REVIEW: Void II Void - "The Symbol & The Shrine"

By Marcus Pan

Chain Border

Void II VoidVoid II VoidSalem, New Hampshire brings us the new avant-garde progressive outfit of Void II Void. Seeking to push and develop a harsher electronic style, a post-industrial/EBM if you will, Scott DeFusco has been diligently recording this mini CD - six tracks worth - for about two years through the final end of last century. Come 2000, Void II Void have packaged the work he's done in 98-99 and put it out as The Symbol & The Shrine, one of the better debut surprises I've gotten in a while.

The Symbol & The Shrine is a very difficult CD to pigeonhole. I'm having a lot of trouble saying, "Ok, folks, here's an industrial release…" etc. or anything that resembles such a remark. I wanted to say industrial - then a new track started and suddenly I wanted to say ambient. Next track I wanted to say minimal-progressive or something of that nature and so on and so forth. What I can tell you is that you'll hear instrumentation that will remind you of some industrial bands, and then some experimental, then electronic/ambient, then almost soundtrack-like accompaniments. And sometimes they all coalesce together into one of the most interesting style mixes I've heard in a while.

The short opening track, Glass Armour, is a toy piano solo that actually lowered my hopes at the outset. It's minimal and simplistic, even with the growing backing wind melodies, but it segues beautifully into Nebularium 9 ... 9, a post-industrial track with gritty electronics with similarly electronically-gritted vocal work. A bit minimal, but the harsh sound of the song saves it from becoming monotonous and I find the toy piano, which still appears during some breaks, to be well contrasted against the gritty electronic work.

Rolling into a smooth trancy track called Temporary Threshold Shift that successfully provides a feeling of atmospheric isolation (per Void II Void's press sheet), you can see here that DeFusco's love of piano like sounds is apparent throughout a lot of his work. He keeps a similar electro-melody here that you heard on Nebularium 9 ... 9, but with more float and less grit. Vocals become whispering and soothing and the rhythmic backbeat is very well arranged keeping just the right complication vs minimalism to support the atmospheric quality of the rest of the arrangement.

Suddenly Void II Void thrust us into Black Room Incident, a Karftwerk gone mad arrangement where still his piano-like synth scores take on a faster, harsher and more computer-laden rush. The toy piano form Glass Armour is back during the soft breaks in rhythm and score, tinking lightly in the background. Suddenly I realize I covered two thirds of the CD - and I like to always leave something to the imagination of my readers (with the exception of compilations of course) from a new band, so I'm going to end my detail here.

I must say, I was pleasantly surprised with Void II Void's The Symbol & The Shrine. I was downtrodden at the outset, Glass Armour being a bit too simplistic to stand on its own, but discovered happily that when segued and combined with the following track actually made it quite a quality opening. I was enamored with the wide range of genres that DeFusco pulls his arrangements from and surprised that his similarity of piano-like score effects is arranged and affected throughout the CD well enough to not cause any let down or monotony. Temporary Threshold Shift is probably my favorite track here, but all are quite well done. Unfortunately, this is one of those CDs that I'm unable to say "if you like band X pick up Void II Void," but I think going over two thirds of The Symbol & The Shrine as in depth as I have more than makes up for the lack of genre-naming and will allow listeners to determine from there if Void II Void is something they will enjoy.

Contact Information:
Post: Void Sector Recordings, P.O. Box 1384, Salem, NH, 03078

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