REVIEW: V/A – “Emotional Overdrive”

By Ray Van Horn, Jr.

Chain Border

Baltimore's Angelfall Studios has issued an intelligent compilation of avant garde electronica, Emotional Overdrive; a tempered collection of beat-driven Goth with a keen, pinpointed deluge into the digital abyss, a varying soundscape of ambient trip hop programming that refreshes as it provokes.

Showcasing his feature projects, Ego Likeness and The Trinity Project, artiste quartermaster Steve Archer offers samplings of his and wife Donna Lynch's crafts, while giving light to a slew of stable residents such as Form/Alkaline, 40 Watt Son, Foam and Echomatrix. The pair of Ego Likeness songs appearing on Emotional Overdrive, Song to the Divine (Radio Edit) and Above the Soil (Edward's Version) contrast one another in range and atmosphere, yet are a noteworthy pairing. The former, Divine, is an accessible, fast-driving, Modern English-esque nod to new wave featuring tight production values and confident vocals, whereas Above the Soil is melodramatic, as perfectly welcome on The Cure's Bloodflowers or Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures as Archer's shockingly targeted Ian Curtis yowls indicate. Together the two songs create a wickedly hazy miasma duplicated in the cerebral Trinity Project couplet, If I'm Not Careful, I'll Start to Get Scared of the Walls, and Genesha's Mouse (Quick Death in Ether Mix).

If I'm Not Careful... is an artistic endeavor featuring prose in marriage to a manic techno fugue score, a chilling narration that is in harmony with its counterpart soundtrack of disorder. Genesha's Mouse is a brilliant dissemination of structure that calls to mind Ace Frehley's Fractured Mirror, an exquisite assemblage of instruments climaxing in an orgy of mixed syncopation. Genesha's Mouse accomplishes the same effect with its twenty-first century twinges of Aphex Twin and DJ Sasha, a slick hybrid that leaves the listener uplifted, as accomplished in Fractured Mirror.

Form/Alkaline likewise boasts a duo of songs, disciplined yet delightfully perverse. Alias 2 is vibrant, playful digital core, aloof at times, but snaking through an infectious back beat that slithers serpentine in comparison to the later arrival, Double Blind, which writhes and luxuriates in its celebratory sexuality, underscored by a subliminal world sound that is highly creative.

Emotional OverdriveAs for the other groups, Boole sports a sexy dance club tone with Pheromones, a soundly executed mix of vocals and samples that resonates with a dash of LaTour. Aesma Daeva's Stay has a conventional beat with Alison Moyet-type lassitude, while Echomatrix's Jumping From Tall Buildings toys with drum machines and keyboards in "gravity manipulation," that interestingly brings forth a subtle R&B sound to it. Foam's Clear is brash drum and bass with its rugged thumping, while I Awoke's Gone rings with a Love and Rockets style backbeat, breaking the mold of the aforementioned world music sound entranced within the Goth simplicities of the Andrew Eldritch-like vocals. 40 Watt Son's Why Now? tinkers with a whimsical homage to Yaz, while Coleman takes us on a serene motherboard journey from America to Asia to Australia with his Chemical Brothers experimentalism on Wreckuiem.

Emotional Overdrive is a thoroughly enjoyable construct that has been treated delicately and with respect, both to the artists and the listener. Engaging, not mystifying, passionate with just the right blend of cheekiness, Emotional Overdrive is not self-delusionary; what you see is what you get, and what you get is thorough and deferential.

Contact Information:
Post: Angelfall Studios, LLC, 2936 Remington Ave., Baltimore, MD, 21211-2830, USA
Phone: (410) 261-3313
Fax: (410) 261-3316

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