REVIEW: Thou Shalt Not – “The White Beyond”

By Marcus Pan

Chain Border

The White BeyondOriginators of Thou Shalt Not, Alexx Reed and Aaron Fuleki, bring in Jeremy Long to release The White Beyond on Dancing Ferret Discs. I’ve been a fan of TSN since their self-titled debut(1) back in 2000 which made its way out on the small ADSR label, and since then they’ve also released The Holiness of Now(2) as well as one other. Their fourth release is by far surpassing of both the previous that I know, showing a huge increase in abilities, talent and pushes the bar of complicated synthetic programming far beyond what it once was with the help of Long.

The entire album is fabulous, and while the group still melds the best of ambient, techno, trance and synthpop together you’ll find this album a bit more upbeat than their previous – yet retaining it’s dark edge and ego. From the opening Inside of You, In Spite of You, the CD immediately grabs your attention and forces you into the melding programming. The complication factor of the music, with virtually an uncountable mass of rhythmic pulsations, melodic interludes and the additional guitar and keys provided by their newest bandmate, has jumped tremendously from what it was previously. Their previous albums were already wonderfully mixed, but now with the duo being a trio it’s become far more energetic.

Highlighting a few of the tracks off of The White Beyond is extremely difficult as they are all well made. From the percussive chaos-yet-control of Come a Time to the smooth whistles that permeate We Could have Flown Like Pollen that suddenly dip into sudden clefts of brutal rhythms, the album as a whole is a tremendous success on so many levels.

A big highlight for me on their debut as well as Holiness was the lyrical content. Much of the vocals on The White Beyond are sweetly sung and beautifully choreographed together into well done harmonies, while the content defies the beauty of the voice with paradoxes, questions and dark imagery…”And now you’re screaming bloody murder breaking promises and bread” from the fifth track, The Ocean Is Your Voice, being one example. Sung sweetly, telling darkly.

To check out some of what I assume is Jeremy’s piano work, be sure to pop to track seven, 100 Generations. Soft and haunting melodies accompanying Alex’s smooth vocal delivery with yet more well written poetic lyrics…”Swallow up the universe till all the killing’s done.” Sublimely smooth, yet verbally dark, 100 Generations is a well balanced work of art – one of many on this album. It’s so rare when something so gloomy can be so beautiful. And what would a Thou Shalt Not release be without an experimental interlude like The Insistence on Solid Floors? A softer form of drum ‘n bass combined with quietly syncopated piano, the name of the track alone provokes your head to go running on thought trains. This quickly segues into one of the more upbeat tunes on the album, G.L.M. (seemingly short for Girls Like Me) which keeps the d’n’b feeling alive.

Following this is what I find to be my favorite track of the album. The grooves of Trial By Fire are infectious and the choruses bring back my fondest memories of newly arrived new-wave and synthpop from across the Atlantic when I could still count my age using my fingers and toes. Which is fitting, considering I can’t keep my toes from not tapping along to this ditty. Now I could continue on, discussing the bittersweet tinklings of Song for the Dying, backing up to track two’s Cardinal Directions or bringing up the title track, but I won’t.

In short: Thou Shalt Not’s latest, The White Beyond, is world’s beyond their previous, already beautiful, work. If you are even remotely interested in synthpop and trance style music, this is a must have for your collection. Featuring thought provoking and well written lyrics, darker stylings behind smooth, lighter melodies and mixing it up with very complicated, chaotic-yet-controlled rhythms and programming, The White Beyond is easily one of the top releases of 2003. So far, I’ve kept all Thou Shalt Not releases in my personal collection – and I will do the same with this one and with the amount of music I get crossing the Legends desk, that’s saying a whole hell of a lot.

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Contact Information:
Post: Dancing Ferret, 526 S. 5th St., Philadelphia, PA, 19147, USA

(1) Reviewed in Legends #102.
(2) Reviewed in Legends #117.

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