Shaper and Mechanist is the first full-length release from Headscan, the Montreal-based duo Claude Charnier and Christian Pomerleau. Together, they blend techno, trance, EBM, and Industrial elements (with particular emphasis on the first two) to produce their own brand of electronic music.
Unfortunately, the album begins with its weakest tracks, which did not make for a very good first impression with me. The opener Silent Running is a fairly standard attempt at an EBM anthem in style similar to early Covenant or VNV Nation. The problem is that it is only fairly standard. It delivers a steady beat and good production value, but little else. The vocal melodies and programming simply fail to pull the listener in. Simply put, it's not very interesting. The second track, Body of Memory, although a bit different (and leaning further toward the trance end of the things) still manages to be a very lackluster track with a good steady dancebeat.
Luckily, the third track, Singularity, brings with it a sharp rise in quality, and marks the true beginning of a pretty fine electronic dance album with driving beats, excellent programming, and enough variation to keep things interesting. Headscan play with vocals quite a bit (in the songs that utilize vocals, that is), ranging in style from driving chants to the relatively melodic, all presented with an assortment of effects and distortions.
Shaper and Mechanist is obviously designed with the dancefloor in mind, with plenty of steady 'doofdoofdoof' for anyone wanting to dancedancedance (my personal favorites being the vaguely Velvet Acid Christ-esque Immortal, and the stompy Zenith). However Headscan do manage to deviate a bit from this standard with songs such as the moderately paced and somewhat eerie Submariner, and the heavily percussive Vaccuum Tube (which features some strategically placed heavy guitar samples, for those who like a little of that in their electronic music mix).
In short, Headscan is definitely worth a listen to any fan of EBM or trance, especially if one is looking for a combination of the two that can't also be labeled "futurepop" (i.e. EBM/trance infected by an overdose of synthpop). Just make sure to skip the first two tracks.
Post: Artoffact Records, 1057 Steeles Ave. W., P.O. Box 81630, Toronto, ON, M2R 3X1, Canada