REVIEW: Edge of Dawn - "In Fear of the Unknown"

By Wilde

Chain Border

In Fear of the UnknownEdge of Dawn is a solo project of Mario Schumacher of Elz, Germany. More or less a child prodigy, Schumacher got into the music business early, starting in '95 at age 16, under the name Mirror. Changing to Edge of Dawn in '98, he signed with and started making waves in the EBM community. In Fear of the Unknown is his second self released disc. Overall, the music reminds me of the soundtrack of a manga film involving cyborgs beating the tar out of each other.

In Fear of the Unknown (club version) - This is a relatively heavy, somber EBM track with heavily vocoded vocals. With lots of buzzing and high speed, this is a Lovecraft meets Kraftwerk sort of track. Then of course there are the vocoded German vocals, an industrial staple.

Deviation - With a heavy, fragmented backbeat, the familiar buzzing and good use of stereo and dynamics, Deviation has sort of an Autechre robotic vibe, but more violent. This, I think, is primarily where the Japanimation cyborg fight scene music reference really hits. Picture this in Alita: Battle Angel or some robot martial arts video game. Gets a bit more esoteric toward the end, primarily a synthesizer breakdown.

Ennui - This trip hop track starts out with strings, with an underlying synth buzz and whispered vocals, then goes into a low distorted beat. Ennui is a slowburn groove, with echoes of Portishead and, more faintly, Mozart.

Aimless - A low synth buzz starts this one out, then the EBM "booty shaker" beat starts thumping, complete with breakbeats and some loop-cut muting. Reminds me of Fat of the Land but with a darker feel. This track also has hints of acid rock, with backward masked drums and electric guitar.

Deja Vu - Starting out Renaissance classical mixed with a wicked techno buzz, Deja Vu goes into a beat-only breakdown, then transitions to Falco-reminiscent vocals with distorted harpsichord synths. Bit of an Apoptygma Berzerk feel here. Also included here is the obligatory German yelling.

Sleep - Consider this more of an 'androids dream of electric sheep' sleep than an afternoon snooze. This starts out with a clock ticking with echo, and a low electro buzz, then onward to ethereal synths and a low bass pulse. This alternates with a complex stereo field beat with high-pitched buzz pulse. Speaking of afternoon snoozes, this is a pretty long track. Definitely in the "DJ smoke break" category.

Concrete Jungle - There's a chiming synth riff to start, then a hard industrial crunch beat. From there, we go directly into the distributed stereo field buzzing synth blips. Definitely an 'urban traffic' vibe to this one. There's a breakdown to a stalking beat, with varying drum runs. All these alternate. Concrete Jungle is a pretty spatial track.

Seichte Schatten - Starts out with a sinister trip hop guitar/beat and whispered German vox (slightly flanged). Title means 'shallow shadows.' Slight vibraphone in the background, guitar wail. This is a very minimalist track, with breakbeats galore.

Edge of DawnInsanity - Starts out with mandolin, and background string synths. Fast, light, complex breakbeat, mandolin riff, low bass. Mandolin drops out, light guitar replaces. Mandolin comes back briefly, then out to screeching alarm clock-style synths. Breakdown. Odd, but interesting.

Alien Society - Full on into the insectile beat/synths, complex, fragmented beat, chirping, heavily processed vox. This is total bug hive music.

Nocturnal Visions - The extended instrumental noodling of this track puts it firmly into the "DJ Smoke Break" category. Pulsing bass synths start it off, then low, ghostly chiming, various metallic ringing noises, and ethereal synths over top. After a while it goes into a straightforward Metropolis-style synth groove, still with underlying ethereals. From there, we are offered a sinister bass synth riff over complex breakbeat with ethereals. On into the piano riff, with the bass getting progressively heavier, then back into ethereal with a high buzz pulse and significant use of expression control. This track finishes up with sinister bass/ethereals and some scratch.

Meine Welt, Breakout, Compulsion, Beneath It All - All I have to say about these tracks is that they're inflicted with an odd CD burning anomaly that makes them choppy as hell; it's the audio equivalent of the camera shake in the Blair Witch Project. It was so bad I couldn't listen to the rest of the CD. This is probably just a fluke, but Herr Schumacher needs to be a mite more careful burning his CDs.

Overall, I quite liked this disc, being a sucker for fight scene music in general. Schumacher could probably get work doing video game soundtracks if he wanted it. That said, this whole disc is very much like a video game soundtrack, although it'll still appeal to EBM fans. Edge of Dawn is sufficiently all over the genre map that there's a little something for everybody here, and it looks as if Schumacher can only get better. One to watch.

Contact Information:
Post: Mario Schumacher, Gartenstraße 17,65604 Elz, Germany, 06431/580876

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