REVIEW: The Alpha Conspiracy vs Low Technicians - "Forward Rewinding"

By Marcus Pan

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Forward RewindingAustin Texas' Diffusion Records offers us a look at a modern-day, data-blip style battle of the bands with Forward Rewinding. The two bands - The Alpha Conspiracy and the Low Technicians - square off and fire data like punches, challenging one another with style and moving loops of sound.

The Alpha Conspiracy is known for their debut full length Cipher. Andrew Sega is the leader of this troupe and since 1993 has been producing electronica and EBM/new-wave under various names and titles. Meanwhile, Low Technicians is another that has been around a while - Brad MacAllister of the industrial CTRL(1), with three albums under his belt with this project. Low Technicians is his new solo step, and it's a good one from a musician that has cut his teeth on heavier sounds. While solo, he also gets some help from Joel Willard and Brian Pearson with vocals and guitar work respectively.

The two bands' styles are very similar. Both stick to an old skool formula and their music tends to have a synth pop and new wave appeal. Sunday Monday Morning for example, the Low Technicians track that opens Forward Rewinding, uses great vocal harmonies with mesmerizing effects that loop them together. Backing instrumentals are very computeresque recalling when the ideas of mixing electronic-dominated music was fresh and new. As a result their work sounds not so much like new EBM coming out today and could easily be mistaken as "classics" in the genre even though they've just gotten here.

Forward Rewinding is in essence a synth pop CD that is as good as original sounds in this musical style. The Alpha Conspiracy's remake of Things Can Only Get Better is my favorite on the entire album - an excellent make-over for the classic Howard Jones track. The original song is slid through grooving synthetic melodies, Andrew Sega's whispered vocals and use of the original score unchanged, only on keys this time; the track is altogether the same song only modernized with flair. It's an example of what computers and electronics can do given the chance to remake something older. Spited You Ever Since, the second Low Technicans track here, is an instrumental with a moody flavor. Minutely altered and strategically arranged rhythm and beat are run up against keyboard washes and low key bass and digital-sounding melodies.

The CD is 8 tracks of electronic perfection. Or as close to it as one can get. At once new, yet with classic appeal, Forward Rewinding is an absolute necessary purchase for any fan of the synth pop and new wave genres. I'm really surprised especially by the work of Brad MacAllister as I'm used to his more aggressive and loud sounds, but he shows here he is just as masterful at more subtle sounds from moody keyboards to smooth vocal harmonies to subtle EBM-like rhythm manipulations. As far as who won the battle, it's hard to say. My favorite tracks are from the Low Technicians - but in my opinion the absolute shining star of the CD is the Alpha Conspiracy's Things Can Only Get Better cover. And Zeno's Paradox by them is also on my favorite's list with its sheer grooviness. So it seems kind of even to me. I think a rematch is in order!

Buy The Album
Buy Forward Rewinding

Contact Information:
Post: Diffusion Records, 3008 Hemphill Park, Austin, TX, 78705
Phone: (512) 413-6002

(1) See reviews of CTRL's Is Burning… in Legends #114, September 2001 and Secure the Shadow in Legends #87, June 1999.

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