Mind.in.a.box – Memories (2015 album)

Album Links:


Bandcamp: n/a

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

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

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





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




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


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


It was then that White began to lose control.


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


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


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


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


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


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


But they have a key.


The music of Mind.in.a.box


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


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


It is time to join the Sleepwalkers.


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


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


For now…


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


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


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


There is hope…


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


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


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


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




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


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


You could say that he places is his mind…


In a box.


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


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


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


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


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


What matters now is the next step of his journey…


It won’t be an easy one…


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


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


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


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


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


And then he came back…


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


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


Now is the time for action.


Black exits the Dreamweb…


And makes his way to the Agency.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Now, he remembers.


Now, he knows the truth.


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


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


A long tone that seems reminiscent of a flatline…


Black’s fate is uncertain…


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Final Score: (8.25/10)

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

Album links

Bandcamp: n/a

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

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

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



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




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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


It’s in his mind.


The time for action is at hand.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


It’s time to take control.


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


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


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


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


But that’s a story for another day.


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


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


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


For now, it’s the Dreamweb.


The music is the key…


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Perhaps the memories shall fall into place as well.


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


Final Score: (8/10)


Mind.in.a.box – R.E.T.R.O. (2010 album review)

Album links

Bandcamp: https://mind-in-a-box.bandcamp.com/album/r-e-t-r-o

Soundcloud: n/a

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/0ALIVYfLz7Pahmoq22y7HE?si=lZuIefmnRDmI2P2QzNNnvg

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLF92F0FBECAC4CCB6



I̸̧̪̱̻̬̟̜̖̓́̍̃ṋ̵̨̬͓͔͚̣̞͖̘̒̇̓̓̈́̊̒̿̍̄̈̕͝͝ͅt̶͓̖̠̮̜̙̓r̵̨̞̹͕̝͎̜͓̥̩̤͔̈̑̑͒̔̀͐̈͊̈́̽̎ō̷̝͕̗͇̦̪̰̩̩͎̖̱̳̒͆͘d̵̢̑͌̋͋̏̐̔͗̽̽͒̑͒͜͠͝ụ̴͔͎̺̜̗͍̖͔̹̟̞̥͙̤̆̇̾̃̆̄̐̔͆̂͘͝͝ĉ̴̡̛̳̟̦͈̮͇͉̭̫͉̦͈̀̃̿͌͋͒̑̋̂̉͘̚̚t̵̢̧̛̯̟͕͙̖̪̻̩̗́̾͗̐̈͑̋͑͋͆̓̾̋̂ͅi̵̛̻͎̤̣̝̣̇̋̄͊̑͑̌͌͜͝͠ó̵̧̟͒͆̈̊̋̀̓̽͘͠͝ň̵̞̣̘̩̣͔̗̣̝̪͉̲̠̰͂̏̉͊̏̆͐͐̊̋̆͐͠: ………………………………………………………………………









Last time on Mind.in.a.box: Oh boy Black went through a lot of challenges in the last chapter of Mind.in.a.box. L̶͉̜͕̻̲̼̿̅́̕͜͝͝e̶̙̅̔̌͋̏̌t̷̛͚͌͛̐̐̏̈́͌̄̈̊̆͋͝’̴̢̺̩̹̦̠́̈́̄͜ș̵̢̪̬̥̝̭̗̲̈̕ͅͅͅ ̶̘̹̓̿̄̅̂̐̽̋̑͘͝r̷̮͐̏̀̇͠e̸̢̩̥̐̊̂̐̊͐͆̓͑̓̇̕̚͠v̵̭̰͎̙̼̑͋͛̑́į̴͇͉͚͎̻̫̣̪̳͒̇̽͌̂́̆̓̋͑͋̇ę̷̨̛͔̻̟̮͉͒̈́w̶̤̜̟̙͉͎̘̯͆̆͊̂͛̀͌ͅ ̵̪͌̿̀̏́͂w̶̢̨̛̗̦̭̺̘͇̳͂́̆̍̀h̸̨̧̛̞̪̲̮̣̪͐̀̒̈́͜͝a̶̫̭̹̖̼͔̱̫̫̭̙̺͚͐̄͐͂͗̔̽̋͗̒̇̚͜͠͠t̸̯̜̿̒͒̓͛̈́ͅ ̴̡͖̬͓̪͚͓͌̃̀̓̊͠h̷͖͍͍̺̩̳̐̄̀̓͊͊̅́̇͐̔̾͛͠a̶͔̭͔̱̙͆p̵̪͙̖͎̘̔͒̀͘͜ͅp̵͉̫̠̞͓̻̦͈͈͆ͅe̶̡̧̛͍̺͇̣̥͐̓͑͆ņ̸̦͚̗̣̻̣̝̑͆́̇̒͐́̊͊̕͠e̵̗̖͠d̴̤͇̣̖̈̈͗̽̅̿̂͛̚̚ ̸̤̗̘͂̐̌̈́͒́̎̄͒r̵̢̞̙̜͈̪̝̱̥̹̪̠̼̞̒͘e̷̡̧̧͔̘̳͙̤͕͠͝ã̴͔̳͈̮̱͓͇̍̈́́͋̈́́̄̈͘l̶̪͓̓̉͆̄̎̈́͒͐̿̕ ̷͕͕̊͊̏̈̓͑̿̏̈́̊̅̏q̵̧̪͉̞͇̯͓͇̲͓͍̙̈́̾̀͌͌̍̑̔͝͠ͅͅu̸̧͚͍̝͓̫͕̹͑͗̈́̿̽̎̊̾̾̄́̕͠ȉ̵̢̝̟̦̔͛̌͋̚͜c̷̗̋̏̏́̇̽̍͋ḳ̷̡̱͓͖̱̳̒͂ ̶̢̨̲̦͚̠̥̎̂̿̿̈̔̈̏̈́̏̀̾͝ḇ̴̪͍̲͍̞̤̄́̑̄̐̂̎̾̋͘̕͝͝͠ë̶̙̪͓͈̟͉͉̫̳̖̯̔̌̏́͝ͅf̵̡̖̝͕̝̿̈́̍̉̂̏͆͘͝ǫ̷̛͍̣̰̘̩̟̯͚̭͉͉̮̎̽͑͒̈́̀́́̌̚͜͝ŕ̴̻͖̬̹̀́́͂̔͆͝ȩ̷̡͖͕̯͙͓̪̝͇̭̾̑̓̈́…̸̗͓͓̩̓̀̕…………………………………………








Introduction: Actually, let’s hold on for a second. This may be a Mind.in.a.box album but there’s no need to recap the story this week. For the story is generally irrelevant to R.E.T.R.O. Think of it as an intermission of sorts. None of the songs in this album hold any bearing on the story we’ve been traversing through over the past 2 months or so. Here, Stefan takes a step back and just makes a handful of songs inspired by games off of the Commodore 64. A retro flashback to his nostalgic days I presume. This is unfortunately his most popular album. I say unfortunately because I rather prefer the storytelling songs rather than the slightly more attempted nostalgic style that much of this album takes on. It isn’t a bad album but… You know what? I can explain my feelings on the songs of this album while I review them. Maybe I should start on that.


Mind.in.a.box – The Last Ninja III (6): Not to be confused with The Last Ninja (which appears later on in this album) or The Last Ninja II (which is completely irrelevant to his album but I’m sure it exists). A large number of these songs are somewhat remixes of games from the Commodore 64. This one is the first one. I trust it to be based off of the game, The Last Ninja III, but I wouldn’t know because I haven’t played any Commodore 64 games as I hasn’t grown up in that era (earliest gaming system for me is the original Xbox so I’m kind of in the late middlish I think).


However, despite my lack of knowledge, I decided to take a second and look up the theme music of this game I only just heard of just now (I’m a listener of music, not a player of games) and it sounds like this is a pretty faithful recreation involving a slightly more updated feel as the technological sound of Mind.in.a.box has taken over many of the melodies and drumbeats of this song. There are a few portions that maintain a very similar sound to the original game soundtrack (the section at 1:11 being the most prominent example)


However, I don’t really feel that this is the strongest fusion of electronic and retro chiptune. A lot of the elements work well. The main melody has taken on a more modern feel and it fits quite well with the drumbeat and bassline. And there’s some subtle arps added in the second half that really flesh out the full Mind.in.a.box feeling (or at least as close as we can get). The sections that are a bit closer in tone to the original Commodore 64 game however… it’s a bit of a clash to be brutally honest. This song just really doesn’t strike me as anything worthwhile. It has some good ideas here and there, but it could have been executed a lot better.


Mind.in.a.box – Lightforce (6.75): Lightforce feels a bit more polished and seems to fit the general Mind.in.a.box mood much better. The introduction to this song in particular feels a lot like it could be part of the story of Black and his explorations through the Dreamweb. It’s not about that. None of the album is about that (well, it’s debatable for some of the later songs but we’ll get there when we get there. No, this song is a throwback to the soundtrack from an old space shooter known as Light Force (hence the title. Titling songs after the game it’s based on is a theme for a good half of the songs on this album). It’s a pretty faithful modernized recreation from what I can hear after looking up this game I hadn’t heard of prior to reviewing this album.


Everything in this song meshes a lot better than we saw in The Last Ninja III. I still don’t think of retro chiptune melodies when I think of Mind.in.a.box, but at least this song doesn’t really distract with its 8-bit elements. Perhaps it helps that much of the song, particularly the arp and the bassline, have a rather simple tone to them as well. Because of this, everything feels much on the same level, unlike the weird mesh of cinematic and 8 bit we had back in The Last Ninja III.


My only complaint is that this song is a bit excessive in length. I do like the occasional lengthy song, but there has to be enough variety for the song to earn it. And to be honest, I feel like this song could get along just fine at half the length. Ah well. Still a decent track.


Mind.in.a.box – The Last V8 (7): The Last V8 tells of the chaos arising within a family that all wants a can of V8 veggie-fruit juice. But there is only one left. And so, they engage in a never-ending battle over the last V8.


Actually, it’s another song that references a game of the same name. I mean, what else did you expect? That’s all this album has been so far. It’s not going to change soon. As usual, we have a decent modernized version of a decades old song from a classic video game that I’m sure makes Mr Poiss extremely nostalgic.


This one seems to be one of the closest to the game that inspired it based on what I could scrounge up. The stronger bassline and the smoother melodies really fit together quite well. I especially love the combination introduced right at the beginning. There’s less instruments and vocals distracting from the simplicity of these two instruments as they bounce off each other. Nothing wrong with the instruments and vocals or anything. I just enjoy the simpler vibes a bit more. The whole point of this album might be focusing on being R.E.T.R.O., but honestly, the 8 bit portions are often my least favorite part.


Oh yeah. This song has vocals too. It almost sounds like it belongs in the Mind.in.a.box storyline. As I’ve established already, it doesn’t. Pretty sure the lyrics here are referencing various elements of the game this song is based on. So, there’s not as much to get into with these lyrics. It’s a bit more fun when I get to delve deep into Black’s mind and the world that he lives in. Could’ve nearly fooled me though. There ae a lot of mentions of a guy in white… but that couldn’t be our White… Could it?


Mind.in.a.box – Supremacy (7.25): You know the drill. Supremacy shares the theme with a video game of the same name. The game was retitled Overlord when it came over to the US (where I live, though I wasn’t living when the game was released), but that fact is completely irrelevant. Mind.in.a.box is Austrian anyway, so they needn’t care for the renaming.


The mood of this song is completely transformed in this case. Oh, the melody stays the same. It wouldn’t be much of a remix if it didn’t contain a melody from the original title theme of the game, but when I went ahead and looked up the original song form the game, the mood was completely different. The game had a bouncy upbeat feel backing the melody that Stefan chose to base this song around. However, when we get to the remake in question (I am reviewing Mind.in.a.box, not games from two and a half decades ago), the song focuses a lot more on ambience.


I definitely prefer this transformed calmer mood. Maybe I’m biased because Mind.in.a.box is my favorite artist and it would be quite nearly impossible for me not to prefer his version over anyone else’s, but I feel there’s a bit more variety with what Mind.in.a.box creates by creating a calmer atmosphere and building off of it. Over time, the song grows slightly more intense, pulling away from the ambient vibe that the song started with and growing in intensity with increased arpwork. Eventually, the song reaches its climax in which the main melody from Supremacy. Only difference is that instead of committing to the bouncy mood of the original. Mind.in.a.box opts to aim for a more cinematic feeling with a slower drumbeat and some slower basswork (almost sounds a bit like a guitar, but not nearly as much as Machine Run).


Overall, this is one of the better adaptations of a game soundtrack to be seen on this album. The overall progression and variety really makes it stand out above some of the less interesting or overly lengthy tracks I’ve reviewed so far.


Mind.in.a.box – Shades (6.25): As far as I can tell, Shades does not come from a Commodore 64 video game. That’s different. Well there are a few other songs like this as well, the soundtrack recreations only take up half the album and we’ve looked at the majority of them already. How about a short break for something a bit more original? Shades, while not taking inspiration from any particular game, still maintains a similar retro feeling within its core. Many of the synths used to imitate the 8-bit melodies are still present here. Or at least there’s something similar in play.


After spending so much time comparing the covers to their original counterparts, it’s kind of weird to look at this track as its own original creation. I guess I’m just stuck in comparison mode. Ah well, I can still compare this to the last few songs on the album. It’s really par for the course. There’s plenty of decent elements to the song but few of them really stand out.


The drumbeat is kind of in the middle as far as tempo goes. Wouldn’t say it’s plodding, but it definitely isn’t driving either. There’s a bit of nice variety to it with a few extra syncopated kicks added into the mix at some points in the song.


As for melodies, they aren’t really distracting like in The Last Ninja III, mostly because they have longer notes with smoother transitioning. However, it just doesn’t feel quite as dynamic as it could be. There’s just not really much to work with. Some simple melodies play in the background but they don’t really add much to the song from what I can hear.


And then there’s basslines… I guess. I really don’t have much to say about these basslines. Inoffensive but completely forgettable.


I want to enjoy this song, but it really has nothing to offer that can’t be given by the other songs on the album.


Mind.in.a.box – 8 Bits (6.5): Here it is. The most popular Mind.in.a.box song. It shouldn’t be a song from this album, but it is. 8 bits may be enough for some people, but not me. Ok that was too harsh. I just wanted to do a pun on the song lyrics.


8 Bits and its counterpart, I Love 64, seem to tell their own narrative in a way. Not saying it’s connected to the narrative from the other albums. Not nearly as good as that. No, these songs seem to follow a virtual being made of code, though the tone doesn’t quite fit with the type of code I’d consider to be related to the Dreamweb. Interestingly, the world of 8 Bits is the reverse of the main Mind.in.a.box universe. Instead of escaping into the virtual universe known as the Dreamweb. An emulated entity desires to transcend its world perhaps to enter into our own reality. That would be a bit crazy though, right?


Both stories do have an element of trying to escape the world we see in front of us and redefining reality to maybe find a way to live comfortably with ourselves. And I think both themes are worth looking into. But this song feels somewhat cheapened. With everything that the rest of the discography shows, 8 Bits is very shallow in comparison. It’s alright but it just feels shallow.


The brighter happy music does contribute to this. Simple drumbeat and bassline with no harsh elements. And the melodies are made completely of short little chiptune bleeps and bloops. It’s definitely a happy mood. Maybe that’s my problem. I do seem more attracted to slightly edgier music. This song just doesn’t do it for me in the same way. It’s a good song despite my negativity, but it pales in comparison to everything else.


Mind.in.a.box – Mindkiller (7.25): All this time we’ve been putting the mind in a box, but now we’re killing it? Well this has taken a violent turn. Mindkiller is surprisingly not from a video game called Mindkiller. It’s actually supposedly from a game called Parsec. It’s only called Mindkiller because those are the sole words spoken throughout the song. Or are those words spoken because the song is called Mindkiller. Why isn’t this song called Parsec?


Actually, come to think of it, does the music here come from Parsec? Because I looked up the game on Youtube and I can’t find any moment anywhere in the surprisingly varied soundtrack (in comparison to the other games I’ve looked at) that sounds like what I’m hearing in this song. I’ll be honest, I got that little tidbit of info from Wikipedia which is possibly not the most reliable source. It is possible I missed the similarities though so if anyone else magically hears it, let me know.


Anyways, enough of the pondering of the song’s source and title. That information holds no weight on my final rating. It’s the music itself that matters. And this music is definitely different from what I’ve heard so far on this album. In fact, this is one of the three songs that I might consider to be suspiciously similar to what I’d expect from the more narrative albums. Perhaps the melodies are a bit more simplistic in the beginning, but the rest of the music here sets up a great dark atmosphere. The drumbeats are constantly changing, focusing on an eclectic range of kicks, snares and claps to keep that unsettling mood going. Not to mention the creepy breathing down the neck that builds as the song reaches the midway point.


The second half of the song sounds much like the Mind.in.a.box I know and love. That technological arp really is a staple that’s been missing for a lot of the songs in this album. The drumbeat does return to more regular four on four beat here, but it still maintains a bit of its edge to keep that unsettling vibe in place. And of course, there’s the titular lyric: Mindkiller. I theorize that this as well as two other songs later in this album are deleted scenes from previous albums, this one being the least developed of the bunch. The Mindkiller could be a deleted element from the Mind.in.a.box universe that was cut in favor of some of the other mind-bending elements sch as the Dreamweb and the Stalkers. I have no idea what a Mindkiller would be, but it could very well fit in with what Stefan has already created for us. But we shall never know what it would be, for if it was ever part of the story, it has since been removed.


Mind.in.a.box – The Last Ninja (7.25): Not to be confused with The Last Ninja III (which appeared earlier on in this album) or The Last Ninja II (which is completely irrelevant to his album but I’m sure it exists). A large number of these songs have been remixes of games from the Commodore 64. This one is the last one. I trust it to be based off of the game, The Last Ninja, but I wouldn’t know because I haven’t played any Commodore 64 games as I hasn’t grown up in that era (earliest gaming system for me is the original Xbox so I’m kind of in the late middlish I think).


But enough with recycling content, now that I have a soundtrack to compare it to (unlike with the enigmatic Mindkiller), I can faithfully say that this is a pretty good recreation. When I’d scoured through the soundtrack on Youtube (much easier to sort through than Parsec), I found a song that confused me because it sounded exactly like the Mind.in.a.box remix at the beginning. More accurately, the Mind.in.a.box version sounds exactly like the beginning of the original piece, but that simply isn’t the order I heard it so that’s not how I experienced the comparison.


But a good remix isn’t just about making the song sound similar to the original. It’s about improvement. And Mind.in.a.box’s modernization is certainly an improvement. As far as composition goes, this sounds like a direct copy of the original soundtrack with some drums added into the mix. However, it’s only the beginning of the track that truly sounds identical to the original. As the song travels forward in time as far as duration is concerned, it also travels forward in time in the modernity of its sound design. It may start with the simple 8 bit melodies, but it isn’t long before this songs starts using more guitars and modern synths to display the melodies originally composed three decades ago. And it definitely works quite well, as it sounds in some places that the original Commodore 64 wasn’t quite up to par with its instrumentation for some of these melodies (or maybe I have a bias towards Mind.in.a.box). It still incorporates some chiptune elements in there to maintain the retro integrity of the song, but there’s some great guitar added into the mix as well as a fantastic breakbeat portion in the middle.


Despite its intense modernization. This song serves as the most faithful recreation of the other recreations this album has to offer.


Mind.in.a.box – I Love 64 (6.5): And now to continue in the two-song universe of the emulated soul trapped in an 8 bit world. Fittingly, I love 64 refers to 64 bits. A bit of an upgrade from the 8 bits we had in the last song. I love 64 follows our eight-bit emulated entity as it discovers a second being made of 64 bits. 8 falls in love with 64 and romance begins to blossom between the two as 8’s eyes are opened to an entire new world beyond the one it had been stranded in back in the last song. Filled with desire, 8 wants to upgrade to become part of 64’s world but worries about whether their love will last through the transformation.


Honestly, it’s a cute love song with a unique spin on it. It serves as a nice logical sequel to 8 Bits as it allows the protagonist a window to embrace its dream to transcend into a greater reality. And in doing so the story of a search for meaning also becomes a search for love. There really isn’t much in particular to say about this one. It’s pretty similar to 8 Bits in tone and serves as a bouncy happy distraction before we get to the last two edgier songs that conclude this album.


Mind.in.a.box – We Cannot Go Back to the Past (7.5): This could have very well been a song on Crossroads that just ended up getting cut and left aside to be released later on this album. One of the very themes on Crossroads was moving on from the past. A song of not being able to go back to the past would have fit the album perfectly. However, it really just states an idea and it hits the nail pretty hard on the head. There’s really not much added into the narrative by including this song so that might explain the reason it was cut (if I’m correct at considering this song to be a deleted scene). The remaining songs gave this message out clearly enough on their own.


Seeing as the more narrative driven side of Mind.in.a.box is what I like most, this song is a bit closer up my alley. The C64 covers are fine and the short 8-bit storyline is suitable, but it’s Black’s journey that got me into Mind.in.box. This song gives a small taste of that feeling, even if it really is just stating the title of the song on repeat… kind of like Mindkiller did. Unfortunately, all that’s to be said about moving on from the past was said in my Crossroads review so you should probably just go ahead and read that one. Best album I’ve reviewed so far.


As for the music, it’s got a really solid bassline introduced at the very beginning of the song that serves as a backbone to the rest of the track. It’s dark. It’s a bit mysterious. And it honestly has a lot more texture than any of the other basslines I’ve heard from Mind.in.a.box. Like if the song Mind.in.a.box on Mushrooms ever came into existence (it’s not going to but that would be cool), then I’d likely expect a bassline like this one to be a main element. It doesn’t sacrifice its iconic technological nature, but it still creates something new that I haven’t heard in any of the other songs as far as I can remember.


Really, the bassline was the only musical element I wanted to highlight. Maybe if I weren’t so late on getting this review out (not going to stress too much about that. I cannot go back to the past), I’d try and dig deeper into the other parts of this song, but nothing is really as prominent as that bassline, which is fine because the bassline carries the song very well.


Mind.in.a.box – Whatever Mattered (8.75): Saving the best for last. This song could have definitely replaced The Place from Crossroads. I’m not entirely certain which one was produced first as I’m the one calling them deleted scenes and for all I know, I’m just making assumptions, but if he was choosing between this and The Place, I personally think he made the wrong choice. Really, it’s mostly a musical preference. The Place definitely had some flaws that held it back from me enjoying it. It was just a bad combination of musical elements that didn’t quite fit, making it the worst song on the album.


This, however, is the best song on this particular album. While The Place had conflicting moods between the piano and low end technological synths, this song focuses on a very smooth collection of instruments the feel somewhere in between. It does focus more on the relaxing side of Mind.in.a.box just as The Place did, but all of the melodies feel a lot smoother. Sure, they don’t stand out as much as the piano in The Place, but they do serve the song well in creating a deeply relaxing and introspective mood. And seeing as Whatever Mattered is all about introspection, then that works quite well for the song.


I will admit that when it comes to lyrics, The Place is a little bit better. It goes a lot more in depth to where Black is in his life (though it surprisingly doesn’t give much details on where Black is physically considering that the song is called The Place). This song is a bit more simplistic focusing only on the concept of moving forward into the future despite the past. And yet, stripped of much of the narrative detail, it does maintain the soul and message that was there in The Place. It’s more simplistic, but I feel that only makes the message stronger. Living in the past does not make the present a comfortable place to build one’s future.


Plus, it sounds good so there’s that.


Conclusion: This is Mind.in.a.box’s worst album. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good album, but I can’t help but prefer the more unique narrative that expands exponentially as the discography continues. Worldbuilding is just a passion of mine.


This album is simply different. It instead serves as a tribute to the Commodore 64 and some of its games as well as testing some new waters without contributing to the storyline. Maybe I’d like it more if I’d played these games as part of my childhood, but I wasn’t even alive at the time they were released, so you can’t really blame me too much for overlooking them (again, gaming is a minor pastime for me, not a passion).


While I may suggest skipping it if you’re listening to the discography chronologically for the narrative, I still think it’s worth coming back to once you finish listening to whatever the most recent installment is in Mind.in.a.box story.


Final Score: (7/10)

Daily Hat Track Roundup: February 2019

It was here that Tuesday Newsday ended, but we don’t talk about that. This is just the February Daily Hat Track roundup post. Nothing more.


Daily Hat Track: February 1 (King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard – Cyboogie): Cyboogie walks a surprisingly thin line between a fun groovy vibe an oddly ominous vibe slinking along I’m the background.


Daily Hat Track: February 2 (Kick Bong – This Charming Violin (TPOT remix): End of a long unfortunately unproductive day. So today I’ll just mention the song having a food vibe and some beautiful violins and female vocals. It truly is quite a lovely track.


Daily Hat Track: February 3 (Ashbury Heights – Spiders): Remember the all too edgy Ashbury Heights album from a couple weeks ago? Here’s a song that’s a step in the right direction of edge. Actually the track that introduced me to the duo (with revolving door of female vocalists).


Daily Hat Track: February 4 (Myndflame – Club Thrall): I didn’t get far into my Discovery Weekly due to download troubles but this song in particular had a good drive and variety to it. That’s about all I have to say about it at the moment though.


Daily Hat Track: February 5 (Electric Universe, Hilmar & Chico – Rockers and Rollers): The moment I see an Electric Universe song I think psytrance. The moment I see the song title referencing rock n roll I think kick-ass guitar sections. This song delivers on both counts and I love it.


Daily Hat Track; February 6 (Bliss & Alex Berserker – Warriors Guitar Mix): A couple days ago I shared a psytrance song with some rocking guitars. Well, today I’m sharing THE psytrance song with rocking guitars. This eleven minute experience is well with your time.


Daily Hat Track: February 7 (Infected Mushroom i-wish (Acoustic Live Remix)): Each time, I listen to this acoustic version of I Wish, I like it more and more. It used to be my least favorite from IM21 pt 1, but now it’s second favorite right behind Bliss’ remix of Bust a Move (which is unbeatable).


Daily Hat Track: February 8 (Mind.in.a.box – Amnesia): Today I’m just going to throw back the song that introduced me to my current favorite artist. Really pulled me into the computerized vocals and the existential themes. Probably one of my best musical discoveries of all time.


Daily Hat Track: February 9 (Infected Mushroom – Dancing with Kadafi): I’ve shared a lot of long songs as of late, but I consider this one to be the epitome of journeys through sound. It’s an absolute classic.


Daily Hat Track: February 10 (The Anix – TECHUNTER): Only just finished up Friday’s Release Radar and this nearly cinematic technological wonder was one of the last ones in the playlist. It’s also the best one in the playlist.


Daily Hat Track February 11 (Eisfabrik – Walking Towards the Sun): Actually got all the way through my Discovery Weekly in one day (which is rare). And this was bothering the grooviest and most inspiring of the bunch. It’s not often that you find such good futurepop with an uplifting vibe.


Daily Hat Track: February 12 (Mind.in.a.box – Redefined): I have no words right now or too many words. Either way, I’d forgotten how great this song is (definitely one of my all time favorites). Music and lyrics are dense with power and meaning and you should listen to it right now


Daily Hat Track: February 13 (Infected Mushroom – Frog Machine): Does this track make anyone else envision a giant monstrous frog throwing it’s little normal frog coworkers into a fiery furnace before usurping it’s boss that happens to be a corpse of bones lying in the corner? Just me? Ok.


Daily Hat Track : February 14 (Infected Mushroom – In Front of Me): Not much to say about this one. It’s just resonating a bit too much with me right now. Every line is filled with relatable existential anguish.


Daily Hat Track: February 15 (Worakls – Cloches): Worakls and his Hungry Music fellows are always a treat to listen to. Therefore this is one of my favorites of this week’s Release Radar.


Daily Hat Track: February 16 (Infected Mushroom – Return to the Suace): Here’s another song that makes me visualize a music video except this one makes less sense because it’s a sea voyage adventure involving a sea serpent and a time distortion device. My imagination is vividly random.


Daily Hat Track: February 17 (Infected Mushroom – Demons of Pain): I usually tend to listen to the remix from the Return to the Sauce album, but my love doe the existential original still holds today. I may have been listening to too much Infected Mushroom lately though.


Daily Hat Track: February 18 (Kick Bong (Progress in Happiness Remix)): Here’s a funky groove of happiness from Kick Bong for yesterday’s Daily Hat Track. Sleep schedule adjustment is making me forgetful.


Daily Hat Track: February 19 (Scatman John – U-turn): Didn’t really listen to Scatman when he was alive, but I have been enjoying his music for quite a few years nonetheless. This one about healing one’s soul with a new beginning is the most applicable to my life at the moment.


Daily Hat Track: February 20 (OVERWERK – Reign): I’ll admit I’m really only into this one for the bassline. It has a good groove overall, but the bassline is what makes it.


Daily Hat Track: February 21 (Infected Mushroom – Saeed): I already knew this was my favorite Infected Mushroom song, but after relistening to it today. It’s even better than I remember. Every moment in this track, be it lyrical or musical, is incredibly powerful.


Daily Hat Track: February 22 (Electric Universe – Dragonfly): Psytrance songs named after winged insects are good ok? What else is there to say?


Daily Hat Track: February 23 (Andy Hunter – Go): Andy Hunter was my first electronic artist. Go was his first song. If you’re guessing I have some nostalgia attached to this song, you couldn’t be more right.


Daily Hat Track: February 24 (Liquid Soul – Hypnotic Energy (Pitch Bend Remix): As I was scouring through this week’s Release Radar in search or tracks worthy of mentioning for Newsday Tuesday this fresh psytrance track proved to be the most worthy.


Daily Hat Track: February 25 (The Luna Sequence – Veil Walled Garden): Today’s Discover Weekly reminded me how awesome The Luna Sequence is at blending electronic and rock elements. All of her stuff definitely has an energetic vibe to it.


Daily Hat Track: February 26 (Andy Hunter – Sandstorm Calling): An Andy Hunter classic. One of the two nonlyrical songs on the Exodus album. Definitely feel some nostalgia listening to this.


Daily Hat Track: February 27 (Ayria – Feed Her to the Wolves): Isn’t it great when you discover an oddly catchy song during lunch and have to spend the rest your workday trying not to sing of how you had a woman eaten alive wolves and then displayed her body to intimidate your enemies?


Daily Hat Track: February 28 (Carpenter Brut – Paradise Warfare): Carpenter Brut is great but Carpenter Brut with a saxophone? Mmmmmmm


Remember to follow Twitter for a new Hat Trac every day and to take a look at the Daily Hat Track Playlist linked below.




One last thing. I wanted to apologize for missing the review last Friday. As I’d mentioned on twitter I ended up having to take the week off due to health issues but I’ll be putting extra effort into keeping on track for these reviews from now on (Getting rid of Tuesday Newsday should help

Mind.in.a.box – Crossroads (2007 album)

Album links

Bandcamp: https://mind-in-a-box.bandcamp.com/album/crossroads

Soundcloud: n/a

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/4ttiMmV56iQRKSuCOhSiPl?si=ADufv63kRtKTFT8hJhQ_mQ

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLv8kgGG6wGqRAE8yajRvCTEaWfkYIuL04




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




Last time on Mind.in.a.box: White has tasked an agent with a mission to track down a hacker, but unfortunately, his target has escaped into an alternate reality, the Dreamweb. Thankfully, White had found a lead that the two of them can use to try and figure out how to enter the Dreamweb and apprehend the hacker that has been eluding them for several months now. The lead? A woman who’d spoken to the hacker the night of the disappearance. The agent finds her at a club, but something strange occurs. The music within the club invades him mind, giving him visions of another world. His dreams have been infected by an unknown source. The gap in his memories remains unfilled and the agent begins to suspect that his mind may have been wiped at some point in time. The agent prepares to take the next step in his journey, but the question is which step will he take?


He finds himself at a Crossroads…


Mind.in.a.box – Introspection (7.75): This introduction isn’t a recap. It’s an information overload. The entire perspective of the agent’s world has been turned on its head. He awakes under the care of two people, a man and a woman, The Friend and Night (Just guess who these two are. I dare you). He is greeted with a smile as he floats in an enclosed pool of water. A weightless environment in which the Sleepwalkers attempt to save his identity from his employer’s mindwipe. White isn’t who he seems.


No one is as they seem.


Honestly, all of the introductory songs to the Mind.in.a.box albums are great, but this one is one of the most enjoyable to listen to. I can’t fully decide which is better, this or Tape Evidence. Tape Evidence did a better job at being immersive by using foley along with the agent’s narrative. The music in this song however, is an immediate step up from much of the music in the last album. A perfect balance between the energetic basslines overlaid over high-paced syncopated drumbeats and the melodies that match the mysteries that are to come.


As of right now, I prefer this over Tape Evidence as I enjoy the music a lot more this time around and I feel like there’s a great overload of new information introduced here. And while this does answer the question of how the agent’s memories had begun to fade from his mind, several more questions take its place. Who are the Sleepwalkers? Who exactly are Night and the Friend? How did they get a hold of the agent and where is this empty flat they’ve taken him to? More importantly, where was Black when he’s woken up underwater? And what happened when the glass shattered?


The world is changing. And it will never be the same again.


Mind.in.a.box – Amnesia (8.25): I mentioned this in a previous Daily Hat Track, but Amnesia is quite a special song to me in the Mind.in.a.box discography. Any firsts are incredibly valuable in my opinion. And as my first song from my current favorite artist at the moment, this one definitely has a nostalgic bias.


As far as the music goes, this song doesn’t do any thing particularly special. It plays a little bit with the whole technological Mind.in.a.box vibe but most of the song is just the same bassline and four on four drumbeat. There’s a bit of variation with some subtle melodies here and there, but as far as the verses go, that’s about all the song has.


The chorus on the other hand, while a bit more minimalistic at first, does stand out a bit from the rest of the song. In its first iteration, it begins with a solo bassline and slowly adds new elements over time, a more complex drumbeat and a building melody that ebbs in and out as the chorus continues, transforming in tone so it flows connectedly into the original vibe from the verses. In the second iteration, it starts off with an arp instead of the bassline and the drumbeat disappears for the second half of the chorus as the song winds down towards its conclusion.


However, while lesser musically than surrounding songs, Amnesia still showcases the agent’s struggles well. As I’ve been mentioning for weeks now, the agent has been having a little bit of trouble recalling his memories. This has become especially important seeing as we’ve recently discovered the source of his amnesia, White’s mindwipe. This song does share some thematic tones with lament for Lost Dreams from the last album as the agent looks upon himself, knowing that his past has been broken and that he will never be the same again because of it. But he doesn’t lament for long. He instead looks ahead to tackle the future instead of dwelling in the past. In fact, this song does even less lamenting on the past. The agent has become more accepting of the fact that his past has gone. In fact, he seems intent on leaving it behind, making peace in the present so he can look to the future.


Mind.in.a.box – Into the Night (8.25): Ready for another information dump? Because our agent has stumbled his way back into the club he’d visited back in Dead End from the previous album. And boy does he have a lot of questions (he is having troubles remembering after all. We did just have a whole song about that). Unfortunately, as usual, we only get the agent’s side of the conversation. So really, this is just reiterating questions we’ve already had. On occasion, the agent gives a vague reaction to the questions, which allows some of information the agent has collected to slip through the cracks. But in usual Mind.in.a.box fashion, we just have more questions. Oh sure, they’ll all be answered eventually, but there’s always another secret to taunt us with.


But before I dive in too deeply into Mind.in.a.box lore, let’s talk a brief bit about the music. Into the Night bounces back between two vibes, one for the experience the agent has scoring for information about his recent experience, trying to find a path to take in the future as his direction has been lost since his severance with White. The other playing as the agent repeats his mantra depicting his emotional emptiness. For the former, the music actually takes a backseat, allowing the conversations to be displayed with very little distraction as the music drives forward subtly in the background. But for the latter, there’s plenty more Mind.in.a.box arps taking over the song. Some simple melodies, projecting a mysterious vibe as the mantra repeats.


There was nothing left to feel as the agent fell into the night. Cut off from his past, he felt cold and empty uncertain of where to begin with his new life. He’d originally resigned to the pain he was used to under White’s careful watch but now that he had been freed by the Sleepwalkers (Who are they?), he’s been healed, reborn into a new person, but a person unsure of where to go in his life.


So, he searches for answers. He revisits the club where he’d nearly caught Night before being overcome with visions of the Dreamweb, the reality invented by The Friend. The agent still isn’t quite sure what happened that night. He peers around the club searching for answers. He recognizes a man he’d seen before, though he’s unsure of the identity. He vaguely recalls a place known as the Pi, but he remembers nothing of it. He tries to figure out what band was playing that night when he’d nearly lost his mind, but he can’t recognize any of them. He is, however, introduced to the Sleepwalkers (previously mentioned on Introspection). He wonders who (or perhaps what) they are.


But the most mysterious blank in the agent’s mind is his name. He doesn’t know his name. And so he creates a new one. A new identity for his reborn self. To oppose his previous employer, the agent becomes his opposite.




His name is Black.


Mind.in.a.box – Identity (9.25): Identity is an enigma sometimes. Perhaps I’m just prone to overthink everything, but I find it nearly impossible to truly lock on to solid identity that defines who I am. Can I truly be defined by a simple list of characteristics? Is there really a core to myself that I can latch onto? That I can rely one and look to as a constant in my life? Am I being all too existential for my own good? Probably yes to that last one. But Black seems to have the same problem, the same desire to define himself. Admittedly, his loss of identity is a bit worse, as he can’t even remember his true name. I at least know that much.


Following the last two songs, Identity definitely has a more energetic powerful feel to it. Introspection comes close with its intense introduction throwing us directly into the story with Black’s interaction with Night and The Friend, but Identity has many more melodies and a bit more variation. Part of this is thanks to the vocals which span across several different moods. The calmer introspective verses, the more emotionally intense chorus (the last fourth reaching a higher octave in Black’s desire for identity), the monotone mantra following the chorus (I want to know who I am. The rest of the music is stellar too, great drum patterns and arps easing in and out with a nice variety of melodies (bassy or otherwise. Some good moments of ambience too, which can surprisingly be heard even with all the energy of the rest of the song that could distract from the calmer strings. But even the ambience Is prominent. Every single element of this song provides a great mixture of sounds to fill the ears, but the vocals are definitely the emotional heart of the song as they easily steal the spotlight from everything else.


But what good are vocals without fantastic lyrics to go along with them? Thankfully, this song has just that. Like I’d expressed at the beginning of this portion on Identity, this song focuses a lot on Black’s desire to find his identity. To figure out who he is and where he belongs in this world. His life had been empty and monotone before as he submitted to his fate as an agent of White’s. But now that he’s free, now that he can sever his ties, he spends this song striving to make something of himself. To figure out a new purpose for his new life. He will define his life as his own.


Mind.in.a.box – Lucid Dreams 1 (7.25): Why was I so afraid? Night was not afraid.


As a twenty second intermission, I’m not going to have much to say on this song. It’s twenty seconds of ambience and two sentences. Such short intermissions are a rarity in the Mind.in.a.box discography. There’s only two such short intermissions in this album (the second aptly named Lucid Dreams 2) as well as a couple on Broken Legacies. Each one has to do with Black’s fear as he faces the road ahead. He must overcome it if he’s to join Night and The Friend on the journey through the Dreamweb. On his journey to find his purpose. But for now, his fear still has a hold on him. Let’s talk about that fear, shall we?


Mind.in.a.box – Fear (8.25): Fittingly, the song called Fear begins in a rather creepy manner, with an ominous bassy ambience setting the mood so that the eerie melody and some rough distorted vocals can ease their way into the song. The verses in the song is where this slightly ominous underlying feel is most present. The tone of the vocals contributes the most to this feeling of dread. In the verses, the computerized vocals take on the lowest octave within its comfortable range (not that such distorted vocals couldn’t go any lower, but it wouldn’t be that intelligible if you continued down the path towards contrabass. Thankfully, the chorus takes the vocals an octave or so higher instead. And since an uplifting arp is also more prominent in these choruses, the emotions portrayed are a bit calmer, a bit less unsettling. This works quite well, as the entire purpose of the song is not about succumbing to fear but about how Black must overcome his fear.


Fear is an interesting emotion. Even though, I normally wouldn’t describe myself as a fearful person, it truly is fear that drives me in some ways. Mostly my fear of the expansive universe that will swallow up my mortal identity, but that really only bothers me on bad days. But even on the good days, that fear is still there, crouching in the corner of my soul, simultaneously fueling my productivity while also waiting for a chance to latch on to me, paralyzing me whenever I reach the lower points in my life. A huge theme of Mind.in.a.box is dealing with the darker more existential parts of the mind and finding a balance between confronting them without being overtaken by them. And what makes this one work so well is how it accepts that fear is sometimes a fact of life, while simultaneously sending out a message of overcoming it. Everyone’s afraid, but that’s no excuse.


Like displayed in that last intermission, fear has been haunting Black for a long while now. Across, all of the albums so far, Black has tormented himself trying to pick apart at the mysteries of his mind. And the more he discovers, the less he truly knows. The questions that had begun arising from the very beginning are increasingly prominent in his life as he transitions away from White’s control and has to face a band new future in which everything has changed. A change which he fears.


Mind.in.a.box – Stalkers (8.25): Stalkers is a song depicting a new group of within the Mind.in.a.box universe, the Sleepwalkers. They repeat a mantra in unison as they serve some unknown controller (I have my theories) and all the while, a solitary voice tries to escape their chase. The music accompanying this struggle is quite fitting to the themes of these Stalkers. Much of the song has a more monotone feel to it, with repetitive arps with small bits of variation driving the song forward. It isn’t until the last act of the song, that there are significant changes with a melody that breaks from the constant and slight change in tone of the arps that we begin to break away from the uniformity of the Stalkers. But who are these Stalkers I’ve been speaking of?


My initial impression was that this song was about the Sleepwalkers, but just because the name starts with an “S” and ends in an “Alkers” doesn’t necessarily mean the two groups are related. Quite the opposite actually. Looking at the details we can glean about this new group from the lyrics, the Stalkers are a group of people who have a collective mind. A solitary consciousness. And seeing as Night and the Friend, the suspected Sleepwalkers, have saved Black’s mind, it doesn’t quite add up to the mental slavery depicted in this song. Black, now freed from White’s mindwipe, has the chance to live a new life of his own, not one in which he’d become slave to the other side. No, the stalkers are not with the people who were running from Black as he and White chased them in search of the Dreamweb.


Or perhaps they weren’t just chasing the Sleepwalkers


Perhaps they were stalking them.


I could be wrong about the true identity of the controller of the Stalkers, but I think one thing that’s notable about this theory is the outro of the song. A solitary voice, Black’s voice, calls out repeating the Stalker mantra. It’s possible that this song serves as a Flashback to how Black begun serving White, but things have definitely changed since then. He’s no longer a component of the machine of White’s creation and now he can see the strings that has held him previously. Black is still in danger of the mindwipe. He must fight the machine in order to truly free himself, but his journey to freedom has only just begun.


Mind.in.a.box – What Used To Be (8.5): At first glance, What Used to Be seems to take on the exact same themes as Lament for Lost Dreams and Amnesia, but there’s a significant difference between those previous tracks and the track what we’re looking at today. The first two are about Black’s struggle to let go of the memories that have faded from his mind. This one however, focus on the memories he does remember. The memories he has of serving under White (perhaps as a Stalker). Letting go of the holes in one’s mind is one thing. Letting go of memories that continue to haunt one’s self is another story altogether.


I’ve chosen the longer version to review for this review. While searching for a Youtube playlist, I noticed that a lot of the less official ones use a Short Storm remix that’s only 4 minutes long rather than the full 7. This is a completely different version of the song though. I wouldn’t even consider to to be an oddly named radio edit as the whole vibe of the song is transformed into something a bit less interesting. I prefer the seven-minute version anyways. Longer is nearly always better in my book. Especially when the longer version includes a greater variety of the technological arps and basslines I know from Mind.in.a.box. I’m not sure if there’s anything that especially stands out in this song. It really meshes quite well with the rest of the album though so I’m glad this is the version included rather than the Short Storm version (It may sound like I hate Short Storm but it’s honestly not all that bad. It just doesn’t really sound like the technological perfection I’m used to from Mind.in.a.box)


Black must move on from what used to be. From the life he had while still employed by White. Now free from White’s control, Black reconsiders the Crossroads he’d faced in the past. The Crossroads he’d mindlessly followed White down. He looks at the paths he’s taken and regrets where he’s ended up. But like in Amnesia and Lament for Lost Dreams, Black must look towards the present and the future, while he can learn to the past, obsessively dwelling over his mistakes (as I am admittedly all too guilty of) will do him no good.


The Crossroads ahead are what matters.


Mind.in.a.box – The Place (7.25): The Place is definitely the most relaxing song on the album. I’m not certain if it tops that particular list for the entire discography. I believe the next canonical album, Revelations, has a fair amount of songs that fit a calmer mood as well. But as far as the first half of the Mind.in.a.box discography goes (Yes, we’re halfway through already. Though I might get distracted by a certain side project in a bit so I’m not certain when we’ll get to the next chapter) this one is the most relaxing.


The beauty begins immediately with the piano melody which serves as the bookends for this particular song. It’s quite a refreshing diversion from the typically hyper-technological vibe that the rest of the album has. While I personally prefer the more upbeat songs, the beautiful piano does intrigue me and it builds quite well to the main vocal section of the song as it distorts back into a more technological sound while accompanied by some synthesized strings. Overall, it makes for a powerful introduction to this slower more reflective song.


However, when the song returns to the more technological instruments, the beauty of the song unfortunately gets covered up a little bit. It’s still there and there’s a lot of instruments that work well with it, but then there’s that bassy lead. It shouldn’t be there. It’s distracting. Its melody seems almost completely random. It just doesn’t fit with this song. Ignoring that, this one of the less gritty songs on the album. Even the vocals are a bit cleaner than usual. They only have some slight touches of distortion that were unnoticeable on my first several listens).


As is the theme with this album, Black is still coming to peace with the memories he has lost. He does seem to have some familiarity with a certain undescribed place (Obviously we want to know where such a place is, but such information is currently still withheld from us). As he searches for peace in the little he has left in this world, he does his best to reflect over the things he has lost from the mind-wipe. He doesn’t mull over it for long though. He’s at a turning point in his life. He could linger on this undefined past of his or he could look forward to the equally undefined future. A future that will allow him to transform himself into a new person entirely different from the one who’d served White.


He shall redefine himself.


Mind.in.a.box – Redefined (10): Redefined is a masterpiece. I consider it to be the ultimate defining moment in the entire Mind.in.a.box discography. There are so many intricacies within this song that make it rise above the rest of the discography and above nearly every song I’ve ever heard. It is the best Mind.in.a.box song musically. It is the best Mind.in.a.box song lyrically. It is the best Mind.in.a.box song narratively. It is the best Mind.in.a.box song of all time.


Let’s start with the music. Every single moment in this song is fantastic musically. About a month ago, I’d mentioned all of the different musical aspects in Walking that I found to be fantastic. I had to use a bulletpoint list in order to cover all of the intricacies that made the song work. I think I’m going to have to do that again here…

  • Immediately following The Place (slowest song on the album) with this masterpiece (most energetic song on the album) only makes Redefined seem even more energetic and more powerful.
  • All of the main elements of this song are introduced and developed so seamlessly throughout the introduction of the song. The arp, drums, strings, ambiance, and bassline are all introduced in the first fifteen seconds of the song and it never feels like any of them are struggling for attention over the others. They smoothly ebb in and out with each other and build on each other throughout the first verse.
  • Speaking of the first verse, the song still continues to introduce subtle elements, a couple of small melodies and a second bassline. Not to mention the drumbeat that grows ever more intensive.
  • During the chorus, the song switches to half-time allowing for a more reflective feel (which matches the chorus’ lyrical content to a tee). The variety works great, giving a quick breather in the middle of the high energy verses and prechorus.
  • Even more striking is when the high tempo returns from the chorus. It’s especially noticeable after the first chorus as the snare in this portion has a great punch to it driving that energetic feel home.
  • There’s a couple of additional melodies introduced in the second verse of the song. The changes are subtle, but it still adds a new bit of variety. I find it fascinating how many small melodies there are in this song that could easily go unnoticed the first few listens.
  • The structure of this song is actually quite familiar, but I’ll get into that when I go over the narrative excellence.


When it comes to the lyrics, I’d say Redefined is the most inspiring song in the entire discography. Crossroads may narratively focus a lot on Black trying to move forward in his life despite his fractured memories, but it’s also about change and transformation. At several points in my life, I’ve found myself feeling lost. I’m unsure of where my past has led me. I’m unsure how to define myself in the present. I’m unsure of what paths I should take in the future to try and find a new self that I can be proud of. I’m always telling myself that I’m “at a turning point in my life,” but in reality, the person I am is constantly changing, constantly transforming, constantly redefining.


I’m rambling. I could talk forever about the existential paths I wander. My main point here is that any moment can be a time of change and transformation. Redefine yourself from who you used to be to the person you desire to be. That’s what Black is doing in this song.


Narratively, this song is a major turning point in Black’s journey. After mulling over his memories for the entirety of this album, he takes steps forward to free himself. But the fact that this song is a major turning point isn’t what fully interest me this time around. In order to truly see the genius of this song, we have to take a step back and look at the last album, specifically the song Machine Run. These two songs are intensely connected. For every lyric Machine Run has exploring Black’s anguish trapped within the cycle of working as a Stalker, Redefined tears it apart, redefining Black’s life now that he’s free.


No longer will he feed the machine that represents White’s hold on Black’s life or be on the constant run trying to find the Dreamweb. For now, he shall stand his ground and fight the machine that had once held him captive. No longer will he suffocate his dreams until his identity completely fades away. For now, he shall embrace the identity he has lost and instead let the machine fade away from his life.


No longer shall the endless cycles of routine overwhelm Black For now, he has found a brand-new beginning to start his life anew. No longer shall he feel that his life is going nowhere, that everything he does leads him back to where he started. For now, he shall look into the future and define himself by what he will become rather than what he’s been.


He is redefined.


Mind.in.a.box – Lucid Dreams 2 (7.5): There it was up ahead. And I was not afraid any more.


Another short ambient exploration into Black’s mind. What makes this interesting is how it shows Black’s development over the course of this album. 6 songs ago he found himself overcome with fear. He no longer questions his fear. For now, he is no longer afraid.


The Crossroads are up ahead…


Mind.in.a.box – Crossroads (8.25): Well, the crossroads aren’t up ahead any more. We have finally arrived. Now independent of White’s control, Black is free to make his own choices. The choices were always there, but until now, Black has been blind. He’s mindlessly pushed his way forward on the only path he’d seen before him, the path of a Stalker. But now that the Sleepwalkers have saved his mind, a whole new world has opened in front of him. He is now free to truly live rather than just survive. His mind is his own


Really tricky to review this one since I’m still fresh off of Redefined (Lucid Dreams 2 is more of a story element that a song). The lyrics are a bit more simplistic. They do represent the theme of the album well (I’d hope so. This is the titular track after all), allowing Black to face the choices in his life. To take on the new life he’s been granted by the Sleepwalkers. But there really isn’t that much left to go into as we’ve been talking about these Crossroads so much as they approached. This album represents a turning point. If Black is now free to choose, what path will he take?


The music in this one is pretty run of the mill for Mind.in.a.box. That’s not a bad thing as Mind.in.a.box is my favorite artist for a reason. But it does mean I don’t have much in particular to point out other than go through the Mind.in.a.box checklist. Good technological vibe with some layered arps? Check. Solid drumbeat and bassline driving through the song? Check. The occasional subtle melody giving a tiny bit of flavor to the song? Check (though it took some time for me to pick them out so maybe that’s part of the reason I find this song to be less remarkable). Distorted vocals that delve into the existential mysteries of the Mind.in.a.box universe? Check. It’s a Mind.in.a.box song and I don’t easily dislike a Mind.in.a.box song (Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever disliked a Mind.in.a.box song).


I think there may be a subtle reference to Machine Run with the guitar riff that appears in the background after the “How long since I cared” line, but compared to the parallels that song has with Redefined, this detail is pretty unremarkable. For all I know Poiss could just really like that bassline and has a tendency to implement it into many songs. Still, Poiss doesn’t seem like the kind of guy to do that sort of thing on accident. The questions Black asks himself here could be him questioning how much of himself he truly drained in order to feed the machine in the past. Perhaps there are several other similar references like this throughout the other songs and I’m only noticing the Machine Run riff because that’s so memorable.



Mind.in.a.box – Run for Your Life (7.5): And here we are at the album closer. There’s a bit of a cinematic vibe compared to the rest of the album. That ominous cinematic intro is likely the best part of the song as it sets a good tone. It eventually reaches a slightly more peaceful feeling at the end with a subtle choir, but almost immediately after, a glitch infested driving drumbeat takes over the song, leaving only short notes of the stringed variety as the only remnant of the orchestral origins this track had. From there on out, it doesn’t really have too much variety. But the darker tone does leave some suspense as the third chapter concludes and the fourth chapter resides somewhere in the future (though you could listen to the next chapter right now if you wanted. This album is a decade old).


The past two albums have closed with some good reflections on Black’s mind as he prepares for the next chapter of the story. This one is quite minimalistic as far as lyrics go though. All we know is that despite Black saying he no longer needs to run as of Redefined. Something is still chasing him. White hasn’t given up on Black yet. He beckons him to return. The struggle continues. Black may be on the path to peace, but he’s not there yet. He must continue forward into his future as he rediscovers himself and the reality that’s been hidden from him.


Conclusion: Crossroads was my first Mind.in.a.box album. Yeah, I started in the middle on chapter three so sue me. But even before I knew that there was deeply intricate cyberpunk story lurking in the shadows, I couldn’t help but enjoy this album. Redefined is definitely a big favorite of mine, getting a rare 10/10. And many of the other songs reach into that higher range as well. I think what I like most about this album is that it’s all about embracing change and reaching for a new beginning. A value that I’m constantly trying to implement into my own life. I feel like of the many Mind.in.a.box albums that have come to be so far, I connect to this one the most. And so, it rises above the rest.



Final Score: (8.25/10)

Daily Hat Track Roundup: January 2019

I’ve been posting these every day on Twitter for the past month so if you’re not following me yet, there’s a direct link in the menu if you simply scroll up. Or you could click on this one right here. Either will do. The wording of these short micro reviews may work better in a daily setting so this whole collection might seem a little disjointed but I’ll work on that tone a bit better as time progresses. Oh and at the bottom of this post I also have linked a playlist of all the 2019 Daily Hat Tracks so you can listen through that if you’d like.




If you’ve already been following me for the past month, then this isn’t going to be much new content for you, but it’s a nice recap of what I’ve been listening to as of late.


Daily Hat Track: January 1 (Donbor – Backward): Discovered Donbor today. Fantastic discovery. I’m a bit mixed on some of his albums, but this album in particular and this song in particular is outstanding. Love the guitar in the beginning and everything else that follows


Daily Hat Track: January 2 (DROELOE – Looking Back (Manu Dia remix)): This remix stole the spot for today’s track minutes ago. Loved the original lyrics about the internal struggles of adulthood and this remix with music box vibes and the other melodies that greatly improved upon DROLOE’s style.


Daily Hat Track: January 3 (Durs – Redemption): Couldn’t hold myself back from posting psytrance for too long, now could I? This one’s got some exceptional basslines to keep me in the groove. Had a lit of fun with it on loop this evening.


Daily Hat Track: January 4 (Moby – Like a Motherless Child (Broken Places Remix)): Spotify’s Release Radar made sure to deliver this captivating remix to me. Broken Places does a better job of matching the emotion of the song’s lyrics than Moby himself. At least, that’s my preference.


Daily Hat Track: January 5 (Andy Hunter & Christine Glass – Amazing): Didn’t really discover much new music today, but that’s not gonna stop me from posting something. How about a classic? Andy Hunter was my biggest introduction to EDM and this is my current favorite song of his hailing from 2002.


Daily Hat Track: January 6 (The Avener & Ane Brun – To Let Myself Go): Beautiful tracks with a good drive are one of my weaknesses. Here’s a recent discovery of mine from that category. Listen carefully to every single element and instrument as you listen to this one. Because each one is a small part of a masterpiece.


Daily Hat Track: January 7 (Comaduster – Far From Any Road): This ominous entrancing track definitely caught my attention today. The tone of the song has nice unsettling feel to it. And the lyrics are even more unsettling so if you’re into that (I am) then make sure to give it a listen!


Daily Hat Track: January 8 (Ashbury Heights – November Corrosion): Embrace the break of day with yesterday still in motion


This song is actually about pulling an all nighter due to existential crisis. I’m posting it now because I forgotten to post a track last night so yesterday is still now.


Daily Hat Track: January 9 (Ecepta & Azaleh – Shadow Truths): It’s way too late for me to still be up so here’s a chill vibes Daily Hat Track that I heard today. Let us all read and rest in the shadows.


Daily Hat Track: January 10 (Ehrling – Groove): The main reason I live Ehrling’s stuff is the saxophone. The saxophone is likely one of my favorite instruments in existence. If you’re unaware of my love for the saxophone, then your ignorance of my saxophone loving shall soon fade away.


Daily Hat Track: January 11 (Torul – Ausverkauft – Frozen Plasma remix): My favorite track from today’s Release Radar is the great Futurepop synthwave combo that is this Frozen Plasma remix. Haven’t delved into the lyrics quite yet but the vibe is great regardless.


Daily Hat Track: January 12 (Infected Mushroom – Bust a Move): Classic Infected Mushroom song and totally not a hint at what album I’m reviewing next.


Daily Hat Track: January 13 (Lemon Jelly – 64 aka Go): This song is a journey in two ways. Firstly, the theme is about embarking on a lengthy journey so that’s that. Secondly, the variety within the song (especially the guitar at the end) makes it a journey through sound.


BONUS THREAD (worth the read I promise): https://twitter.com/BeretBeats/status/1084941640366804993


Daily Hat Track: January 14 (Justice – Planisphere): I’m not certain why Spotify decided to put a nearly eighteen minute song in my Discovery Weekly, but it was still well worth the time to listen to every last bit of it.


Daily Hat Track: January 15 (The Other Colors & Marie Mööre – Pretty Day (Remix): Today’s weird enough already so let’s add some more weird to it with this trippy edgy track with the cutest lady singing about how pretty death is as everything around her descends into madness.


Daily Hat Track: January 16 (Eddie Bitar & Psycrain – Vertical Poetry): Who wants more psytrance? I’m always wanting more psytrance. Eddie Bitar is a recent discovery of mine. His collabs with Psycrain are his best and this is the best of those so this is the best Eddie Bitar.


Daily Hat Track: January 17 (Bjørn Torske – Clean Air): Yeah, I know it’s the 18th but this is the track I meant to post yesterday and I’m sorry for being so late on it. But I ain’t gonna get stressed I’m gonna take a step back and breathe the clean air that is this beautiful track.


Daily Hat Track January 18 (Sean Tyas – Chrome): This week’s Release Radar was mostly a flop. This is the only one that really stands out to me. It may just be trance with pseudo-inspiring lyrics at the beginning but it’s good trance with pseudo-inspiring lyrics at the beginning


Daily Hat Track: January 19 (Sesto Sento – Louder): It’s getting louder and louder and louder and louder. It’s getting LoUdEr and LoUdEr and LoUdeR and LoUdEr. It’s getting LOUDER and LOUDER and LOUDER and LOUDER


Daily Hat Track: January 20 (Ehrling – Tequila): Is it cheating to do to Ehrling tracks in one month? Because this one has an even more energetic upbeat melody (plus more sax, always more sax, the EP is called Sax Art and it is flawless).


Daily Hat Track: January 21 (Ghost – He is (HEALTH remix): Today’s track has a slight bit of edge and despair to it. An emotion that might ward off some listeners but I’m definitely into it. Though as you may see this Friday, I have limits to how much edge I can take…


Daily Hat Track: January 22 (Henry Saiz & Band – Downfall (Overture): Great song about finding beauty within the inevitable chaos of this world while also focusing on the similarities and differences between what we dream of and what we see in reality. Plus the music is just plain ol’ good


Daily Hat Track: January 23 (Ashbury Heights – Penance): Finishing up Friday’s review so I haven’t listened to much else. Here’s a sneak peak of the edgiest review yet! Not the best song on the album because I’m leaving the best for later but there’s some good existentialism in here.


Daily Hat Track: January 24 (Etherwood – In Stillness):  What a beautiful album opener. Such a gorgeous track about slowing down in life to finally find peace.


Daily Hat Track: January 25 (Neelix – Mosquito (Interactive Noise remix): It got really late this Friday. Here’s a new remix of one of Neelix’s more creative songs with synths made of mosquitoes. It’s not quite as good as the original (this one is less subtle and not as majestic) but both are worth checking out.


Daily Hat Track: January 26 (Yanni, Marc Russell, David Scheuer & Tinatin Japordize – What You Get): Today’s track comes from a brand new discovery of mine, Yanni. Dude has a massive discography but I’ve only just brushed the surface with these genius piano melodies and the surrounding almost cosmic environment.


Daily Hat Track: January 27 (Royalston – Oscilla): DnB songs are always good. Take this Royalston track for example. The melodies in the middle of the song really have a soothing feel to them, but the variety the rest of the track offers is pretty great too.


Daily Hat Track: January 28 (The Anix – Mask): It can be quite easy to hide behind a mask. I sometimes wonder if I’m hiding under a mask even from myself (nonsense I know). Well, The Anix tackles masks in this song. If we wear a mask, what truly hides behind in the shadows?


Daily Hat Track: January 29 (Sesto Sento – Musik Make U Feel (Live mix)): So basically I listened to a bunch of music that would be fun to party to. Except I was working at the time so not really a party. But feel that musik. This and Louder are great tracks for getting in that partyin mood


Daily Hat Track: January 30 (Mind.in.a.box – The Dream): I go a little bit overboard with this guy’s stuff when reviewing. The story is real dense here so here’s a sneak peak at tomorrow’s review. Fittingly I chose the song, The Dream from the album Dreamweb.


Daily Hat Track: January 31 (Pendulum – Propane Nightmares): Sorry if today’s tracks seem a bit lazier. I’m trying to do my best to match the tone of each day (if that makes sense). I listened to a lot of Pendulum today and while this track isn’t a new discovery, it definitely is a classic.




Mind.in.a.box – Dreamweb (2005 album)

Album links

Bandcamp: https://mind-in-a-box.bandcamp.com/album/dreamweb

Soundcloud: n/a

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/3wJLkm6XJEwfoGfN8a7To7?si=RDIKci-cR8mnFF8VnzWVAg

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_nsZvd85DCMrxWiwsIMpp-BPQO91jb4tFI




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Last time on Mind.in.a.box: An agent is tasked with following a hacker, hoping to eventually capture his target before the man teams up with a mysterious woman whose identity and purpose currently remain obscured from our knowledge. All the while, he contemplates his past, worrying about the memories that seem to have become hazy within his mind. And he worries that the future may be equally hazy, as change looms on the horizon. Conflict arises within his mind. Will he be able to embrace the change that seems inevitable? Will it crush him? Is there any possible way to avoid it? Can he prevent himself from falling into a world of chaos, trapped in a feeling of aloneness as the world grows ever more distant? A world in which he can no longer trust what is real?




For the hacker has escaped the agent’s clutches. He has found a way to the other side. He has entered an entirely different reality.


He has entered the Dreamweb.


And nothing will ever be the same again.


So the agent flees…


Mind.in.a.box – Tape Evidence (7.5): Hopefully, my recap isn’t too redundant, as Tape Evidence somewhat reviews past events as well. It’s not as clearly stated as the paragraph I typed up, but the recap definitely has a unique style that a paragraph can’t capture, even if it’s less thorough. Half of the albums in the Mind.in.a.box discography following Lost Alone start out with a reminder of where our agent currently finds himself on his mind-bending journey. There are a couple of exceptions (Revelations is too vague, R.E.T.R.O. isn’t canon, and Broken Legacies… well it’s best not to talk of Broken Legacies right now). I’m planning on giving my own little recap myself in future Mind.in.a.box reviews, giving a clearer outlook to where the story has left off. This song, for example, takes us to a room where the agent is currently staying. His sleep is suffering. His dreams haunt him. He hazily remembers the events of Lost Alone but his memory is proving hazier more and more as time goes on. There must be something wrong with his head. Natural deterioration? Or more? Who can he really trust?


And then he receives a mysterious package at the doorstep. The person who’d left it seems to have vanished without a trace, leaving only their evidence behind. The agent plays the tape, finding it filled with recordings of his calls to his employer as he lost the trace on the hacker that had disappeared that fateful evening…


Serving mostly as a recap of past events, this song doesn’t really add much new information to the story at hand. If anything, it only brings us more questions. What’s in the agent’s head? Why have his dreams begun to haunt him more and more? And who left the tape on his doorstep.


Well, regardless of the answers to these questions, I must admire the way this song integrates the world around our agent into the song. He doesn’t just tell narrate the events that happen to him. You can hear his emotional state in the music itself: the unsettling feeling as he describes his dreams, the thunder and pounding in his head as he cautiously approaches his door wondering who could possibly approach him at this hour. The mysterious arp and bassline that plays as he relistens to the tape depicting the events of the last album and questions begin to arise in his mind. The foley in the scene involving the tape (doorbell, door opening and closing, and inserting the tape into a player), also is a nice touch.


But most interestingly, I also enjoy the way that this song integrates past songs from Lost Alone within the song. There’s the line from Leave, “This is not what I wanted,” providing some continuity for the agent’s arc. And when the agent listens to the tape, you can here actual clips from Forever Gone depicting the agent’s panic as he loses the hacker. Interestingly, the song also features clips from Certainty, the next song on the album as a vocal sample during the first portion of the song and as the agent falls asleep with his headphones on. Speaking of the next song on the album…


Mind.in.a.box – Certainty (7.75): Certainty is a solid introduction into the more musical tracks of Mind.in.a.box. It’s certainly not the best song we’ve heard from him so far. Nor is it the best song on the album, but it doesn’t really have any weaknesses either. It has a slightly gritty technological vibe with a bassline made entirely of sixteenth notes and some simplistic melodies for texture. Most of all it has several different voices distorted to create reflect the conflict with in our protagonist’s mind


Certainty has left the agent. His world has begun to fall apart from the inside out. His questions have been burning within him for far too long and he has begun to wonder if they’ll ever be answered. He tries to find peace in his lack of knowledge, but the burning desire for his questions still remain. He no longer cares of anything else but certainty, but absolute certainty is unobtainable. And so, his world begins to shatter. He desperately clings to anything he can find in his life that he can hold trust in before his mind breaks from the pressure of the chaos. But if he can no longer trust his own mind, how can he trust anyone else?


I can somewhat relate. I’ve never had it quite as hard as this agent, but the unreachable desire for certainty has somewhat bothered me from time to time. In the past, I’ve felt like I need to figure out how exactly this world works, how to figure out my place in it and how to find that perfect state of peace. I’ve slowly begun to discover that I’m better off accepting that I’ll never fully know the answers and that it’s best if I take life as it comes to me instead of overwhelming myself for the perfect meaning of life. I’m not fully certain if perfection exists. Maybe that’s the point. I haven’t fully overcome this struggle. Sometimes I regress back into the plague of trying to find out exactly where I belong. But it’s never permanent. It’s important to remember that there will always be days in the future when one is certain enough in themselves that they don’t need to unravel the exact nature of the universe.


Then again, that might be most days for some people. I’ve brought this struggle upon myself.


Mind.in.a.box – Lament for Lost Dreams (9): This is the first song to directly confront the agent’s memory loss. It was hinted at in Falling from the last album, but that was a bit more vague. Lament for Lost Dreams goes a bit more into detail, expanding not only on the memory loss introduced in Falling but also of the dreams that seem to be plaguing the agent more and more as this album progresses (It is called Dreamweb after all). As much as the agent tries to recall the memories of his past, it remains hidden, obscuring the path he’d taken. It leaves a deep hole in his identity and he doesn’t quite feel like himself as he is no longer certain that he is his true self. But what I love most about this song is that he doesn’t let it destroy him. Oh, sure he definitely despairs for some time. Having a haunted past that leaves you uncertain of who you are isn’t exactly a pleasant experience. But he doesn’t let his past (or lack thereof) consume him. Instead he looks to the future, for there are choices, crossroads up ahead that he must face. And if he’s continually consumed by his past, he might not have the clarity of mind to make the right decision… if there is one…


This song definitely stands out in its verses. I know it’s not much but focusing on a solitary bassline (though it has drums and a synth in the second verse but they’re so subtle I didn’t even notice the first time) as the agent attempts to confront his past definitely allows some true focus on the torment and resignation in the agent’s mind. And the simplistic experience doubles up it’s purpose by allowing the arp filled chorus to stand out, both by giving a slight bit of variety to the music as well as solid driving drumbeat to demonstrate how the agent tackles the path ahead of him. He walks forward, leaving the effigy of who we was behind.


All that matters are the crossroads ahead.


Mind.in.a.box – Machine Run (9): Machine Run is certainly the most memorable track from the album and therefore I find it to be one of the best. Part of this comes from its unique feeling from the rest of the songs to the album. Instead of just devoting itself to a purely technological vibe. Machine Run goes ahead and brings some rock influence into the mix right at the beginning with a heavy hitting guitar intro. The rest of the song has a fantastic feeling to it too. The sheer variety that we see in this track is phenomenal. Their song continually flips back and forth between the grittier rock vibe (where the agent stares ahead at the routine to which he’s committed himself) and the slightly calmer arpeggio forced portions with cleaner vocals (focusing on his desire to escape the routine as he contemplates the futility of what this routine will do to him).


Yeah, I summarized those lyrics up pretty well while describing the two different vibes that this album gives us, but that’s no reason to stop there. The agent is beginning to take a step back and look at the situation he’s found himself in: working with a mysterious employer to find a mysterious man while his memories escape him entirely. He attempts to suffocate his nightmares by fully dedicating himself to his work, but what if, he suffocates his own individuality in the process. Is it truly better to ignore the thoughts that plague him, letting them fester inside as he distracts himself? To dampen his emotions as he chases unreachable peace?


Well, by my tone, it’s pretty clear that my opinion is no, but at this point in his life, it’s seems to be difficult for the agent to see what path he must choose. Yes, he could face his nightmares head on, regardless of how disturbing he might find the blurry images of his past, but he doesn’t seem to be at a point in his life where he feels he can face them. He’ll have to eventually. Without doing so he’ll never be able to redefine himself. Waiting any longer will extend his suffering, but for now he waits.


For now, he runs.


Mind.in.a.box – Loyalty (6.5):  This song serves as a partner to You Will See from the last album, so it also runs the risk of going down the bad path of focusing on the bad aspects of love. And if you read last Ashbury Heights review, you can tell that this could be a big problem as I’m kind of sick of the concept. Of course, the relationship in Mind.in.a.box is much healthier than the ones depicted in Ashbury Heights’ debut. Then again, that’s not saying much.


This one doesn’t do quite as well as You Will See. Where You Will See was about overcoming the fallout of a relationship, Loyalty is about looking back on the relationship and putting all of the blame on the other party, which is an unhealthy way of moving on. Better than not moving on at all, but there’s no learning experience here. No strive for possible change. Instead, here’s focus on how the agent used to receive joy from the relationship, but now that his love has broken his heart, he has fallen lower than ever. The holes in his mind grow more painful every passing day.


Perhaps, I’m being too harsh. Giving the agent the benefit of the doubt perhaps his love had truly been problematic and he’s only just now realizing the flaws in their past relationship. The trust he had has evaporate and now he must move on. Credit where credit is due, there is a hint of determination in the second verse in which he determines that he won’t let the tragedy that has occurred destroy him. He will move on and look forward to overcoming his struggles. This is admirable, but it’s not done nearly as well as in You Will See.


Unfortunately, the music is rather bland too. There’s a simple bassline and arp, but they don’t do much of interest. The melody at the end is even more unremarkable. Probably the blandest melody I’ve heard in a while. There’s a portion with the guitar that’s pretty good, but it’s not enough to save the song (and pales in comparison to Machine Run). Overall, it might be over average as far as ratings go, but that’s pretty under average for the expectations I have of Mind.in.a.box


Mind.in.a.box – Sun & Storm (7.75): After the slower more plodding (Ignore the fact that the first line in this song has that very adjective in it) feel of Loyalty, the more upbeat tone of Sun & Storm is very well received. The technological drive I love from Mind.ina.box has returned. The bass and arp join forces in this one, forming on single entity. It works better than you’d think. Leaves some nice room for the ominous stabs as that occur every four beats as well as some more beautiful melodies that provide an interesting contrast to the rest of the song (which I find to be much harsher). The last third of every verse also features a piano which is absolutely lovely. And there’s also a synth that’s really just a highly distorted iteration of the chorus which I think is absolutely masterful.


As for the lyrics, Sun & Storm continues the development of the agent’s lost memories. Or more accurately, he abandons those memories and reaches forward into the future. A sequel to Lament of Lost Dreams if you will. Unfortunately for him, his struggles aren’t over as soon as he casts aside these tortuous dreams. The world still begins to collapse around him as he continues down the path for a future of freedom. His will begins to shatter as everything changes around him. Pleasure is now pain. Those he knew are spiteful to him for some reason. He can’t seem to escape his past as easily as he’d originally thought. Wherever he goes, it’s there lurking in the back of his mind. Whatever he does, it’s hiding in the shadows of his subconscious. His struggles haven’t fully disappeared. Perhaps they never will. They’ll always be there, but without working to overcome it, he will resign to suffering.


An interesting side note in the second verse as there appears to be some new information here regarding a person who’d originally came into the agent’s life providing a small sense of security of the chaos. But something went wrong. They fell to the darkness. The agent still stayed but suffered because of it.


It’s very well possible that the person in question could be the lost love… but I have the sneaking suspicion it’s someone else the agent knows…


Mind.in.a.box – Out of Time (8.25): This song isn’t too particularly musically interesting, or more accurately, the lyrics are so interesting I don’t want to spend much time with the music because there just isn’t enough to say in comparison. It’s got your general Mind.in.a.box vibe with a heavy focus on layers upon layers of arps organized in a fashion that gives off a technological environment. But that’s enough of that. This song has a story to tell.


The state of being out of time is quite a mind-bending concept. As simple as it sounds on the surface, time has always been a constant force in our lives. And if we were to slip out from under time’s grasp, then could we even comprehend what we’ve found beyond? With such a strange concept, this ends up being one of the more mysterious songs on the album. It took me a few listens before I made a breakthrough on what this song represents within the story, but it honestly should have been obvious from the get-go.


Out of Time is a sequel to Forever Gone.


When we last left off in Forever Gone, the agent had found our hacker sprawled out on the floor. He and his employer suspected the man had crossed to the other side, into The Dreamweb itself. The hacker has broken his mind down into code, allowing him to live in his impossible virtual world of the Dreamweb, claimed to be forever gone. Gone into a world that cannot be found.


And now, as the agent continues to ponder the events of that evening. As he questions where the hacker has gone and how the Dreamweb works, perhaps wishing to escape himself, we can still hear the voice of the hacker speaking through the Dreamweb. The Dreamweb is out of time. It’s where our hacker resides out of reach of the agent and his employer but it’s as much of a prison as an escape. One can’t help but notice that he’s lost alone in this new prison of his. The Dreamweb isn’t quite easy to navigate as the hacker had planned. He’d likely entered in haphazardly when he realized that he was being traced in the last album.


Of course, it’s also very well possible that the “he” in this song is the agent himself. That the hacker is speaking through the Dreamweb about an inevitably. Perhaps the agent himself will enter the Dreamweb in due time…


Mind.in.a.box – Dead End (9.25): our agent has been watching for this mysterious woman for a while now. She was last seen speaking to the hacker months ago and now the agent and his employer have found a lead that she’ll be at this club this evening. Who is the informant? We don’t know yet. Check back later. But that doesn’t matter, for as the agent continues observing the people entering the club, he begins to realize that they’re beyond the time that the informant said she’d be here.


So he goes in.


In a hectic fury, the agent pushes his way into the club, desperate to find this woman. Following the events of Forever Gone, she has become the only lead on what could have possibly happened to the hacker and she may just be the key to figuring out how the employer can find a way into the Dreamweb to apprehend the man. The agent keeps his mind clear and his focus straight. Nothing matters but the target. Nothing matters but capturing her and bringing her in. Nothing matters except the music…


The music?


A chaotic drumbeat begins to seep away at his mind. He tries to break away. He has to find her. She is the only thing that matters right now to the mission. She’s the only lead. But the music? A bassline roars into his mind. It overwhelms his thoughts. A constant distraction from his goal. His goal. His goal is right there. He can see his target in front of him right within his grasp. He approaches her but cannot reach her. He cannot reach past the music. The music? Arpeggiated progressions flow into his mind. Reality begins to distort around him. He begins to see visions of another place, another realm? An endless corridor reaching up into the sky. Rain falls down on his face despite the fact that he’s indoors. Where is she? The lead? There’s no one there. There’s nothing there. The music overwhelms our agent…


He blacks out.


Mind.in.a.box – The Dream (7.75): I don’t know if you’ve caught onto this by now, but dreams play a big role in this chapter of the Mind.in.a.box story (The title of the album is Dreamweb after all). After seeing the hacker escape into a dream of his own, the agent has found that his own dreams have begun to haunt him. Especially after the events of the last song. All of this comes to a head in this song, The Dream.


The song definitely has a great eerie vibe at the beginning. Only introducing slight elements. One simple melody echoing from the shadows. One ominous bassline creeping in from the shadows. And a simple three kicks with the occasional snare slowly echoing through the night providing a nice plodding feel to the song. Here, the agent reflects on his current state of mind. His dreams have haunted him to the point where he can no longer tell if the few memories that remain are real.


And then a voice invades his mind: “You fell asleep and now you’re mine… Just let go and embrace your dream…” The agent’s supposed mental deterioration isn’t natural. It’s the cause of someone who seems to have infected the man’s mind. Someone who claims to have taken control of the agent’s dreams. Someone who has been tormenting the agent for some time now, manipulating reality before his very eyes. The agent pleas in response to this voice, desperate for he has been broken by these dreams. He no longer knows who he is.


The song begins to develop from this point onwards, adding in some arps and quickening the drumbeat to new levels as the agent continues to converse with the voice in his head, but when the beat takes on a full four-on-the-floor pattern, the voice in the agent’s head takes over the song completely. The mysterious voice gloats on how much the agent’s world has been distorted. Anything he had before his mind had been invaded has since disappeared. He finds himself lost in a confusing world in which he can trust no one, not even his own mind. His past has been taken away from him and so it must be left behind.


The agent responds as the song gives more focus on the arps. As the voice says, the agent is surely lost. He may have found his place in the present for now, but something about this life he’s living feels wrong. Almost as if the missing past and the present don’t match up. The agent had wallowed in his pain in the past as he’d wandered the streets of life, searching for a place for his mind to call home. But now, when faced with the dream that has been residing in the back of his mind, he gives in to the voice. He embraces the dream instead of the reality before him.


But whose to say the dream isn’t reality as well?


Mind.in.a.box – Reflections (8.75): The story of the agent’s search for the hacker and his Dreamweb (along with the search for his own identity) has gotten quite complicated as of late. The agent’s thoughts and dreams have been scattered across this album in a seemingly orderly pattern, but in reality, we’ve been viewing this chapter in the Mind.in.a.box story nonchronologically. We may have started this chapter at Tape Evidence, but we should really perhaps it would be best to take a step back and observe the events that led up to Dead End and the aftermath of the hallucinations and dreams that overtook him that evening. We’ll need to go deeply into the story presented so far in this album in order to make sense of the narrative. Something that this song does quite well. But before we dive into the bigger picture, we’ll have to start at the beginning…


Following the disappearance of the hacker, it has taken nine months to finally find a lead on how he switched over into the Dreamweb. The woman who’d he’d spoken to that evening of his disappearance is the only possible lead that they have. It’s only when the agent’s employer (who from now on shall be referred to as White as he has finally been named) finds an informant that knows of the woman’s location that they’re able to finally make some headway.


Queue the events of Dead End.  The agent sets up his position outside the club late evening on October 22. And after haphazardly entering the club, he experiences a song like no other. A song that digs into his brain making him envision another world before stealing his consciousness away from him. He awakens in a gutter early morning, disconnected from his employer and his mind succumbing to a state of eternal confusion. It is then that the dreams begin to truly infect his mind. All thanks to the music at the club.


Thankfully, despite being disconnected from his employer, he finds White shortly after awakening. Not only do we get a name reveal (technically a codename but it’s still significant) from the employer, he makes a physical appearance as well, an unusual event according to the agent. Further piquing my interest is the tape the agent is given. This slightly mirrors Tape Evidence, though it should be noted that this is a different tape. Unless of course one method of receiving the tape only occurred in his imagination. It’s not like his mind is the most trustworthy at the moment.


Well, if it is a different tape, then one must wonder what’s on this one. Furthermore, one must wonder exactly who this person in the club was, the informant from earlier perhaps (can he be trusted?).  A thought crosses my mind though it might not have crossed the agent’s yet. Was the club perhaps a trap?  Could the informant possibly be allied with the hacker and the agent’s female target? Was the music at the club specifically played in order for these people to get into the agent’s dreams? Of course, that goes under the assumption that the dreams are coming from the hacker’s allies. They could be very well be coming from another party… I believe it would likely have to be someone who knows a thing or two about the Dreamweb as the dreams are likely connected to the reality the hacker had escaped into.


As the dreams continue to plague him, the agent returns to his home, exhausted from the life changing events that had occurred last evening. He tries to fall asleep, but the music is still there, pulsing in the back of his mind. He can feel them in his head. Interestingly, at this point in the song, it isn’t the ominous pulsing bass from Dead End that is playing in his head, but the guitar from Machine Run perhaps this is the point in time that the agent introspects on the endless routine that he finds himself trapped in. Should he escape it or succumb to it? Impossible to tell at this point.


As the song ends the agent finally falls into a deep sleep. Perhaps when he wakes up, there will be a tape on his doorstep…


Mind.in.a.box – Between Worlds (7.5): Not really too much to say about this track musically, I haven’t perhaps doing the best at paying attention not the instrumental parts in this album, most because of how story-heavy it is. There’s simply not enough time to do so. This one does have a few good melodies here and there, but I don’t think any of it is significant enough to step away from talking about the narrative.


The agent’s exhaustion continues as we approach the end of this chapter with this penultimate song. Now that Reflections has caught us all up on the events of October 22-23, it’s time to explore further where this leaves the agent as he’s begun to accept his dream (see two tracks ago in The Dream), he’s found himself suspended between two worlds. The reality he’s lived in for his entire life, and the Dreamweb of the hacker’s own invention. And both worlds are changing constantly, shifting the agent’s perspective as he struggles to find a place that feels right despite the wholes in his memories (Has his mind been wiped?).


As the agent frantically searches his mind, trying to figure out what went wrong to lead his to this predicament, he finds himself suspended between two worlds. Will he have to choose his place between the two worlds to finally find peace?


It seems he is at a Crossroads


Mind.in.a.box – Escape (7.75): While the dreams of our agent have remained central to the conflict of this chapter, there is another underlying conflict burning in the background. And as the last few songs have begun to wrap up the conflict with his haunting dreams (though permanent resolution is still distant), we can take a closer focus on another struggle the agent has been having. Shall he stay where he is, committed to the routine of his life working with White to seek out the hacker in the Dreamweb? Or shall he try to break free from the machine he’s been running for? Is it time to run from the machine itself?


The agent has a burning desire to reach out for a greater meaning. He’s felt lost in this city for far too long and still hasn’t found a place to rest his mind. A place where he can finally feel comfortable as the person he is. A place where he can find the person he is. He desires an escape from the rain that he’s envision falling from the sky ever since he’d heard that music in the club. The music that’s been plaguing his mind ever since. If only he could find a place where he can find peace…


But instead, he finds himself trapped in his routine. He merely follows White’s orders as they attempt to track the hacker and his Dreamweb. But as the chase drags on and becomes more and more complicated, more and more taxing, the agent has found himself sacrificing his own self, his own identity. Perhaps that is why he’s begun losing his memories. I’m not saying that his memories naturally disappeared due to this overtaxing endeavor. If the hacker can escape into an alternate reality such as the Dreamweb, then it’s not out of the question that one could pick and choose which memories to keep, and which ones to remove. What if the agent could choose to remove those memories? What if there was a way to manually extract any distracting thoughts of the past, allowing the agent to concentrate solely on his present mission? What memories could have haunted him to the point where he had to choose to remove them in order to focus on his mission?


Of course, who’s to say the agent was the one to make that choice…


To be continued…


Conclusion: I wasn’t able to go as in depth with the music in this album as I had in Lost Alone as the narrative really took up a large percentage of the review. Overall, I’d say this album was better than Lost Alone as far as music goes. Very few of the songs on Lost Alone stood out with their music (Walking is an exception). Here, however, several of the songs have a unique feeling to them as Mind.in.a.box hones his craft. I was able to sneak little bits and pieces in there as there are some points where the music is outstanding like in Machine Run, or absolutely integral to the story like in Dead End. But in the end, the narrative really overtook this review quickly as the agent chased the people involved with the Dreamweb as well as the truth in his own mind.


Speaking of the narrative, Dreamweb definitely kicks the storytelling up several notches above Lost Alone. The plot thickens greatly as the agent finds himself torn in several different directions. He’s torn between his past and his present as his lack of memory leaves him unsure of who he really is. He’s torn between different realities as he begins to have visions following his experience at the club in Dead End. He’s torn between the choice between sticking to the routine he knows, or breaking free from it, abandoning the little he knows in this world for the chance of finding peace.


He finds himself at a Crossroads. He must make a choice.


Final Score: (8/10)

Mind.in.a.box – Lost Alone (2004 album)

Album Links:

Bandcamp: https://mind-in-a-box.bandcamp.com/album/lost-alone

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/mindinabox/sets/lost-alone-1

Spotify: n/a

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_mB4hmJLL7W2VacrUEK1r0CPMpi2MjKF9Y



Introduction: Mind.in.a.box is truly an underrated mastermind of an artist. Obviously, I consider him to be one of my favorites, as that’s the reason I’m stepping into his discography for the occasional review. But the man (named Stefan Poiss by the way) has a knack for immersing me into a world full of cyberpunk noir and technological existentialism. You see, each of the albums in Mind.in.a.box’s discography (sans R.E.T.R.O. but I’ll talk of that one another time), are merely chapters in a story focusing in on a currently unnamed agent and his interactions with his employer as he tracks a mysterious hacker in a world where the minds. Or at least, that’s what the first album is about. The world expands and grows more complicated as time goes on and I plan on revealing more and more about this world as I analyze each chapter of the story (though not all at once, I don’t plan on necessarily rushing through this discography. It could take a few months or so to finish it). I’ll be frank with you, as much as I’ve listened to Mind.in.a.box, I’m not really fully an expert on the full story but I have a rough idea of it all. Still, don’t take my theories and analysis as 100% fact (I mean, it’s a fictional story so none of it is factual by default). Feel free to ponder this guy’s stuff on your own.


Mind.in.a.box – Light and Dark (8.25): Light and Dark is our debut song for Mind.in.a.box so it has a lot sitting on it to pull us into the world. And while it is very minimalistic in the lyrics department, the overall tone is still a good introduction for the album. The arps and the drumbeat highlighted in both the beginning and end of the song make for a great technological drive along with the heavily distorted vocals (you’ll be hearing a lot of these). However, it’s the middle of the song, starting at about 1:40 that I really want to highlight. Here, the beat may have been taken out for a bit, but the bassline keeps the drive going and every other aspect of the song, from the swaying pads to the continued arps to the simple melody rising and falling with the rest of the song.


And It’s also here where we’re introduced to the main lyrical chorus of the song. Before I get into the lyrics (you’ll soon discover, I really love getting into lyrics), I’d like to comment on these two voices you hear in the song. The first you hear is a computerized female voice, which makes up a good chunk of the vocals throughout Mind.in.a.box’s discography. The second is a deeper throaty voice, which I believe are sung by our main character of the story (for now), the agent I mentioned in the introduction (though there are some songs with the first voice that work well with the agent’s story as well. Like I said, I’m not a full expert. I just enjoy the music). Also, just a fun little note. Stefan does all of the vocals himself. He’s just really good at vocal distortion


I feel sad, so left alone. Words are not enough for me to live on. These are the lyrics of light and dark and while they may notreveal much about the story, my enjoyment of these vocals do reveal a bit about myself. I’m no stranger to feeling depressed and isolated. My mind just seems to default to that mood. Trust me, we’ll get into all the existential ramifications my mind likes to ponder on more as we progress. It’s an inevitability I hinted at in my last review and the odds of such feelings bleeding out in this review are quite high. For now, let’s just sum up the fact I can relate to this song and leave it at that. There’s much more to get into.


Mind.in.a.box – Change (7.5): See, I’m all about change. I spend a lot of my life trying to change and improve myself into a better person than I was yesterday. The transformative development of all people is kind of one of my core values. So, obviously, I would enjoy a song titled Change. Well… Not necessarily. This is quite early on in the story so while change becomes important later on. This song is about the paradoxical desire and denial of change. Gotta be honest, I’m slightly conflicted.


Well, while I think it over, let’s take a quick look at the music of the song. While I still enjoy the Mind.in.a.box vibe, I don’t feel the music in this one stands out as much as in the last song. There’s a good solid syncopated drumbeat in the verses and some nice stabs here and there, but it never really immerses me like Light & Dark or some of the songs later into Mind.in.a.box’s discography. The music in the chorus isn’t quite as interesting to be honest: just a 4 on 4 drumbeat and some chords. The song does develop as it goes on so some arps get involved the second time around, but still, Mind.in.a.box can do so much better.


Alright, so the main issue with the lyrics of change is the paradox of desire and denial. Repeatedly, the speaker of this song desires change. There’s a great fear and loneliness expressed throughout the song. Yes, they desire change in their life, but I think the important part is that they refuse to change themselves but instead wait for someone else to change the core of who they are. They wait for life to get better instead of putting the effort forth to change themselves. And I’ll admit that this is an easy mindset to slip into. I’ve gotten into points in my life where I desire to improve but feel stuck and instead wait for life to change around me as I go through the actions. But in the end, I’ve found that it’s only when I take action for myself that change can occur.


As for the narrative itself, well this is more of a setup for the changes that the agent will find himself going through as the story progresses. An establishment of the theme. The agent can’t deny change forever. It will happen.


Mind.in.a.box – Falling (7.25): The next song on the album returns to playing form the agent’s perspective with the throatier vocals. Here we get into the existential pondering of the agent as he questions his purpose (oh boy, that sounds familiar to me). This song has a bit more of a drive than the last one with a more prominent bassline and a good fast-paced melody. The sound of this song overall is a bit lesser than many of the other songs on the album, but it still does work and it does have some good points to it. The deep breath taken by the agent at about 2:20 is a great touch that slipped by my ears the first couple listens, but now that I’ve heard it, that one breath will not go unappreciated any longer.


The lyrics in this song, while introspective, really just begin setting the scene of the situation for our main character. He feels as if he’s been falling into the cold night. Like I said, he’s a bit existential here, wondering where he is and why he’s there. Most importantly, he seems to have lost his memories This will come up later.


We’re barely scratching the surface here, so I don’t have too much to say specifically. We’ll go more in depth to the emotions of the agent as the discography progresses.


Mind.in.a.box – You Will See (7.75): One of the more surprisingly funky songs on the album. The bassline has a bit more of a bounce than I’d normally expect from Mind.in.a.box. But the funk doesn’t really interrupt the technological vibe that attracts me to Mind.in.a.box. Just gives the song a unique feel compared to the rest of the album. In fact there’s some points in this song (like the last minute or so) that have a more upbeat technological feel than usual. That last minute is actually my favorite part of the song. I get some nostalgic feels from it as it reminds me a tiny bit of one of my very first favorite artists (I’ll review Andy Hunter another time. He’s not a priority at the moment).


As for the lyrics, this song delves into the few memories that the agent does have. Thankfully, they’re not all erased fully. Unfortunately, they seem to focus on a past love of the agent. The whole past love thing does come up in the story from time to time and I’ll admit it’s probably my least favorite element of the story, but there’s a possibility I’ve simply overlooked it. That’s mostly because my attraction to the existential overshadows any hint of love. Love songs don’t really capture my attention and break-up songs especially are a bit lower on my list of enjoyed musical topics.


And yet… this one works. I’m not sure if I’ve ever heard this before elsewhere (probably exists, but I either haven’t heard it, or was simply oblivious). Black doesn’t bash his former love (well maybe a little, near the end but that’s not the focus). He acknowledges that the time he spent in that relationship was a pleasant one, regardless of how disastrous it ended up in the end (apparently due to misuse of trust). Black has fallen far from this relationship, but it’s important to note that he doesn’t drown himself in sorrow either. You Will See is about rising up and overcoming the pain. He will climb up to the heights of glory he felt so long ago. He won’t let the despair consume him. It does sounds lightly out of spite that he aims to put his life back together, but there’s still a tone to it that’s oddly inspiring.


Mind.in.a.box – Questions (7.75) : Ah yes. The neverending onslaught of questions. This one’s a bit vague as far as the story goes, but it’s still important thematically. True to its title, this song is about the existential questions that constantly plague the mind of the agent. He fills the song with violent metaphors of his relationship with these questions. He can’t fully escape them. He can’t fully get rid of them. But worst of all, he can’t fully answer them. His mind will continually wander among the existential pondering of reality regardless of how it pains him. And it will continue until the day he dies. Yeah, this one’s a bit more desperate than the last few. I mean Mind.in.a.box has already proven to be somewhat of an edgy existential concept so far, but this song really delves into the almost nihilistic view of these never-ending questions. I find myself occasionally falling into the same mindset as the agent here (you may notice that I relate the agent in a lot of ways. That may have to do with why I enjoy Mind.in.a.box so much). I can get out of it occasionally, but it’s not an easy feat.


Almost forgot to talk about the music for this one. I feel like it’s a bit lesser than the rest of the album so far. Its edge matches the edge of the song’s lyrics. It’s almost a bit too much. This is particularly noticeable in the first minute of the song with the bassline. It’s not too bad. But it does take a little bit of time to grow on me. The song is a lot better during the more arpeggio focused section. Still, whatever part of the song I listen to, I’ve gotta admit it’s got a fantastic drive to it.


Mind.in.a.box – Waiting (8.25): Waiting is the first full-on storytelling song in the album.  Yes, the rest of the songs introduced elements of who the agent is and the themes of this world. But this is the biggest trove of information we’ve had so far. There’s at least two of these each album, most of them focusing on the agent’s conversations with the other characters, though a few of the more recent songs in the discography focus more on reflections of past events or viewpoints from other characters (though those don’t happen until Crossroads and Memories, respectively.


(Just want to make a not before I forget, every single instrument as varied as they are from the guitar to the piano to the bassline to the arp, all blend together so well. Yeah, the focus of this song is more about the story than the music but the music is so outstanding I had to mention it. Ok. Back to the story now).


In this chapter of Mind.in.a.box’s story, the agent communicates with his employer about a hacker they’ve attached a trace to. For the moment all seems well. The hacker is unaware of the trace and doesn’t appear to notice the agent observing him. He appears to be looking for a mysterious woman that goes unnamed so far. The agent recommends taking the man out now, but it seems his employer recommends to stay according to the plan in place. He won’t be able to escape…


Of course, every chapter of Mind.in.a.box’s story raises more questions than answers. We’re now introduced to most of our main cast although one of them is simply silent on the other end of the phone. Still, the employer’s silence speaks volumes of unanswered questions. What is the significance of these two people the agent is watching? Are they working together and if so, why does the woman not recognize him (yet)? What exactly is it that the agent and his employer worry that this hacker might be able to do? And what will they do once the agent is able to corner the hacker? All of these questions will be answered. Though perhaps some of them will wait until another album. For now, let’s enter into the second half of Lost Alone.


Mind.in.a.box – Lost Alone (7.5): And so, we’re here at the titular track of this album, Lost Alone. New vocal style here. I’m not certain if this one appears as much as the other two we’ve heard so far. I’m not a huge fan of the final result. My guess, and this guess is reaching, is that this could actually be coming from the Hacker from earlier. Or maybe I’m overthinking this and it’s just that Stefan, like me, decided that this vocal style was too difficult to understand with its crushed distorted style (If he didn’t put all the lyrics on his site, I’d have a hard time reviewing it).  Either way, it appears that someone is reaching out to the agent, telling him that he’s not alone in feeling lost alone.


It’s honestly rather encouraging to hear this song. Feeling lost alone results in some excruciating emotions in my experience. That may be why I enjoy listening to music that focuses on such concepts. I find comfort in the knowledge that someone else has a similar experience to my own. It makes feel less… well… alone. No one is truly alone. There is always someone out there that can sympathize. They might not be immediately present, and it might not be easy to find them, but they are there.


Mind.in.a.box – Walking (9.5): Yeah, I could definitely see myself walking to this song… or running … or maybe a happy medium between the two with some odd kind of powerwalk. Speaking of happy mediums, I find these vocals to be a happy medium between the two distorted vocals we’ve seen so far in this album: the more feminine style of Change and the overly crushed style of Lost Alone. And it seems that that list boost of flavor from change is exactly what the vocals from Lost Alone needed, because I absolutely love these vocals. Unfortunately, these vocals aren’t as common in the Mind.in.a.box discography as the other two styles we’ve seen so far (not counting Lost Alone). It does appear from time to time, but I can only think of two songs that use it off the top of my head and neither of them are as good as Walking, which I personally consider to be the iconic song from this album.


So, what is it about Walking I love so much? Pretty much everything! I’ve said I could definitely powerwalk to this so that makes it clear that there’s a good drive to it. The melodies and textures in this song are the most outstanding on the album. I always prefer to highlight a couple of moments that I find particularly enjoyable, but it’s really hard to in this case, because all of it is fantastic. But let me give you bullet point list of all of it because I need to share how amazing it is.


  • I believe that little subtle melody right there at the 50 second mark is responsible for much of the vibe this song has.
  • There’s a high-pitched short melody that appears once and only once at one and half minutes in, but that moment is one of the best parts of the song.
  • The chorus in the middle of the song that starts at 1:54 has some fantastic ambiance to it with both the chords and the echoing drumbeat that fades in and out. Absolutely captivating. The fact that the chorus has fantastic lyrics (get to them in as bit) helps a lot as well.
  • Immediately following that chorus is the best melody on the entire album. It has so much more energy to it and it contrasts really well with the typically gritty atmosphere that I’d usually expect from Mind.in.a.box. It doesn’t clash either. It’s just a great vibrant light in the middle of the darkness.


And then there’s the lyrics. As if this song wasn’t fantastic enough already. This song has the audacity to make me feel the perfect mixture of existential despair and the inspirational desire to move forward in life anyway. Well, that second part isn’t as immediately obvious as the lyrics about sadness are very nearly overwhelming. But I’m one who enjoys a bit of reflection of the despair I feel from time to time. Sometimes, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the path we travel, especially when the future is so hazy.  But the despair isn’t permanent. I’ve been putting a bit more effort into overcoming my fear of the unknowable future, and while I haven’t fully escaped the existential despair that threatens to overtake me, I have found myself able to resist it. I’m not going to just sit here and let the fire in my soul burn out.


I’ll keep walking forward.


Mind.in.a.box – Take My Soul (8.5): Take My Soul is the most upbeat song in the album. Doesn’t make it the best, but it does stand out compared to all the other songs that give off an underlying darkness to them. Take My Soul still adheres to the technological vibe that is Mind.in.a.box, but lot of the instruments in this song still have a slightly gritty feel to them, especially the lead synth in the chorus. And yet there’s some cleaner instruments as well, such as the stabs in the verses and the piano that appears in the intro, prechorus and intro. I feel that even the drums and vocals are a bit cleaner than usual. In fact, those clean vocals may even signify that this song isn’t sung by the agent (well what really convinces me is the lyrical content, but I’ll explain why later).


Take My Soul is all about escapism. It’s easy to feel that the reality we live in is flawed (not that perfection is really possible anyways) and we desire to escape from it. We imagine a perfect life and we wish to escape into it. Well, the singer of this song, who I believe is the hacker that Black has been following has made such an escape. No longer is he confined to the drab dark picture he paints in his first voice, but he instead immerses himself into a dream (can’t help but notice this word choice) in which he can find peace. It doesn’t matter to him that it’s unreal, that there’s not really anything there. That he is becoming complacent (a great fear of mine actually, maybe I should use this song as a wake up call for my own escapist habbits). He is living his dream. He has found escape…


Mind.in.a.box – Forever Gone (8.25): The hacker has escaped. The trace has disappeared. He is no longer cornered by whatever trap the agent and his employer have set in place. The man has completely disappeared and Black is only able to find him later at a bar, sprawled out on the ground with some unspecified technological gear nearby. He’s switched over to the other side. To an alternate reality made up of his own dreams. A place where Black and his employer can no longer find him. Their mission has failed…


It’s really hard to compare the two narrative tracks on this album. As far as the music goes, I think Waiting is a little bit better. It has a better blend of real instruments like the guitar and the piano while this song focuses almost exclusively on arps (not that there’s anything wrong with that). However, when it comes to the story itself, the stress of the agent losing his trace on the hacker in this song really has a stronger effect than simply watching the hacker from a distance. Plus, it has an additional chorus as a message from our hacker, taunting the fact that he has escaped the clutches of Black and his employer. He has escaped into his own dreamweb…


He is forever gone…


Mind.in.a.box – Lost Alone 2 (8.25): And so, we’re here at the titular track of the album… again… I believe that Lost Alone 2 is the agent’s answer to the message from the last Lost Alone. I’d consider this to be the superior iteration of Lost Alone. Mostly because the vocals are tons better. The themes are relatively similar. In a way, we’re all lost alone. Confused and isolated. Perhaps some more than others (and perhaps I’m biased due to my existential tendencies), but we needn’t be fully alone. Take comfort in the fact that no one is perfect and that there are people out there that sympathize with your struggles whatever they may be. We might not necessarily know this person. But I can promise they exist.


Not knowing where you belong is definitely a big theme in Mind.in.a.box’s discography. The agent’s future is riddled with the pondering of this question. The agent, like most of us, finds himself lost in a world that makes him question who to trust. A world that makes him question what is real. A world that tears apart his mind until he can’t help but question the very essence of his being. And yet, even in simpler times, before the storm that is about to happen to him. The agent is lost. He likely won’t ever fully feel certain.


But that doesn’t mean he has to be alone.


Mind.in.a.box – Leave (8): Leave is the closer to the debut album of Mind.in.a.box. It was where we end the first leg of out journey. A journey that has only just begun. As the closer of this song, Leave has a slightly more majestic feel to it. Not quite as dark, mysterious and brooding as the rest of the album. All of the melodies feel brighter, almost as if the rest of the album took place at the dead of night and this song is seeing the sun rise before the album fades away. Actually, seeing that this is a narrative album, it’s all too possible that this is exactly the case. After a long night of tracing the hacker and then finding nothing but an empty body, the agent finds himself in a mind-numbing situation. His mind is racing a hundred miles an hour and yet he’s paradoxically paralyzed in his doubt. He needs to find a new place. Somewhere he can clear his head.


And so, he leaves…


To be continued…


Conclusion: Mind.in.a.box is perhaps the most conceptually exciting artists I’ve ever heard. I’m not saying all music should have a narrative like this, but I wouldn’t complain if I saw it more often. However, I doubt any of them would be able to truly top Mind.in.a.box. Stefan has provided an excellent mindbending story exploring many mental twists that I seem to find quite relatable (not sure if I should find this concerning but I guess that’s just the case I’m dealing with at the moment. Black and I are quite an existential pair.). And as for the music there’s both a fantastic technological sound of his whole discography as well as some great vocals, be they clean, gritty, or distorted. All of this together makes for a splendid artist. The best part is that, as solid as this debut album is, it’s actually one of the lesser Mind.in.a.box albums in my opinion. It gets even better than this.


Final Score: (8/10)