REVIEW: The Azoic - "Forward…"

By Marcus Pan

Chain Border

Forward...Times are changing, and while Nilaihah is still one of the greatest darkwave labels out there, they are certainly growing strong as they begin to provide some great EBM as well. Take the latest release from Kristy Venrick, head of Nilaihah Records, of her own outfit The Azoic. The last time we've seen The Azoic in full force was three years ago in 1998 with their release of Where Broken Angels Lie(*) . Then they were compared to such greats as Mentallo and the Fixer, Wumpscut and others like them. But with a sinister edge.

The Resistor(**) compilation held a treat for those waiting to hear from them again in the form of Progression, a track from the new Azoic. I say new because The Azoic have stepped into an EBM sound, showing an amazing maturity in their music. The duo say that Forward… is the culmination of a "three year learning process and musical growth." They admit the band has "changed focus," but promise they "are still the unique and passionate band" that we knew from before.

Indeed, I concur. Forward… is modernization of their previous work, but still you can here the deeper, sinister nature of their music that I loved and remember from Where Broken Angels Lie; it winds beneath the rhythmic pulses, melodic overtones and wiggles between the danceable tracks creating a brighter, more danceable, foot stomping sweep of genius that leaves the bright melodies to our senses, but the darkness to our imagination. The rhythms are flawless and truly mastered, with overlaying keyboards, sudden breakdowns and complicated arrangements that keep you moving. The death of some electronic music similar is repetition - or I should say the lack of finesse that makes it seem like there isn't any repetition even though loops may continue through the track. You don't have this with The Azoic because of the constant manipulations provided to the music on all levels, from rhythm to melody to vocals.

A highlight to this release, besides Progression of course, is Evolution. On this track the smooth voice of Kristy is replaced by the sinister rasp of Steve. One of the darker tracks on the album as far as mood goes, contributed to by the thumpier bassline and alto rhythm melodies. Progression meanwhile appears on the fourth track here, but we are treated at the end on tracks 8, 10 and 11 to remixes of this piece. Of particular note is the dirge remix, created by Assemblage 23. Assemblage 23 takes the modern track and moves it back a few centuries, opening with brilliantly scored piano. The rhythm is minimal but fascinating. It's excellently crafted.

To sum it up, the long three year wait for another release by The Azoic was well worth it. The duo of Kristy Venrick and Steve Laskarides have improved remarkably. I thought Nilaihah's Resister was one of the top releases of 2000. They've not disappointed yet again, and I find The Azoic's Forward… to be one of the top releases of 2001.

Buy The Album
Buy Forward...

Post: Nilaihah Records, P.O. Box 82614, Columbus, OH, 43202

* Reviewed in Legends #91.
** Reviewed in Legends #101.

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