Infected Mushroom – IM the Supervisor (2004 Album)

Album Links:

 

Bandcamp: n/a

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Because something goes wrong.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

This has happened before.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Final Score: (7.25/10)

Andy Hunter – Colour (2008 album)

Album links

 

Bandcamp: n/a

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

This has nothing.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Moving on!

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Final Score: (7.5/10)

Thyx – Super Vision (2014 album)

Album links

Bandcamp: n/a

Soundcloud: n/a

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

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

It just doesn’t quite fit.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Only if we work for it.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Waiting.

 

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

 

Most of the song…

 

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

 

Because there will be light.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

This song is simply pure.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Final Score: (7.5/10)

VNV Nation – Empires (1999 album)

Bandcamp: n/a

Soundcloud: n/a

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

Yeah, that’d be neat.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

All that matters right now is that moment of peace.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

And there are also lyrics.

 

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

 

Peace is out there. And with it, contentment.

 

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

 

Final Score: (7/10)

Scatman John – Scatman’s World (1995 album)

Bandcamp: n/a

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/scatman-john-official/sets/scatmans-world-3

Spotify:  https://open.spotify.com/album/2MRWFajfjxfLAF3wwmdv5j?si=ZxNoY9ZJRt6vrauiGx3fvw

Youtube:  https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_lmeQahtfdGYSLdbE9cbxdec2dwOotyopY

 

Introduction: And now for something completely different!

 

Seriously after dealing with the edgy rock Celldweller for the past three weeks, I need a good palette cleanser. I like the edgy stuff and all, but sometimes it can get a bit overwhelming in all the bad ways. So this week, I’m going to explore an artist that has no edge, but isn’t really overly sappy either (I hate pure sap). So welcome to the first review of the down to earth Scatman John as we explore his most iconic songs.

 

Scatman John – Welcome to Scatland (6): Let’s start this album off with the short piano (and bird?) based intro that welcomes the listener to the wonderous utopian paradise that is Scatland… Scatman’s World? I’m not sure. The terminology keeps on changing, but they sound like the same place from what I’m hearing here.

 

Like I said, Scatland is a utopian paradise, a land in which many of the divisive conflicts of modern day have been eliminated. It’s an ideal dream that should be strived for. Is it possible? Well we’re a couple decades past Scatman John’s career and I am unfortunately not seeing the idea of Scatland taking hold yet. For now, it’s still just a dream.

 

A dream we must strive for.

 

Scatman John – Scatman’s World (6.75): And we’re already at the title track of the album, as well as one of the most iconic tracks. Now, a lot of Scatman’s songs have a bit of a similar style so I shan’t be too long in the instrumental analysis for many of these songs. In fact, even here I shan’t be long. It’s an upbeat pop song with some simple melodies and the rise and fall of some arp in the background (almost sounds like acid, but I could be totally off base). Oh, and there’s some pads too, but outside of a couple of exceptions, pads are never really interesting to talk about. This isn’t one of those exceptions.

 

As for the vocals, Scatman is most known for certain sections of his songs that are a bit less lyrical than others. That’s right, I’m talking about the scatsinging. It’s in the name. All the names. Artist name! Album name! Song name! Well, that last one is pretty obvious because it’s the titular track of the album, but there’s 4 other songs with the word “scat” in the title so it’s not like this is the only occurrence. And while these sections are meaningless, they are quite fun. I am not ashamed to admit that at least half of the enjoyment of singing along with Scatman’s songs is the scatsinging, even if some parts in more complex songs (this one is pretty simple) are impossible for the average human being.

 

But even with his superhuman scatsinging abilities, John here still brings his songs down to earth to convey some authentic human messages. They are in no way existential or edgy like the mindbending thought experiments that is Mind.in.a.box or the tortuous edginess that I’ve reviewed from Ashbury Heights’ and Celldweller’s early works. Instead they convey an idealistic world that displays the innermost human desire for what kind of world they want to live in. Well, at least this is the type of the world I want to live in. And while we’re not living in that world yet, I do think that working towards that world can result in a more enjoyable life. Don’t hold back your turmoil and let it eat you up inside. Express yourself. Allow others to help you through life. And help others if need be. I mean, this probably sounds like some cheesy hippie rambling, and in a way, that is what a lot of Scatman’s lyrics focus on.

 

But if a message of hoping for and striving for peace and happiness in a world that seems to deny it is frowned upon, then that’s not a world I want to live in.

 

I’d rather live in Scatman’s world.

 

Scatman John – Only You (6.25): Again, Scatman adapts the upbeat fun vibe that will be the focus for a good 80% of this album. This one does kick the music up a notch with the song bouncing back and forth with a bouncy piano melody in the majority of the song, while giving it a slight break for the slight groove of a bassline to be spotlit in the verses. I wouldn’t say either part of this song is exceptionally stellar, but it still gives me a slight bit of nostalgia even though I hadn’t actually grown up with this song. My guess is that it reminds me a bit of one of my childhood games (Blinx: the Time Sweeper), but that’s a very loose reminder that probably comes from the arp I hadn’t mentioned yet. Something about it is just the right flavor to activate that memory in my brain.

 

Cryptic nostalgia aside, Only You is one of the few songs in this album that present a slightly different message than the aim for utopia. Instead we’re looking at a love song… I’m quite surprised that this is the first real love song we’ve seen in any of my reviews. Yes, there’s been plenty of toxic love songs in Ashbury Heights’ and Celldweller’s early discographies (as antitheses to Scatman John, I can see myself mentioning these two a lot in this review), but Scatman here is actually giving us a real wholesome love song, filled with a good ammount of adoration without dipping into addictive obsession, and an overall feeling of unconditional love directed towards the soul rather than the outward appearances. And all of it is well appreciated. Is this song for me. No, not really. I’m drawn to the more introspective stuff, but that doesn’t really detract from this song’s quality.

 

Not a huge fan of the slang “mama” though. I understand that there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with it in the song’s time period and its aim is to be endearing, but something about it just rubs me the slightly wrong way.

 

Scatman John – Quiet Desperation (5.5): So, after two upbeat songs that follow Scatman’s iconic style we have Quiet Desperation, a song that prides itself on a slower pace. There’s a soft syncopated drumbeat backing this track up, but it doesn’t reach the hight tempos of the dance songs that much of this album has. This is one to sit back and relax to. A little bit of simple piano here and there. A touch of trumpet for some melodic flavor. And of course, a nice bit of scatsinging that’s intrinsic to any Scamtan John song. Some might have more scatsinging than others, but they all have at least something in the language of “Scattish.”

 

This song’s focus forgoes singing of the fun of scatting one’s way to happiness and instead follows the life of a homeless person that John sees on the side of the road. Not the most uplifting theme. The song’s title refers to the plight of the homeless as he lives his life on the street, just getting by day to day.

 

The message of this song is a bit odd to say the least. Much of the song is spent painting the plight of the homeless. Desperately grasping at the little money that passersby provide. Longing for a place to call home but instead feeling empty inside. Trying to convince one’s self that this nightmare of desperation is only a temporary passing and that it isn’t nearly as bad as he thinks it is. It’s not really an uplifting situation.

 

And yet, Scatman seems to find something in this homeless person that reminds him of something that he’d lost. And I really wish I could tell you for certain what he meant by that, but I just don’t know. What has Scatman lost? Has he lost his focus on what really matters in life beyond the material he has? This one doesn’t quite feel right. The homeless person does desire a home and it’s perfectly reasonable to want at least a simple livable piece of shelter. Maybe it’s more about their similarities of feeling lost and empty, how they’ve both lost something to get them to their similar states of emptiness. But I feel like there needs to be more details for that one to work…

 

Overall, the song sounds pretty good, but the lyrics end up falling flat due to inconsistency… unless I’m missing something. If I figure out what this song is missing, I might come back and raise the score, but for now… eh

 

Scatman John – Scatman (ski-ba-bop-ba-dop-bop) (8.25): And now, complete with some emotional whiplash from the last song, we have the most iconic Scatman song of all… Scatman! If you know Scatman at all, then you know this one. I’m not sure if I can say that about very many artists and their highlight song. But Scatman John’s Scatman (ski-ba-bop-ba-dop-bop) pretty much defines his career. Yes, Scatman’s World is quite popular too, but most of his other songs seem to fall to the wayside. But there are definitely reasons this song is so icinoic.

 

First off, the simplicity of the name and its similarity to the artist, Scatman John, makes it clear that this song, from the beginning, was meant to be the iconic song for Scatman. His very name is the title of the song. But then there’s the second part of that title (ski-ba-bop-ba-dop-bop). Absolutely false advertising. Well, the first part of the chorus does seem to follow the subtitle of the song quite similarly, but This simple string of syllables is nothing compared to the plethora and variety of scatsinging that is actually on this song. From the tongue twisting intro to the second half of the scat singing chorus to the absolutely impossible rapid buzzing that the man does in the song’s bridge. I’ve tried to imitate that zah- zah-zeyah portion to no avail. Scatman John is something else entirely. Really, the music is the simplest of dance tracks to be used on the album, but that just allows the scatsinging to take the center stage.

 

And this song didn’t have to have a good message to it, but it really does have a good focus on not defining yourself by your weaknesses, and instead pushing forward to follow your dreams and desires. Perhaps even using one’s weakness to their advantage. In Scatman’s case, he had an issue with stuttering ever since he was a child, and his life was all the more difficult because of it. He was bullied for his stuttering as a child. While he was eventually able to use his passion for learning music as an escape from his stuttering, he first used it as a front to hide his stuttering. Scatman is the song in which he bravely stepped out and use his talents and passion for music to sing this song despite his fears of his stuttering. He may have never been able to get rid of his stuttering, but he didn’t need to get rid of his weakness in order to be successful. Instead, he turned it into a strength.

 

This song is John Larkin’s life set to music and while it’s not my favorite from him, it is well deserving of his most popular song.

 

Scatman John – Sing Now! (7.25): Sing Now! brings us back to the dreams of a better world, Scatman’s World, a utopia worth striving for. But before I dive into the lyrics of international happiness, I do want to highlight the music as it really feels extra 90s this time. I can definitely hear it in that constant bouncy bassline that accompanies the drumbeat. There are a few other 90s dance melodies, but it’s really the bassline that stands out to me.

 

But Scatman’s strength is always his scatsinging and message. The scatsinging is on point as usual as it fills the instrumental portions in between the choruses and the verses with an extra feeling of joy and celebration. A celebration worth singing about. Sing now! dreams of a world where war has ceased, where division has disappeared, a peace and unity have taken their place. Oh, it’s a sappy idea to be certain and considering my usual distaste for sap, I should hate this song, but I just can’t. There’s something so sincere about the way Scamtan John sings this song, that I feel as if the sap can be ignored in favor of an uplifting message about the dream of peace come true, not by waiting for it to happen, but by stepping up and making it happen. We create or own happy ending.

 

The sun will only rise on our lives if we let it.

 

Scatman John – Popstar (6.5): Popstar takes a step back to a calmer vibe. Not quite the same calm as Quiet Desperation, Song of Scatland or Everything Changes. Just calmer in comparison to the songs around it. What makes this stick out a tiny bit from the other calmer tracks is the little funky bounce it has. Not too much to remark about the music of this song except that bassline which really fits the whole tone it sounds like Scatman has been going for in these lyrics.

 

And what do I think of those lyrics? Well I used to hate them. When I’d first listened to this album, I’d quickly decided that this was my least favorite song of the bunch and much of that has to do with the song’s message. Or rather, it has to do with what the song’s message appeared to be. Because up until the last minute and a half of this song, the entire song is just endless bragging about being a hip and cool popstar. And it’s so self-centered and annoying that it just doesn’t fit the theme of the rest of the album in the slightest. Clearly, I wasn’t listening to that last little bit of the final verse, where Scatman says that everything he’s said up until this point in the song is a joke and how the whole status of a popstar doesn’t matter. All that matters is you. And that is a good message but it was lost on me once I started to tune out the bragging the first few times I listened. So, the twist was alright in the end, but I feel like a twist would be more powerful if it took a good song and made it great rather than taking a bad song and making it good. Thankfully Scatman will prove such a twist is possible later, but that’s for another review.

 

Scatman John – Time (Take Your Time) (8): And now this is some good upbeat funky Scatman. The slight funky of Popstar was nice, but this song is able to get just as much groove here with a much better upbeat tempo, immediately rendering Popstar obsolete as far as the music goes. Yes, a clock is supposed to tick 60 times a minute, but the BPM of this song is at least double that, bringing the whole drive to the fastest Scatman has ever done. The melodies aren’t too much to speak of, but the bassline is exceptionally better than Popstar’s and that one was already quite good. Most of the song it resides in the background with all the scatsinging and quick drumbeat giving the song a subtle but quite noticeable drive to it, but there are points like midway through the second verse where the bassline reaches the front for a rapidly paced breakdown. This combined with scatsinging more fast paced than even the more iconic Scatman (ski-ba-bop-ba-dop-bop), makes this easily the most energetic song on the album.

 

And the basslines and scatsinging aren’t the only things running rapidfire in this song. The lyrical sections of the song are also jampacked with words so quickly expressed that makes deciphering this song quite impossible. Clearly he’s repeatedly saying “Take your Time” in the chorus, but he certainly isn’t taking his time enunciating every last line in the verses because the rest of the lyrics are completely up in the air, as both the lyrics I’m hearing on my own and the lyrics I’m looking up on the internet make very little sense outside of the fact that they are indeed words. So, can I tell you exactly what this song’s about? Well from what I can put together, the tone seems to suggest getting caught up in trying to figure out the chaos of existence, flipping frantically through an imaginary handbook of how to live life, while also juggling every single problem that hurdles your way.

 

Sometimes, you just need to take your time.

 

Or maybe it’s something else and I’m mixing up my lyrical extraction and my self-projection again. Who knows?

 

Scatman John – Mambo Jambo (6): And now, in between two of the most meaningful songs on the album we have Mambo Jambo. This one means nothing. I mean the lyrics are all about doing the Mambo Jambo, which is a play on words using Mambo, a Latin dance, and Mumbo Jumbo, a ritual intending to confuse. And it works because I am bobbing my head which is sort of dancing. I am also confused. It’s all scatsinging and the call to dance in bewilderment.

 

Yeah, I’m not going to analyze these lyrics. This song is clearly just meant for fun.

 

And the music only makes it clearer that fun is the goal. It’s a bit repetitive with nothing but a drumbeat with a slight jungle vibe and a harmonica. There’s a small bit of variety with the piano and its build two thirds through the song which gives it a nice little break from the scatsinging jungle harmonica. So that makes it my favorite part of the song. And besides this song is rather short so it doesn’t really overstay its welcome.

 

Scatman John – Everything Changes (8.5): And now for the best of the best. It takes a step back from the upbeat Scatman and instead focuses on feeling a little bit more laidback. Feels like elevator jazz with it’s simple nonintrusive chill vibe. A few soothing melodies and one little trumpet or saxophone solo. For someone obsessed with music, I’m afraid I have troubles telling a good trumpet from a saxophone sometimes. But both are good, so it doesn’t really affect my enjoyment all that much (pretty sure this one’s a trumpet though).

 

The lyrics of this song are the true highlight though. Everything truly does change. I’ve expressed this before, especially in my Mind.in.a.box reviews, but in case you don’t know or need a refreshing of memory, change is the central point of my worldview. Society and the people who make it up are constantly changing. And even looking at myself, the person I am is constantly changing. I see the world around me and see myself trying to strengthen my emotional fortitude while still trying to maintain the empathy that I hold dear to myself (though interestingly I don’t aim such empathy at myself, have to work on that).

 

But sometimes, it’s a bit too easy to get wrapped up in the constantly changing world and overworry about what the unknown future may bring. And so, the central message of this song declaring that sometimes it’s best to look at the present and live in that moment is quite a refreshing message of easing the stress of the future. I feel I definitely need this and I’m pretty sure there’s several people in the world that could use this line of thinking on occasion as well.

 

Scatman John – Song of Scatland (6.75): And for the last relaxing song on the album (the next two are quite upbeat), we have the ultimate depiction of Scatman’s utopia: Scatland. With a simple piano melody and a very smooth and soothing bassline, this song proves to be the most relaxing of them all. There’s a few other instruemnts, particularly the synth in the second verse and the sax in the instrumental bridge that contribute to the smooth relaxing vibe that brings the peaceful atmosphere to Scatland. But it’s the lyrics that prove to be most important to this song in particular.

 

Anyways, back to Scatland. If we look at the earlier more popular song, it seems that this land is located on Scatman’s World. Kind of like how the capital of Oklahoma is Oklahoma City, but on a larger scale. Plus, it’s also a fantasy, but it’s a fantasy worth striving for as usual. There are quite some interesting moments in this song detailing the way Scatland works, particularly the language of Scattish (not quite like a leprechaun), and the directions to Scatland (give yourself a hug and love yourself (which I have a hard time doing to be brutally honest)). And all of it does sound indeed like a paradise to strive for. It’s a bit sappy and I do find it to oversimplify the problems of this world a tiny bit, but’s still a good sentimental song.

 

Scatman John – Hi, Louis (7.75): S̶̗̠̘̫̦̟͚̝̦̔̈́Ǫ̴̨̮͇̙̞̗̫̫̭̒́̐̿͑̏̅̆͘͝N̶̼̤̼̭̞͇̏̑G̷̡̢̞͉̥̣̗̲͇̒̃̆̅̂̇̓́͠ A̷̡͙̹̳̜̳̤̼̤̲̩̰͉̗͚͚̹̳͊͜Ṅ̵̻͉͉̲̇͆̏̈̽̅̔́͑̋͒̊̋̑͂̉̀̔͂̏͗̈́̀̌̀͛͘͝A̵̡͕̪͈͙̪͚̙̳̰̹̭̠̼̭̠̗̓̉̌̊͛͒͐͒̑͛͗̆͆͑́̍̎̔͐̚̚͠͠L̸̺̺̟͔̳̇͐̽͊͐̌̉Y̵̠͂̽͗̋͐͑̂̔͋̍̏͑͑̒͊͘̕Ş̴̱͔̝̝̣̼͗̂̽̍̌́̓͆̑̒̈́̿͂̐͋̽̀̔͛̈͐̐̉̕̚͘̚̚͠İ̵̡̛̠̹̳͚̲̥̮̟̘͖̤̜͕̣̓̍̎̃͗̓̈́ͅŚ̸̨̺̭̺̻̞̝̉͑̍̌̅̃̒͂̕͠ Ư̷̧̡̧̡̻̟͉̩̗͔̮͖͚̺̖̬̥͉̩͙͛̂͂̒̄̃̓̈̅̾̓͋̍̌́̅̍̉̿̓͊̉̆̓̎̚͝͝͝ͅͅN̶̡̥͉̘̫̩̪͓͎̙̜̳͖͉͈͐̀͒̏̇̐́̄̿͆̒͌̆̐̃̈́͑̄̿̇͘͘̚͜͝͠͠Ą̶̨̨̨̧̧̛̞̮̖̫̩̦̰̜̺̤̙͈̫͈͚̘̖̥̝̗̟̬͔͖̲̠̭͚̤̯͍̭͇̥̳̭̤̖̲̹̘̩̟͙͓̳̼̩̍͒̅̀̓͗̈́̓̇̉̊͑̑̑̏̍̾̋̈̀͑̄̃̔́̈́̇̊̑̾͐͐͑̾̕̚̕̚̕͝͠͝͝͠ͅͅͅͅV̴̨̡̡̢͕͉̼̺͙̠̙͖͙̳̟̤̭͓̣͙̤̺̣͖͇̣̞̞̼̘̟̓͊̏́̋̐̄̔̊͒̀́͒͊̅̾͌̐͐͗̒̃̎͐͑̔͂͗̓̐̔̅̅̀̽͑́̈̓́̊̈́̽̎́̍̈̀̀̑͘͘͘͠͝͝͝ͅA̵̧̧̨̩̬͖͕̻͙̩̟͔̙̬̐̈͋͗͗̓͆͂̈̈́͗̔̉̃̃̈́͆̐͋̓̓̽͂̐͛̀̾̚̕͜͝͠͝ͅI̴̖̪̥̘̬̤̒͒́́́͑̓̈̍͆̍͋̉͋̑̕̚̕͠L̴̡̛̠͙̪͓̪̥͕̝͙̳̬̥͕͌̐̔̿̑̏̀̈̍̐̋͊̿̇́̂͒͛̎̍̀̉̈́͂͑͝͝͠͝͠ͅA̵̢̡̨̢̡̢̛̫̳͇͔̹̙͔̣͖̝̖̼̲͙̳̗͖̣͕͓̬̙̜̅̇̓̈͑̄̓̃͐̄͌̓̔̇̐̓̌͊̿̊͜͝ͅͅB̷̡̨̢͍̥̰̘̞͍͓̤̜͎̤͇͚̻̯͙̘̬͔͚̙̻̲̫̣͇̳̘͍̯̼̗̘͈̖̤̦̤̮͚͉̖̮̮̱̦̪͉͔̆́̾̑̾̋̑̍̑̎̃̐̔̉̓͛̍̂̄͗̆́͗͌̉͑̈́̓̄̀͋̐̑̈́̀̂͊͛̋̅̇̾͘͘͠͝͝͝ͅĻ̴̡̰͇̥͎̝̗̮̮̰̮̖̲͔̞͇̙̖͉̪̯̟̤̺̺̲̣̅̀͌̐̈́̀̓͊̆͐̀̎͂̿́̀͊͂̈́̈́́͌̍̿̈́͋̀͑̋̓̋̔̂̽̕͘͘͝ͅE̶̡͖͎͍̣̖̣̰̜̦̓͛͋̾̀̄̈̽̔̍̈̐̂͋̋̃͛̅̂̌̆͆́́͑́̀́̂͒͆̈́̋͋̉͐̀̕̕̚͠͝

 

Skeebopbadebadabadabayododayodadoandodo skoboppadobaypapapapayodadayodadangdada skaydabbabadabadoobidadodayododiyododaydodo skeebop badeep fadoobadoobadibdoodlyopdoobay skobidaybeedangdaydudayodundohdayodadodindaydaydoddobay  skadiddlydoodlyittilybootilylayliloolydaydaydoodlydadabaydadoodaydada skeebopbopbadeepfadopfadoobydopdeedadopbop  skadoobayoodindaydangdoteyodadottindudangdayoodadodayodadangdada skaybadaybadaytindaydayodadoatindoadayodadoodlabadoodlabado skababeebaabeeya bweeyabeeya skodobbadobbadoodlybadadoodlyoodadadadoodyangdayday skadiddlydoodlyittidyoodilyittidyootilydittilyoodlydididayooldidaydaydootooldayday skaybadapebopdoobydopboopbopboobydopbeepbopbobbydoobay skadopebape fadoop bopbaybobbadoobadohdoh ahbwayah ahbwayah ahbwayah ahbwayah ahbwayah aboyupbay fadop fadoop fadoobydop doopbopdoobydop beepbopboobadop skaybadaybuhdoodlybohdayodonedodayododohtindohbindobaydada skadaybittididdlydoodlybottadohdoobydoobillydoobydoodlybaydoobayoda bweebweebabadoodyoodadonaldoodayodayodohoodahoodyoandadaydop skadipdapedoadyopendangdangdoteyodendangdangdodeeyotedangdangdodeeyote skobadoopadoppadobbadabbinbobaybahyah skeebopbeedopbeedopbeedopbeedop budyaydeedoadyadooblyboadindodoyaydo doadyonedonedonedoadyodoadyo skaybaydibbydoodlybadop bweepapadoadyonedadoddindodayopaydobbadobbadopbadop zingdabubbadoodyizzazoggadoodydiddlybongdodeyongdangdadow zingdadahuzzingdadahuzzingdadahuzzingdada scoopboobyootadattictidayobbadoopdaydaydodo zingbeebeebeebeebeebeebeebeebeebeebeebeepapayapapayapapayapapayapabopbuyday badoodyoodindodohoandadoandodadaydaydooblybodayodendayday badalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalala bobbay bobbay bobbay bobbayoohbaybee azoopadoodayobbadoopadobbayodaydoandoandadang dada skalillybaylillybaylillybaylillybaylillybaylillybaylillybaylillybaylillybay skalillybaylillybaylillybaylillybaylillybaylillybaylillybaylillybaylillybay baydalillybaylillybaylillybaylillybay lillydibbadibbadaydiddybaydiduh babadoodayodayyodayyodabwiddapadoopbwiddaydoodayubbadoyah.

 

Scatman John – Scatman (Game Over Jazz) (8): You know, these last two songs on this album are just about having a good ol’ fun time. I… can’t quite remember what I said for the last song. I think I blacked out… But knowing me, it must have been completely articulate and some good song analysis. But that song is already in the past, we’ve got to live in the moment of this song right here. This one is a remix of the famous ski-ba-bop-ba-dop-bop that defines Scatman’s career, and while it doesn’t quite match up in meaning to the original version (the verses are completely absent, it’s just the scatsinging), it definitely makes up for it with the absolutely amazing funky jazz it has. The groove that bassline provides throughout the song definitely helps give the song a nice bounce to it and the rest of the instruments make this song work flawlessly with the jazz. Scatman’s vocals are a special instrument of their own that fit quite well with the piano. And of course, there’s the brass that steals the spotlight. I, once again, am not fully certain if this is a saxophone or a really good trumpet, but right now, I’m actually leaning towards the saxophone. Either way, this song is great jam to conclude Scatman John’s debut album.

 

Conclusion: Scatman is quite different from any of the artists I’ve reviewed. The era, genre and overall mood are completely alien to any song I’ve reviewed in the first half of this year. I can’t really hold my taste to omne area to be honest and while I do usually ten to the edgier songhs, there is something refreshing with the occasional more uplifting song. Scatman does seem like he should be one of those sappy artists I hate, but there’s something so sincere and authentic about the way he presents his optimism that really sweeps me up into a temporary elation of humanity’s potential. Of course, in iorder to harness this potential and embrace the utopia Scatman presents we all will have to commit a lot of effort to creating it. But I like to believe that it is possible, despite the chaos in the present, that we can find peace in the future.

 

That we can find Scatman’s World.

 

Final Score: 7/10

Celldweller – Celldweller Part 3 (2013 Instrumentals)

Album Links:

 

Bandcamp (instrumentals only): https://celldweller.bandcamp.com/album/celldweller-10-year-anniversary-edition-instrumentals

Soundcloud (original album and bonus tracks only): n/a

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

Youtube (Instrumentals from disc 1 only): https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLyL2RhXM8konpM1jG5Bb9NAzKiM4Dn4zD

Youtube (Instrumentals from disc 2 only): https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLyL2RhXM8konPjM_Tww92DcPG2XHA9OfG

 

Introduction: Final round of Celldweller’s debut album and we can put Klayton to rest for a good while as I return to some of the other artists I’ve been reviewing as well as branch out to others that I haven’t yet touched. But first, it’s time to finish up the last third of the review: the 26 instrumental songs. There may be no words left on this album. But I’ll say a few words regardless.

 

Celldweller – Switchback (Instrumental) (6): So, you may remember in the first part of this review, I mentioned the personal Switchback “meme” that my brother and I share. This is where it began. The instrumental for Switchback. Well, it actually wasn’t really as funny until we did it with the instrumental of Unshakeable, but you get the idea. However, while this was the starting point of heightening my enjoyment of Switchback’s vocals, it doesn’t actually benefit from this because those vocals are the best part of Switchback and since this is an instrumental. They simply aren’t present.

 

Ah well, I don’t want to spend too long talking about what this song isn’t. Let’s go over quickly about what the song is. First off, I want to point out the beginning of this track and how it differs a bit from the original. Why? Well, there are three Cell tracks on the original album, none of which get their own instrumental (like anyone wants thirty seconds of random ambience anyway), but Cell #1 gets some special attention in comparison to the rest as its second half is actually snuck into the beginning of this instrumental.

 

The rest of the song is… less interesting. The parts of the song that are able to utilize some of the electric side of Celldweller intrigue me slightly, but the solo rock portions are repetitive at best and they just end up making me miss the lyrics more than anything else. The closest thing this song has to an improvement is that there’s a great bassline that didn’t get much focus in the bridge, but when push comes to shove, the vocals are more important to this song than that bassline.

 

Celldweller – Stay with Me (Unlikeley) (7.25): For this song, I feel the departure of vocals actually lends its way to appreciating more of the melodies and glitches this song has to offer. And the song carries itself poised exactly as it would with vocals. Take the verses for example. In the original, there’s a couple of lines in the song that diverge from the rest (“me who said it” and “me who did it”) and while I didn’t notice it in the original (because the vocals were no top of them duh), there’s a little riff on lying underneath that carries the same energy.

 

The absence of the lyrics is an odd loss as I’m still not certain if they were truly well executed in the original. It could be about the inner turmoil of isolation (which I enjoy) but it also could be about toxic relationships. Why do I mention this here where the lyrics aren’t even relevant to this instrumental. Well, I guess I can’t tell how to rate it in relationship to those original vocals. I am thinking that this might be a slight step down, but it’s ever so slight it almost doesn’t even matter.

 

Celldweller – The Last Firstborn (Instrumental) (8): Oh yeah, remember when I said the original song would have been a bit better if there weren’t any vocals getting in the way? Well look at this! No violently suicidal vocals! Instead we have that wonderful switching back and forth between the rock and electronic that I listen to Celldweller for. And the best part is that it doesn’t even seem like the vocals are missing.

 

Most instrumental songs have an issue with feeling somewhat empty or overly repetitive. The Last Firstborn has so much constantly going on and so much constantly changing that it doesn’t even matter that the vocals are gone. It’s actually tough to highlight everything amazing that this song does, but a lot of it does have to do with the fact that there’s never a moment where one side of Celldweller electronic or rock truly takes over. My favorite parts are definitely the quicker paced electronic portions with perfectly arpeggiated chaos and a great underlying guitar for the bass. Though the bridge also deserves some mentioning

 

Whatever I highlight, the entire seven minutes is exceedingly enjoyable, and it really makes me appreciate how much effort was put into this song.

 

Celldweller – Under my Feet (Instrumental) (8.25): Without the lyrics, this song just sounds like a great journey that the guitar goes through as it progressively gets more intense. And considering that was my favorite part of the original song, I’m really happy to hear it in the spotlight. I’d already gone perhaps a bit too much in depth in the music of the original version of this review on all of the instruments surrounding this guitar’s journey (drums, choir, etc.).

 

The main takeaway is that here I can enjoy the journey without any distractions. There is one point in the middle of the song that pauses before leaping the farthest jump in intensity. It feels a little off, likely because there were some vocals closing that gap initially, but it’s not an overwhelming fault and to make up for it, the absence of the vocals in the end is extremely welcome. In the original song there were some spiteful lyrics at the end that ruined the entire message and left a bad taste in my mouth. Here, however, the journey simply fades out with the same melody the song began with. A much more satisfying form of poetry than spite.

 

Celldweller – I Believe you (Instrumental) (6.25): Ok, so while I’ve surprisingly had a good bit to say about the songs so far, this one is going to be short. I have so very little to say about it because not much in particular is standing out to me. Throughout all the rock portions of the track (and that makes up most of it), I can’t seem to find much that’s all that remarkable in comparison to anything else we’ve heard. I do enjoy bits and pieces of it. The syncopation, the little melody that occasionally appears. But most of the guitar riffs aren’t all that great. However, I do like the riffs a bit better when they’re distorted in such a way that makes them feel more distant like at the beginning. Also, the same riff is clearly better when played by a bassy synth at the minute mark. Well, at least it’s better in my opinion. My electronic bias is showing.

 

Since I am listening to this on loop as I review it, I must make sure to mention that this song loops very nicely, as that pause at the end is exactly four beats. It’s kind of an abrupt ending when played otherwise, but if you want to listen to this song forever, then you’re in for a treat. I don’t even want to do that with sons I thoroughly enjoy though so I’m going to have to pass on that one.

 

Celldweller – Frozen (Instrumental) (6.5): Hey, wait a second. This isn’t instrumental. There’s still that one moaning chick saying, “Let’s Go.” What a ripoff! I demand my money back! Except for the fact that I’m listening to this off of Spotify so the closest I am to paying for this track is the ten dollar monthly fee, and I have feeling that Spotify isn’t going to refund me my ten bucks just because some woman decided to attempt a seductive moan when she shouldn’t have. But hey, if you want to give me ten bucks, then I’m all up for it (shameless Patreon reminder).

 

Ah well, other than that, how does the rest of the track hold up. Eh. It’s a bit repetitive. I mean, I appreciate that it’s no longer oddly sexual in a way that doesn’t even seem enjoyable, but what’s left behind is a lot of empty creepiness in the verses and a simple melody in the chorus with nothing to distract from the fact that it might be considered a little bit annoying.  It’s the basslines that really save this song from falling by the wayside. Whenever, that two-note melody isn’t distracting, there’s an extra amount of focus on the basslines and they give a healthy variety to this track in the creepier verses and the first half of the bridge. And the second half of the bridge has a great guitar solo that’s worth noting.

 

Really, Frozen is a lot more enjoyable when the song itself isn’t about lack of enjoyment. Go figure.

 

Celldweller – Symbiont (Instrumental) (7.5): Funny how many of the songs with more uncomfortable lyrics have the best instrumentals. I mean, this isn’t quite as good as The Last Firstborn or Under My Feet, but the constant switch back and forth between the great halftime groove introduced in what was the song’s verses and the more upbeat insanity that comes in at the chorus. That first section has a consistent nice groove to it with the occasional glitching and the perfect smooth bassline. And then on the other side, we have the sudden drum and bass tempo with great guitar solos and some a drumbeat singing out the titular lyrics of the song (if the titular lyrics were there). Really, this one’s just a good enjoyable experience. Not exceptional, but definitely notable.

 

Celldweller – Afraid This Time (Instrumental) (7): The rewound elements of this particular song make for quite an unsettling introduction. I mean it gets better once the guitar and piano roll in there. In fact, it’s actually quite relaxing, but before that, you have to admit this song’s a bit creepy. And while creepy is all fine and good, the combination of piano and acoustic guitar is much better. Sometimes, all you need for a good time is a drumbeat, a piano and a guitar.

 

Unfortunately, this does mean that the parts of the song that are entirely drums and electronic bassline definitely pale in comparison to that perfect trio. I’m struggling to come up with anything to say about this chorus but I’m afraid it’s just uninteresting without the vocals. Which is a shame because that hampers the good guitar and piano we have in the verses.

 

Celldweller – Fadeaway (Instrumental) (8): Fadeaway’s instrumental goes through three phases. Well, I guess the original went through three phases as well as every single part of this instrumental is present in the original, but it’s much more relevant here as there are no good vocals to distract from the rest of the song. Yeah, that’s going to be a slipback in this case, but let’s talk about what the song does have.

 

The first phase obviously starts at the beginning during the first couple verses. It’s here that the song has some ominous slow pacing. The bass rumbles softly, foreboding the spectacularity that is the second phase. Every once and a while a couple of guitar melodies break the calmness, giving a break to the bassline that beckons danger, but such breaks are temporary until we reach the second phase.

 

The second phase takes all the energy that’s been building up for the past minute and a half and finally puts it to good use with the lovely quick paced DnB. There’s some decent variety here as new instruments are constantly being added and replaced, possibly allowing me to divide this phase into subphases, but I’m not going to do that. Right now, I’m just going to highlight the acidic bass that comes in at around 1:50 and the final few moments of this phase. After all the built-up energy from these guitars, a few short collections of riffs set the stage for the final phase.

 

And after just a couple seconds of silence (thanks to missing vocals), the song enters it’s final phase, one which builds up from a nice acoustic guitar laid on top of on a subtle electronic melody (which was present in the “silence” I just mentioned but I’m still calling it silence). The song doesn’t stay necessarily at this calmer acoustic level but slowly does build its way up to some bits of more intense rock, likely on the same level at the end of phase 2. It’s really nice to have a song build from simple lovely combinations into something a bit more extreme. I call that a build up from nothing. Not the best example, but it is an example, just as this is an example as a good instrumental.

 

Was better with lyrics though.

 

Celldweller – So Sorry to Say (Instrumental) (7.75): As I’d mentioned when I reviewed the vocal version of this song two weeks ago, this song stands out among many of the other Celldweller tracks due its use of strings and piano. Most songs in the Celldweller discography are some variety of rock (be it hard or soft) with some mixture of electronic elements sprinkled in there. And while this song does have some of the normal Celldweller in it. There are some good strings in many parts of the songs and the piano serves as the most memorable part of this instrumental due to their more unique nature. There’s also some odd distorted vocals near the end which I enjoy despite this being labeled an instrumental.

 

Now, I’m not just highlighting all these atypical instruments of this song to say that the rock and electronic parts are worthless in comparison. There’s plenty of variety to be had just looking at the guitar work and the glitched out drumbeat. The latter of which is generally pretty self-explanatory. A bit of syncopation and semi-unpredictability is exactly what I like and expect from drums such as these. The former, which definitely does have its usual moments does step up to provide some a good underlying drive in the song’s chorus

 

So yes, this song does hold up quite well on its own. It was admittedly a slight bit better with the existential isolation lyrics, but it still works well enough on its own.

 

Celldweller – Own Little World (Instrumental) (6): As soon as this instrumental begins my heart starts racing with pleasure, but the only reason for that is because I love the original so much. Because without the lyrics, this song really feels a bit more underwhelming than it should. Oh, it’s good, but it just feels a bit empty. The verses have this cool feeling that’s a bit more chill than the chorus as well as a bit more chilling. It doesn’t play too much with that feeling though. And the chorus is even more riskless. It’s just a couple of guitars playing the chord progression with a beat in the background. When I was listening to the original song I was so hyped up by the lyrics and their delivery that I didn’t even care how simple the chorus was. I was too busy singing along to care. And now I can’t do that. Now I’m uninterested

 

It really almost feels like the same one-minute song played twice in a row, with a final iteration with some slight changes: a verse that’s a bit less chill and chilling and a chorus that’s a bit more intense. It just ends up being a skippable instrumental which is rather surprising considering how much I enjoy the original.

 

Celldweller – Unlikely (Stay With Me) (Instrumental) (7): There are so few lyrics in the vocal version of this song, that this version feels pretty much exactly the same. And so, since I was kind of drawn towards the instrumental anyway when originally reviewing this song, I really am not left with much to say here. There’s a decent blend of electronic and rock in this one, with neither side of the Celldweller coin overpowering the other. It has nothing on the instrumental of Last Firstborn, but it still allows for a nice tone and development… Really that covers pretty much all I feel like saying on this one. It was a good song and it still is.

 

Celldweller – One Good Reason (Instrumental) (4.5): You know what? I have even less to say about this one. It drones on at the beginning sounding like a swarm of bees and then from then on out it’s just an unremarkable Celldweller song. Mostly rock with such minimal electronic portions that are only apparent in the chiller intro. I’m sure I mentioned this in the original review but it’s too heavy and gritty for my tastes.

 

At least the worst lyrics on the album are gone.

 

Celldweller – The Stars of Orion (Instrumental) (8): The Stars of Orion was another song with minimal lyrics like Unlikely (Stay With Me). But there is a difference here. While I wouldn’t say the lyrics of the original are bad (they’re pretty meaningless really), I feel like they do distract from the main creepy mood of the song. The mood created by all of the interesting instrumental content this song has to offer. It starts and ends with some great ambience, and the middle is covered in good distorted electronic basslines that fit a song of this tempo and drum pattern (hint, it’s DnB which is pretty much a guarantee of enjoyment for me). This song ends up creating an environment of feeling lost even more than the original could, making it one of my favorite instrumentals of the album (other than the songs rated 8.25).

 

Celldweller – Welcome to the End (Instrumental) (6.5): Oh no, I’m not welcoming you to the end of this review yet. Sure, this may have been the conclusion to the first part of this review, but I still have to do all the bonus tracks after this. So, I guess I’m welcoming you to the middle (about 60% done).

 

Welcome to The End is, once again, the chilliest song the album has to offer. And I’m including the vocal songs as well. Without the vocals (unless you count what I believe are dolphins at the beginning as vocals but nonhumans are not valid), this song is utterly relaxing. It’s no longer a cryptic story of leaving one’s home. It’s just a song that paints a picture of relaxing near the ocean. At least I visualize it as an ocean. The dolphins and the occasional bubbling do help with that whole thing.

 

Unfortunately, the song does feel a bit empty as it’s trying to make room for the vocals that aren’t there.  The guitar breaks the silence on occasion. But unfortunately, the song has a paradoxical relationship with the vocals. It’s more relaxing without, but with that relaxation comes an emptiness. Perhaps with a more meditative mood, this can be enjoyed, but I’ve never been one to clear my mind. So this one just stands as a good song.

 

Celldweller & Tom Salta – Ghosts (Instrumental) (7.25): And here we have a Deluxe instrumental of a Deluxe track. There’s less of these to go through, but just as much good to point out. The original’s lyrics really didn’t come too much into my play on my opinion with this one, so we’re not missing much this time around. In fact, I think this song improves a bit focusing on just the variety of sections this song has. Sure, there are a few spots where the song feels a bit emptier than it should with the absence of lyrics. Within each section of the song, there isn’t much melodic variety, which is usually covered by the cleaner vocals this song has to offer. Where there’s the grittier vocals, the song sounds a bit more complete as the bassline here holds its own. Except maybe that moment at the three minute mark where the song pauses for two full seconds for Celldweller to scream those last couple words… except he’s not screaming those words today. He isn’t there vocally. That’s the point of an instrumental.

 

But Tom Salta’s strings are definitely the star of the show here. They were the best part of the song when the vocals were present, and they still are. Outside of the bassy gritty portions of the song, it’s these strings that provide most of the variety., present especially in the chorus and before each verse. It’s a pleasure to see a few clean smooth instruments clash with Celldweller’s harsher style. This one doesn’t reach the same heights as So Sorry to Say. The basslines in this song do allow for some good variety as well, not as noticeable as the strings, but the difference between the more electronically focused bass in the verses and the rock focused bass in the chorus is distinct enough to add the perfect touch to this song.

 

Celldweller – Uncrowned (Instrumental) (7.75): Ok, this is just your typical fantastically intense DnB track. And I love DnB so that’s a good thing. Plus there’s plenty of guitars as expected from Celldweller so that’s a slight extra flavor that makes it stand out a bit from the other typical fantastically intense DnB tracks. I do quite enjoy it when rock and electronic collide (which is probably my favorite thing about Celldweller) and this song is once again one that shows off a bit of that diversity, delegating the bass to the electronic side and pretty much everything else to the rock. Oh, but it still feels quite balanced with how much bass variety this song has as it switches between lightning paced DnB and some good half-time that can be used as a breather with strings instead of guitars. The song is constantly changing, keeping me on my toes as I’m shifted back and forth between rock and electronic, DnB and halftime, this riff to that riff. The list goes on and the song is enjoyable the whole way through.

 

Celldweller – Tragedy (Instrumental) (5.75): Remember when I’d first reviewed Tragedy? I mentioned how the song really sounded like Celldweller just wanted to make a cover of a Bee Gees song with an edgier rock-oriented twist. And that’s all he really wanted to do. Make a rock cover and have a little fun without worrying over whether or not the music was exceptional. So, what is this song without the lyrics that make it a Bee Gees cover?

 

Not much. I mean, it’s not bad, but it’s so riskless in comparison to the other Celldweller songs once you strip them all down to the basics. This song is just another track to move on from.

 

Celldweller – Shapeshifter (Instrumental) (7): What is Shapeshifter without its rapped verses and violently misheard chorus? Well, the end result is still a song that still stands out a bit from its surrounding instruemntals. Or maybe I’m just saying that because anything will feel it stands out after listening to tragedy…

 

Ah well, unique or not this song has a lot of good strengths, sticking strongly to that electronic rock fusion. The rock is definitely the overwhelming of the two sides here (as per usual), but it isn’t a situation in which the electronic is completely covered up. The chorus is a bad example as the only thing close to electronic there is that annoying synth which does not help this song’s case that much (It’s only in the first chorus this time though so that’s different). The verses on the other hand have some good little plucks of flavor that help keep the song interesting even without the rapper providing the usual variety. And in the bridge, the absence of the vocals really brings out some great bassline work. I wasn’t quite certain if it was still electronic or not upon my first couple listens, but it doesn’t really matter the origin of this sound. It really adds a lot to the bridge and I’m thankful that this instrumental has allowed me to home in on its excellency.

 

Electronics aside, the parts that are fully rock do truly rock. So, I’m not at all bothered by them overtaking the spotlight at parts in this song. There’s something about the final chorus that really feels like it concludes the song quite nicely. Of course, maybe that’s just because it follows that great bridge… and it is the end of the song…

 

Still don’t know what this song has to do with shapeshifting.

 

Celldweller – Goodbye (Klayton remix) (Instrumental) (7.5): Klayton’s remix of Celldweller’s Goodbye (it’s odd and I’ll never get used to it), is a 7-minuter, which means that in order to succeed, it really needs to have a good dynamic variety to make it worth its time. And that can be tricky to do with an instrumental song that was originally made to have vocals providing some of that variety. However, I believe this nonlinear remix of Goodbye does succeed in that variety. It does so barely, but it’s just enough.

 

The beginning of the song seems to have a bassline that drones on for quite a while at first, but the drums accompany to lengthen its lifespan of interest for some time until the song fully picks up its pace with a second bassline (yes) a full DnB drumbeat (even more yes). The bassline does undergo a healthy amount of variation as the song progresses, but it never gets tired as it does take some breaks to bring in a guitar to fill in the space for a short bit, elongating the time this DnB can reasonably continue. And before it runs dry, the song finally takes a small step back tempo wise and trades the lightning paced syncopation for some slower slightly more dramatic half time with much more focus on the guitar this time around as it eventually distorts its way into a good solo for the ending as the song returns to its creepy droning roots.

 

I really can’t say that a certain part of this song is my favorite part. It’s simply a good variety of some really good ideas. Sometimes, that’s all you need for an enjoyable experience.

 

Celldweller – The Last Firstborn (Klayton remix) (Instrumental) (7.75): In my last two reviews, comparing the original version of the Last Firstborn to this Klayton remix, the latter was the clear winner. However, the reason for that victory had very little to do with the music itself, but simply because the slightly stripped down lyrics of this version happened to strip away the most problematic portions of the song. But this third part of the Celldweller review, changes everything. Because now all the lyrics have been stripped away. Klayton’s remix no longer has the lyrical advantage and now the two songs can be held side by side to determine which one is truly musically better.

 

It’s the original.

 

I mean, this is good and all and I stand by the 7.75/10 I gave it last week, but there really is little difference between this and the lyrical version. I still appreciate the mysterious progression and the focus on the electronic arp that proved to be my favorite part of the original, but there’s so many other things in the original that contribute to the electronic rock fusion that is Celldweller. And it’s that balanced fusion that really makes The Last Firstborn so exceptional. Without the lyrics holding it back, Klayton’s remix never stood a chance.

 

Still a good remix though.

 

Celldweller – Switchback (Klayton remix) (Instrumental) (6.75): Because the Copy Paste Repeat remix doesn’t have an instrumental (for understandably chaotic reasons), we’re having three of those Klayton remixes in a row. If it weren’t for the next two songs, we’d be able to knock all four of them out in one shot (though honestly, I think I’d rather have eliminated the fourth Klayton remix than sacrifice the two songs in between).

 

Anyways, we’re back to the iconic Switchback song, just without the iconic switchbacking vocals… So, is it worth anything? Well, even without the vocals, there are still plenty of elements here that are reminiscent of the original. The most prominent of them being the bassline. Now, as you saw in the beginning of this review, I’m not particularly fond of this bassline. I don’t dislike it. I’m just not fond of it. But here, it seems to work a bit better. Perhaps that’s because this is a more electronic version of switchback and not the original almost entirely rock version we heard earlier. And because of that, I’m noticing a bit more variety in how the instrumentation transforms over time. And that’s especially noticeable with the lyrics stripped away.

 

The song is still missing the variety that is usually provided by the bridge, which does hold the track back slightly and I feel with that tiny hint more of variety it would reach that 7 point threshold, but alas, it shall reside back with a 6.75.

 

This is the last of the five Switchback songs in this entire deluxe album. No going back now.

 

It’s too late to switch back.

 

Celldweller – Atmospheric Light (Demo Redux) (Instrumental) (6): This is the only demo to get an instrumental for some reason. Perhaps the redux means something that allows it to have an instrumental when the others couldn’t. Which is really a shame because Waiting could really have used an instrumental. This song on the other hand… well I didn’t really mind the lyrics from the original (didn’t enjoy them all that much but didn’t mind them), so this song didn’t need an instrumental. And to be honest, this song is really one of the most repetitive tracks that this entire album has to offer. The main electronic synth feels like it’s playing the same couple notes over and over again with maybe a little bit of automation, but not enough to give the song a full fleshed out feeling to it. The guitar does help a little and the strings do make the song actually feel complete for a brief moment, but for the most part, this song just feels a bit empty. Some decent mysterious vibes, but other than that quite insignificant.

 

Celldweller – Own Little World (Blue Stahli remix) (Instrumental) (8.25): While the instrumental of the original version of this song kind of fell flat, Blue Stahli’s version can easily hold its own even without my favorite lyrics on the album. Everything I initially enjoyed about this remix is even better the second time around. I already spoke pretty in depth about the nonvocal elements of this song last week as the vocals were already covered the week before, but there are still some things I want to go a tiny bit more in depth with.

 

First off, there’s the funky guitar in the verses. I already knew this bassline has a good groove when I’d first heard this song, but without the lyrics, there’s such a heavy focus on the deep groovy feeling emanating from the bass end of this track that I simply have to mention it again. Really any moment of the guitar is driven with so much intensity that its surprising that the vocals were able to make a mark without being overwhelmed by the instrumental. But it all worked out with the vocals, and it works quite nearly as well without. Same goes for the build-up from nothing, which was originally laden with Celldweller’s lyricless cries and now is able to have a bit more focus on the strings that serve as the backbone for that track.

 

It’s all still better with vocals though. That was obvious from the start.

 

Celldweller – Shapeshifter (Klayton remix) (Instrumental) (7.5): There is very little to say on this one. I may have bit myself in the butt when reviewing these remixes, as it’s difficult to talk of anything but music after all of the lyrical analysis has already left my system when I’d reviewed the original. And when I’d reviewed this remix, all I really said was that this song is more intense and aggressive than the original. I gave a few examples of why, but a lot of it comes down to how dense this song has become. Every single second of this song is filled to the brim with intense basslines and the like that it’s incredibly overwhelming. The electronic elements (most noticeably the simple plucks and melodies in the verses) have become a lot more prominent, but none of the guitarwork has suffered because of it.

 

I’ve said so much between the other three times I’ve reviewed Shapeshifter (all of which are somewhat similar musically outside of intensity and whether or not there are vocals), that I feel that there is very little left to say for this one.

 

Celldweller – Goodbye (Instrumental) (5.5): Goodbye has a great build at the beginning of the song, filled with ominous basslines (both the long sweeping distortion and the wavering notes) and the occasional melody. This build is the best part of the song, concluding with some a good rise with the guitar as we near the main theme of the song.

 

And that’s about all I have to say positively for this one. This song goes nowhere. This wasn’t much of a problem with the original version as it had some existential lyrics about the neverending passage of time, but as time passes in this version… it’s just not that interesting. The guitar is repetitive and plodding. The short breaks are somewhat appreciated, but I’ve noticed that they’re really the same pattern without the guitar. The melody near the end does provide a bit more variety, but it really wouldn’t be special in any other song. Only reason I appreciate it here is because the rest of the song is a bit bland. And that says more about the low quality of the song than the higher quality of the melody.

 

And as it turns out, because the demos are defunct and there’s no instrumental available for the orchestral wonder that is Switchback (No I’m Not remix), we are actually ending this review, once and for all with a fitting song.

 

Goodbye.

 

Conclusion: Ok, that’s the last of Celldweller I plan on reviewing for a long while. I love the guy, but his Deluxe albums are a bit extreme, especially this time around. And so, after three whole consecutive weeks of Celldweller, I plan on delaying coming back to revisit his discography any time soon. Maybe not even this year. Good album though. There were definitely some rough patches here and there, but each part of the review got better and better. In some ways I guess the instrumentals didn’t add too much content for me to talk about, but I feel it did allow me to shed some nice light on some of the edgier tracks whose lyrics got in the way. Sometimes, you just have to strip down a song to its elements to truly enjoy it. This doesn’t always work though as there were definitely a few songs in here that would have been better had Klayton still been singing, but you can’t win them all. But seeing as the score has slightly improved, I guess you have to win some of them.

 

Final Score for Original album: (6.5/10)

Final Score for Bonus Tracks: (6.75/10)

Final Score for Instrumentals: (7/10)

Final Score for Album Overall: (6.75/10)

 

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)

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)