 

Infected Mushroom – Yanko Pitch (7.75): Concluding the Trance Side, we have Yanko Pitch. With the exception of maybe Deeply Disturbed (which cheated by using the mantra of a madman for vocals), this is likely the creepiest trance song of the bunch. That also makes it one of the best trance songs of the bunch. When it comes to Infected Mushroom’s more psytrance side of their discography (I haven’t gone over anything non-psytrance yet, but I’ll definitely be doing so next week), the creepier songs are often the better ones. Probably because of all the emotions to be expressed through psytrance, fear is the easiest to convey. And a song that gives off a greater emotional reaction is a song that’s well-enjoyed (unless the reaction is utter disgust, then maybe don’t enjoy that one).

 

This song starts off right with the oddest creepiest ambience on the entire album. Deeply Disturbed had a great intro with the guitar that serves as one of the song’s core aspects, but this intro is incredibly trippy. The first twenty seconds are made completely of distorted synths that sound like the remaining echoes from a previous non-existent synth located in the negative area of this song’s duration. But now it sounds like something ominous is coming.

 

The rest of the song doesn’t quite match up with the creepy vibes the song starts with, but that’s mostly because the bar was set a little too high at that beginning. The rest of the song isn’t bad or disappointing. It’s just hard to live up to the expectations that intro sets. Not going to hold it against the song though because the song still maintains a relatively dark atmosphere and it does have some good unsettling melodies here and there. There’s a melody three quarters in that really stands out in the song, giving it some fresh upbeat variety as the general creepiness begins to go stale on its own.

 

That being said, it is admittedly a more simplistic song than the nine other trance songs on this album. The next thirteen songs, however, are a bit different…

 

Conclusion: We’re only halfway through this album due to its length, but it’s clear that the trend of Infected Mushroom’s quality continues to improve. Not all of the songs are winners, but they’re all consistently above 6, which is more than I can say for the past few albums. Plus, you get an extra song instead of the usual nine, so that’s a neat bonus. Of course, if I’d reviewed the full album, there’d be 13 more songs added into the mix and absolutely none of them would be trance, which I think would be an even better bonus. I’ll finish that up next week…

 

Final Score of Trance Side: (7.25)

Final Score of Other Side: (TBD)

Final Score of Full Album: (TBD)

Daily Hat Track Roundup: March 2019

April has started so let’s reflect over the Daily Hat Tracks of March.

 

Daily Hat Track: March 1 (Ginger Runner – Deception of Light and Shadow): When I saw that there was a new Ginger Runner track I was prepared for some good chill jams but the DnB drop took my by surprise. Loving this.

 

Daily Hat Track: March 2 (Au5 & Danyka Nadeau – Eden): Best Au5 since Snowblind (so second best Au5)

 

Daily Hat Track: March 3 (Way Out West & Hendrik Burkhard – We Move in The Dark): Funky tune from Way out West. There may be some odd existential pondering in there but a lot of it is cryptic so it’s hard to say. The groove is clear though and for now that’s all that matters.

 

Daily Hat Track: March 4 (I am Waiting for You Last Summer – Lights Go Out): Perhaps I’m remembering incorrectly but I’m pretty sure I am Waiting for you Last Summer usually gives off rather chill vibes. Ah well, this DnB rock fusion works too.

 

Daily Hat Track: March 5 (Mr Fijiwiji, Laura Brehm & Agno3 – Pure Sunlight): Throwback to perhaps the best collaboration in Monstercat history. Definitely the golden age of the label in my opinion.

 

Daily Hat Track: March 6 (Azedia – Requiem for a New World): This incredible journey through sound gives a unique contemplation of existence over ten minutes. A religion could be based on this song. Actually this song is most likely based on a religion so never mind that. Still great.

 

Daily Hat Track: March 7 (Rotersand – Not Alone): Daily Hat Track: March 7 Capitalism Tm is my favorite Rotersand album but that’s mostly because of Hey You and Not Alone. Both have fantastic development with great inspiring vocals. This one is my preferred of the two at the moment.

 

Daily Hat Track: March 8 (Ghost Rider – Make Us Stronger): I can’t be the only one who hears Carol of the Bells at the beginning of this one. Anyways, this is your usual decent psytrance song with clips of an inspiring speech pondering life. The second half is pretty cool musically.

 

Daily Hat Track: March 9 (Worakls – Entrudo): The fact that there’s an entire Worakls album now is incredible to me as he’s only released singles previously. Haven’t listened to the album in full yet but hey you should definitely check it out.

 

Daily Hat Track: March 10 (Invocation Array – Hypogeum (Live in Studio): Invocation Array is an interesting duo of two women creating a great crossover between rock and EDM (my favorite kind of crossover) and some great vocals. Final chorus in this song is my favorite part of their discography.

 

Daily Hat Track: March 11 (Covenant – Call the Ships to Port): This another one of those songs where I visualize a music video, this one being about the destruction of a supernatural oceanic prison via a ritualistic funeral for those who are thought to be dead long ago but are only dying now.

 

Daily Hat Track: March 12 (Mind.in.a.box – Timelessness): This song from the fifth chapter of the Mindinabox story (which is a long ways off) is among the catchiest of the discography. The chorus gets into my head the easiest of many songs. Not the best but great vocals and good groove.

 

Daily Hat Track: March 13 (Joachim Pastor – Eternity): I’ve posted some Worakls before, but this is my second favorite artist from the Hungry Music crew (A trio of the best prog house artists). The marimba in this one is the highlight of this particular track.

 

Daily Hat Track: March 14 (N’to – Trauma (Worakls remix)): I’ve definitely had an appetite for Hungry Music as of late. Here, Worakls transforms one of the lesser Hungry songs (though no bad Hungry songs actually exists) into something incredibly new and infinitely better.

 

Daily Hat Track: March 15 (Worakls – Nocturne): Hungry music never ends! But how does it begin? This Worakls track was my very first Hungry song and the orchestral progression here remains my favorite.

 

Daily Hat Track: March 16 (3force – Resistance): This kicking synthwave journey was what started off my morning today. It’s now 13 hours later but I still love every moment of this. Feels much longer than six minutes, given it’s variety.

 

Daily Hat Track: March 17 (Inofaith – Nocturne): Inofaith’s discography is small, but all of it is incredible immersive and relaxing. This song in particular is my favorite as it really speaks to me as a creative.

 

Daily Hat Track: March 18 (Ben Prunty – Night Zen): Last song to speak of this evening is a song of night zen. Well that’s the title. The song itself isn’t as relaxing as Nocturne though. Much more suspense to this one. Really was my favorite discovery today.

 

Daily Hat Track: March 19 (Feint, Boyinaband & Veela – Time Bomb): Throwing back to early Monstercat days with a DnB song about time travel (my favorite storytelling concept). Also has some great vocals from Veela (Who is among my favorite female vocalists). Feint’s best work in my opinion.

 

Daily Hat Track: March 20 (Miracle of Sound & Sarah Murray – Force of Nature): I’m not a huge fan of Miracle of Sound but the first track I heard from him caught my attention with its majestic orchestras and Sarah’s gorgeous vocals. Sadly, Sarah isn’t a regular, so the other songs are a bit underwhelming.

 

Daily Hat Track: March 21 (Kebu – To Jupiter and Back): To Jupiter and Back huh? Sounds like white a journey. This one has a nice balance between beauty and playfulness.

 

Daily Hat Track: March 22 (Niteppl – Meat Grinder): This song’s got a weird creepy vibe to it. But mostly because of the implications of what exactly goes into that neat grinder…

 

Daily Hat Track: March 23 (VNV Nation – When is the Future): I’m currently reviewing the oldest VNV Nation album so here’s a song from the newest VNV Nation album dissecting the passage of time and questioning it’s flow. Where is the past? What is the present? When is the future?

 

Daily Hat Track: March 24 (Infected Mushroom – Slowly): Slowly is just Franks (the previous song on the album), but played in a slower manner. And I can’t help but enjoy that.

 

Daily Hat Track: March 25 (Ed Harrison – Scrap I/O): Running a little late on Daily Hat Tracks so here’s a song that switches between a beautiful piano and strings combination and some upbeat breaks that also includes some slightly glitched vocals.

 

Daily Hat Track: March 26 (PYLOT – Enigma): I really need to get back into PYLOT’s discography. The narrative seems to be improving and developing quite nicely. It isn’t Mindinabox levels yet, but we’re getting there.

 

Daily Hat Track: March 27 (Botnit – Ex Cathedra): Honestly, I find this song a bit amusing with its overhyped 80s praise. I’m sure the 80s were great or something. I wouldn’t know. I was born in 96. “SORRY BETAMAX” gets me every time.

 

Daily Hat Track: March 28 (Covenant – Happy Man): For a song called Happy man, the lead singer of Covenant sure sounds sad… I seem to relate to this song though… What does that say about my mental state?

 

Daily Hat Track: March 29 (Timmy Trumpet – Oracle): So this appeared in a trance playlist on Spotify today. I sincerely did not know Mr Timmy Trumpet did a psytrance song. Short, but it’s interesting enough.

 

Daily Hat Track: March 30 (Andy Hunter & D’Morgan – Technicolour): Best vocal performance of all Andy Hunter songs. That is all.

 

 

Here’s the full playlist of Daily Hat Tracks so far.

VNV Nation – Praise the Fallen (1998 album)

Album links

Bandcamp: n/a

Soundcloud: n/a

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/0px3A0GxRsm0GovO9yu6HS?si=E6sKIcteRpijNuRmxttARg

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_lt_-_CtYzU6b87lOpOK-PZH5aujkgt4jo

 

 

 

Introduction: VNV Nation. This is going to be an odd review for me. I’ve been exploring my favorite artists’ discographies in chronological order (technically this isn’t the debut album as the first album was re-released with some bonus tracks, so I’ll take care of the true debut later), but the issue with VNV Nation is that Ronan’s first couple albums are drastically different in style over the first few years. It doesn’t even sound like the same artist at many points. So, while I actually prefer VNV Nation over some of the other artists I’ve looked at (Andy Hunter and Ashbury Heights), this debut album will be far worse than Exodus and comparable in quality to the all too edgy Three Cheers for the Newlydeads.

 

Usually the VNV in VNV Nation stands for “Victory, not Vengeance.” Today, I’m not so certain.

 

VNV Nation – Chosen (6): VNV Nation begins this album with an ambient story. Almost makes it seem like this artist is going to be another narrative discography like Mind.in.a.box, but that’s not the case this time around. This is just one song that tells one story. A story about war.

 

In no way, does VNV Nation romanticize war in this song. It is displayed as a disgustingly horrifying aspect of humanity (or lack thereof). Chosen specifically tells the story of a city that has been conquered by the enemy. All its citizens live in constant fear of the brutal army that has overpowered them. Fear for their life, and fear for whether any semblance of justice and reasons exists. Comparisons are made to the most devastating natural disasters, and yet, it’s clear to see that Ronan views the nature of war to be on another level of horror. There doesn’t seem to be any victory in this story. Only defeat. It’s kind of on the lesser end of VNV Nation songs lyrically, but for this album it’s par for the course

 

The music however, is quite good. It definitely stands out as one of the relaxing bookends of this album (most songs have the same driving drumbeat that’s absent here). There’s a good combination of ominous bass and eerie melodies throughout much of the song. And he strings in the background give a sense of beauty to the track despite the fact that the lyrics demonstrate the clear opposite of beauty. They get their own highlight for the second half of the song once the story has concluded. And as the track dies down it concludes with a piano

 

VNV Nation – Joy (3.25): Joy is a lot harsher than Chosen. Much of the album has this edgy monotonous drumbeat, making the entire album seem a bit angry actually. So much for “Victory not Vengeance.” There is little variety in this song to get into. The beat begins to drone on between the same kick and snare (with the only occasional variation (like the rapidfire build-up near the beginning of the song but that was kind of annoying anyways, so it barely counts). Other than that, there’s a few basslines, but none of them really strike me as anything worthwhile. There’s a melody in there every once and a while but it only gets to exist for a couple of seconds at a time. Really the strings are the only saving grace in this song. They come in every once and a while to provide a little bit of beauty and they’re greatly appreciated. However, that only undoes some of the edginess that permeates through this song

 

That edginess comes from the depressing lyrics. Honestly, the only joy I can hear in this song is that I’m pretty sure that the choir is singing the word “Joy” at the beginning. Everything else is extremely edgy. It’s not Ashbury Heights levels of glorifying of depression, but the nihilism is definitely present. Countless times in the song, Ronan questions whether any positivity in love is still worth it when there’s so much pain in the world. He describes a situation in which he finds no meaning in life. He compares it to a never-ending war, in which he is losing.

 

And honestly that goes against everything VNV Nation would come to stand for.

 

There is no victory.

 

Just vengeance.

 

VNV Nation – Procession (6.25): Procession starts out well enough with a lot of focus on melody. This melody comes from a soothing collection of the strings that have so far been the highlight of this album. And yet, they don’t sound quite like strings either at points. It’s still the most beautiful part of the song (though that’s not saying much. And that’s even with the odd siren tone pulsing in the background. I feel like I should have a problem with that, but I really don’t mind at all. Overall, this is a nice break from the pulsing uninteresting drumbeat that plagues this album.

 

A nice one-minute break…

 

Fine. I guess I’m being a bit harsh. This song actually does have a fair amount of variation to it. The drumbeat is still overbearing but all the other instruments have a nice enough variety to them that I can accept that. There’s a second melodic instrument that closes off that first minute that I rather enjoy. It especially does a good job of closing out the song (Yes, my favorite part of the song is when it’s over. That sounds more negative than it is). I also rather enjoy the horn that appears in the chorus.

 

As for the lyrics, I think we have a continuing unbalance with the vengeance threatening to take over this album. Well, there’s a bit of victory sprinkled in here too. The lines are somewhat blurred and this seems to be one of their more cryptic songs so it’s hard to tell exactly what the message is. I’m definitely going to try and parse through some moments here and there though. The victory in this song seems to focus on trying to remember the heroes who’ve been forgotten. The people that pave a way for new generations to live happily. But such people while perhaps being respected briefly are just as quickly forgotten. It’s hard to tell, but this song comes really close to almost glorifying war which I found to be slightly unnerving at first, but upon second glance, it seems to be more about respecting those who were in war. You know. A Memorial Day thing. There really is less violence and vengence here than I expected.

 

Except for when we break some worthless necks. Where did that come from?

 

VNV Nation – Voice (6.5): I really don’t have much specific to say about Voice, which is strange because it is one of the better tracks on the album. Parts of this song, specifically the arp, wouldn’t feel all that out of place in a Mind.in.a.box song (my current favorite artist as you may have noted me mentioning in previous reviews). There are also a few variations on the arp and a nice driving melody that accompanies the vocals. Unfortunately, the song does get a little repetitive. Could be a bit shorter.

 

You know what else is repetitive? The lyrics. I’m not going to complain too much as I don’t feel like the repetition of the lyrics bothers me as much as the repetition of the music (though it is further proof that the song would be better if it was shorter). The lyrics in this one are much simpler than the last few songs which is a welcome break. The lyrics are pretty self-explanatory. We are not the same and our voices must be heard. No particular voice rules over the others. We just differ. At least that’s how I’m interpreting it. And I like my interpretation so I’m sticking with it.

 

VNV Nation – Forsaken (8): Forsaken is one of the two songs on this album to be later featured on The Solitary EP. Because of this, when I started listening to this song, I thought to myself “Oh I know this one.” But I didn’t. The version I knew had much more to it as far as lyrical content goes. This has three spoken lines and that’s it. Not bad though. The most important though provoking part of the song is still maintained so that’s neat.

 

Music first. I like to leave provoking thoughts until the end. Forsaken is thankfully one of the calmer songs on this album, meaning this break from the drumbeat, unlike the one in Procession, takes up the entire 4 minutes of the song. And it is simultaneously unsettling and beautiful. The unsettling factors in quite immediately as all the song begins with is the main melody of the song accompanied by an unfortunate heart monitor. This main melody is a slight bit irregular and at first, with the ambience surrounding it, it plays well into the ominousness. But not a minute later, combined with the strings and the arp, there’s a peaceful beauty to the whole song. It’s still the same melody but the entire tone has been transformed due to its context and I find that to be quite amazing almost serves as a parallel to the ending of the song and its entire meaning.

 

Forsaken is about death. This is immediately apparent when the song starts out with a flatlining heart monitor, and it’s explicitly stated in the last moments of the song, which I remember the most. There’s a few lyrics on the way to that journey, one of which I found a bit too cryptic to figure out how it fits (For thirty years, I have plotted to bring down the party. I am sick in mind and body) and the other being so vague there’s nothing much to say about it (Help me).

 

That final quote at the end (from Jacob’s Ladder) though really does paint a good picture of the unsettling peaceful dichotomy that is death. You can either live your life constantly fearing death, running from it despite the fact that you can’t truly escape, or you can commit your limited time in existence to a goal or meaning. Through that, you can find peace from the chaos of this world and when you reach life’s end, death is easier to accept.

 

Yeah, this song’s a bit morbid, but it isn’t disgustingly so. I greatly appreciate it as an artful song that sticks out like a strengthened thumb of off the withering hands of this album.

 

VNV Nation – Ascension (4.75): Seeing as there are no lyrics in Ascension, I’m going to have to look at this song from a musical standpoint alone. I’m not going to have much to say…

 

The problem is that this song is 8 minutes long. That’s a long time to commit to listening to one song, and the experience I get from this one doesn’t really make it worthwhile. There just isn’t enough distinctive variety in here to justify such a length. It has a bit of interesting progression for a bit as it introduces the various instruments, but that only lasts a couple of minutes. After a certain point the song just plateaus, and it gets harder and harder to maintain interest. I did enjoy some of the bits with the bassline and the strings working together at some points, but over time, the monotony took over. I feel like if the song had more direction, I’d be able to enjoy it more, but otherwise, I can’t bring myself to care.

 

VNV Nation – Honour (7.75): The word “Honour” looks wrong to me, but that’s my own personal problem as an American speller (though this is the odd case, as I actually prefer colour and theatre sometimes). Ah well, it’s an irrelevant little thought that filled my head for a brief moment.

 

The music in this one is definitely on the better side of this album. The way the song begins with each of the strings, bassline and drums creeping up behind the main melody does serve as a nice introduction to everything you’re getting into with this song. And that bassline could do a very good job at keeping a good drive to the song, though the drum is so overbearing, it doesn’t really need much help (you could turn that down a little… I know you’ll balance things out in the future… but I’d enjoy this more now if you’d turn it down… he can’t hear me… I’m two decades too late). Ah well, at least it compliments the melody and strings nicely. There’s a recording or two in there related to war as well (those ground troops have got to be well notified by now), but they’re fairly inconsequential to the song’s music or message.

 

Speaking of the message, Honour is actually the song that I feel most closely follows the “Victory not Vengeance” message that VNV stands for, making it one of the better songs on the album. It still hides behind a wall of war metaphors though, which makes it a bit harder to decipher the message. In fact, the first half of the verse is entirely there to describe the image of the battle that will serve as the backdrop for this song (which takes place in 2012 despite this album coming out in 1998).

 

The second half of this verse and the chorus are a bit more meaningful, though they do have a slightly inconsistent tone to them. There’s a wavering confidence in these lyrics. At first, the singer voices his concerns of what had happened to justice and reason as the chaos of war had arisen (I still find this particular sentiment to be a bit too relevant today). He then calls on either God or the spirits of those who fell before him (or both maybe) to receive guidance on the attempt to rebuild a world broken by war. As we reach the chorus, the singer is temporarily filled with confidence, letting out a war cry to defend the values he holds dear and yet still in the back of his head there’s some doubt over whether those values are still intact. The whole thing provides for a slightly messy arc though I do think I have a slight hold on the message.

 

These doubts that plague his mind (as well as my own, this is a bit personal) have not left him even after he’d sought out the path to victory. However, he also continues to stand his ground and keep on fighting for that victory even when those doubts in his head threaten to overtake him. Maybe I’m self-projecting my own struggles in here but the song works regardless.

 

VNV Nation – Burnout (1): Oh no.

 

This is very bad.

 

Perhaps this just isn’t my genre, but this is the worst sounding song I’ve reviewed so far maybe excluding Swansong (even my low rating of Swansong was perhaps generous). But at least Swansong almost lured me in by sounding good on the surface. This on the other hand. I can’t get into this one at all. I already was uncertain of it at the beginning, but then this song did the magical thing of getting worse and worse every second. The drums caught me off guard at the beginning. A bit more violent than I’d normally prefer, but with the right context they could work. This isn’t the right context. This context is filled with loads of instruments that simply don’t work well together. Any ambiance is screechy at best. Any bassline is a bit too gritty and there’s often three of them layered on top of each other in an unfitting manner. And any semblance melody is missing (unless you count that high-pitched swinging ear irritater, which I don’t).

 

There’s some kind of interrogation going on at the beginning harking from an old classic movie harking back from 1936: Things to Come. I hasn’t seen the film and it was only through happenstance wild goose chase that I was able track down and confirm the source, but I must say that through my research I am quite interested in checking it out so at least some good came of this song. That’s not going to improve this abysmal rating though.

 

VNV Nation – Solitary (7): You would’ve never guessed this, but Solitary is one of the other two songs on the Solitary EP that I’d heard previously. A song called Solitary on the Solitary EP? Mind-blowing, right? There’s even a version of Solitary on the Solitary EP called Solitude but it’s still Solitary under a different name. I’m not going to go too much over which versions of Solitary I prefer more seeing as there’s four versions of it, but I’ll tell you that this one’s in the middlish as far as I’d rate it. I’ll do more comparisons whenever I decide to get around to that EP (really low priority unless someone requests it via Patreon).

 

Solitary’s musical structure is rather similar to a lot of the songs on this album. It has a pounding drumbeat made almost completely of kicks. It has some strings that fall and rise at certain points in the song. It has a simple melody that’s played on loop at several points in the song (this one is only three notes though). Add in a bassline and maybe another synth (both of which this song has) and you have your typical Praise the Fallen song. It doesn’t really stand out in any way other than familiarity due to its titular EP. Thankfully, unlike the all too long monotonous Ascension, there’s at least some lyrics to go over this time.

 

This song is all about change, and if you’ve been reading my Mind.in.a.box reviews, you’ll know I love that topic. In fact, this song shares a lot of similarities with the main themes off of Crossroads, seeing as it’s a song about leaving the guilty past behind and reaching out into the future. Nearly every song on that album was about that subject. Well let’s add another one to the list! Except this one is on a completely different album by a completely different artist and contributes nothing to the narrative whatsoever

 

My same feelings apply though. I am a strong believer in striving to take control of one’s life and changing it for the better, leaving the past in the dust if you must. The past doesn’t have to define who we are but we, at any point, have the power to define our future.

 

Overall, I’d say this song is the closest to resembling the modern VNV Nation I’m more accustomed to. It has its flaws but it’s a step towards the modern standard.

 

VNV Nation – PTF2012 (6): As we head nearer to the close of the album, we only have two calm instrumental songs to review. They’re simple beauties so I’ll be brief. I do want to note one odd thing about this title though. This technically is the titular track of the album. It doesn’t look like it, but there is an alternate title seen in the bottom corner of the album art that matches this song name. PTF is an abbreviation for Praise the Fallen. 2012 is simply a random year that Ronan Harris chose for a once futuristic date to set this album (see Honour).

 

I don’t want to say this track is just strings even though that technically is true. There are no non-stringed instruments present (actually after listening a couple more times, there might be a horn but I’m not absolutely certain). However, I feel like calling it “just strings” has a somewhat bad connotation to it. The song is beautiful, and it does have a rising feel to it from beginning to end, making it a much better progression than the twice as long “Asscension” from earlier. However, it isn’t especially memorable as nothing particularly sticks out to me. It’s just a decent stringed track cooling us down after all the heavy drumbeats we’ve had.

 

VNV Nation – Schweigeminute (n/a): I have seen evidence, that this song exists, but I am unable to find it anywhere on the internet. I’d probably have to find a physically copy of the album to hear it. That’s okay though, because it’s apparently just a minute of silence and should hold no weight on my final review score.

 

VNV Nation – Untitled (6): Wow, what a fantastically interesting title. Really tells you everything you need to know about the song. This is a rather bland conclusion to the album, so I’ll be brief once again. This song suffers a bit from repetition as it perpetually plays the same melody on loop for a good 90% of the song. It has a little bit of musical variety as there’s a second synth that fades in and out like a tide. Because of this, the song almost becomes a soothing relaxing conclusion to the album, but the melody doesn’t quite reach up to its soothing potential. Ah well, still a decent experience overall.

 

Conclusion: Really a poor start to one of my favorite artists. This is a far cry from what he makes nowadays. I’m all about a bit of edge here and there, but early VNV Nation isn’t quite the edge I’d like from them. VNV Nation usually admits that there’s negative vengeful aspects to life while simultaneously shining light on a path through the pain towards victory and peace. That path is absent from this album. It’s almost entirely focused on the darkness and it simply doesn’t work quite as well as I’d like (though I guess the edge here isn’t as bad as it was in Ashbury Heights’ Three Cheers for the Newlydeads).

 

The biggest problem with this album is the overbearing drumbeat. I like a good solid drumbeat but this one was too much, and it upset the entire balance of the song, nearly drowning out all of the other melodies, basslines and vocals. The lack of a drumbeat is actually a big part of why Forsaken (the only song on the album to get a rating higher than an 8) stands out.

 

I would highly recommend some of VNV Nation’s newer albums that have been released in the past decade (Transnational is my favorite). You’d be better off skipping some of the older stuff. I, on the other hand, have an obsession with order, so I shall be trudging through these edgier albums first. Ah well. Next week I plan on a larger scale review of a much better album.

 

Final Score: (5.75/10)