REVIEW: Architect's Eye - "Decline"

By Chris Eissing

Chain Border

DeclineLending itself to some of the more noise-driven and esoteric offerings of bands like Nine Inch Nails or Depeche Mode, Architect's Eye is a rich and subtle mixture of dark tapestries and soundscapes. It plays like a dark backdrop rather than a collection of lyric-driven pieces. The brainchild of Jean Paul Braghin, it is a richer offering than most solo-dark wave projects and compilations.

Opening with Fracture it showcases two things usually overlooked, or at least poorly done: strong anchoring bass and wall-of-sound. It sets the tone for the rest of the album, giving a glimpse of the wide array of instruments and styles that are layered to create a thick mix. It is surprisingly clean. Cold Heaven immediately follows and takes it down the ladder to a soft place. Reminiscent of some of Depeche Mode's last successful foray into dark instrumentals on Music for the Masses, it has a softer approach with synthesis and hard guitar moments that are surprisingly warm.

A standout is Insignificance. Mixing thick off-beat Reznor rhythms with a sweet minimalist approach to melody. Its punch is half Curve, half NIN. A fine carnivorous piece that is hypnotic without being repetitive. Still brings out the best in his late-alternative synth influences and newer, darker edge sounds. Almost a snapshot of the little things that made Pretty Hate Machine (which halo was that again?) groundbreaking.

The second half of the album has its plodding moments. Still and Lux follow the mold of hypnotic repetitive rhythm and stylized vocal overdubs with wall of sound guitar adrenaline rages. Both are well done, but blend together. Especially coming after songs like Cold Heaven and Insignificance. This is broken with Spine, a fine pumped up dance track with intricate rhythms. At the same running pace as Perfect Drug it never approaches the primordial scream that it seems to be driving towards. It also never lets up, or trips over itself.

Shell is probably the best of the minimalist pieces on the album. Offering a teetering rhythm that doesn't let the listener slip easily into the sweet melodies comfortably. It is stronger for this, not weaker. Bringing in drums alone for the punch, and not a distorted guitar wash off sets it from the other songs in the album. It stands out for breaking an arrangement style that is established as law up to this point in the album. Track 11, Separation Anxiety, is probably the largest of the songs. Showcasing a strong sound mix, arrangement and underscored punches it is an antithesis to the driving power of the opening track.

Architect's Eye never falls into the trap of trying to make synthesis for keys and drums sound like something they're not. Letting them be dark in their own right rather than attempting to recreate gothic string ensembles. Through the meat of the album it falls into an arrangement pattern of mellow and ethereal soundscapes intermixed with noise walls and adrenaline power guitars. This style works, but makes some songs become predictable. Waiting through hypnotic and minimalist moments for the crash of distortion. As a whole it plays from beginning to end strong, but may be better served by ungrouping like-arranged songs and mixing them throughout the compilation.

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