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CD Review

Alaska Highway - “Attitudes of a Difficult Mind”

By Marcus Pan

Attitudes of a Difficult MindOh wonderful, yet more farty-based electronic, but wait what's this? Vocals not so overly laced with vox and whispers greet me in the Weep With Me opening track and suddenly I'm enjoying myself. The musicality that surrounds the vocals are deep and moving with plenty of grinding low tones to rail the woofers of any under-cared for stereo (like mine).

Alaska Highway is made up of Anthony (vocals) and Moose (vocals & music) with a number of buddies coming round about to throw in a few words here and some programming there. Including Robert Smith (surely not one and the same, but it says it right there on the jacket). Regardless of the name of the outfit, they hail from Pasadena California and have plopped out their debut of Attitudes of a Difficult Mind on Negative Gain, who are surely building a fine stable of electronic and industrial acts to take the world over within a decade or so.

Track two, Intelligence War, is a favorite of mine. Negative Gain seem to be into picking up artists that continually remind me of Nothing Inside. But unlike the last review of this nature I did(1) I'm finding this CD to be quite good, better than most of the electro that's been piling up here. Intelligence War is a grooving instrumental, excepting the samples laid into it. By the time we reach the fourth track, Hell Bound Heart, I'm also finding myself able to compare Alaska Highway to Psyche(2) as well as the vocals get toned down and the melodies get a bit more ambient yet spicy.

Radio Prague throws an ambient sample in the midst of the album to break it up a bit. Not necessary, if'n a little interesting. As the second half of the album moves along, it does fall victim a little bit to the "same old standard fare" disease for just a little, but not enough to turn me off that much. The vocals of Anthony and Moose are quite good and really help make even the occasional sub-par instrumental mixes shine. On Fatal Resistance, for one example, the nearly un-touched singing actually is Alaska Highway's saving grace on a song that would easily have become another boring electronica tune.

But just in case you start to fall asleep, the work within I Believe throws in a truly catchy trip. Using a standard drum track, adding some low down bass on top, applying some moving guitar rhythms and then sneaking in a few keyboard slides, the result is a fine trance style tune and quite radio friendly as well. In fact, most if not all of this CD is radio friendly, something you don't find on my desk very often. The lyrics here on I Believe is kept minimal so that our flippant dance floor divas can groove to it without spending too much time having to reconnect brain cells through the haze of THC and XtC.

Even Angels Have to Die is Attitudes’ sweet moment with excellent vocals and lightening melodies speared with darker choreographed chord progressions. It reminds me of the way Psyche broke up their Misguided Angels(3) CD with the forelorn musings of Fallen Horses. The surprising piano piece, Warmth, shows off the musical prowess of the guys and the vocal capabilities as well. As good as any love ballad I've ever heard.

A great piece of work is Attitudes of a Difficult Mind and, at least for the space of the CD, I find myself remembering what I liked about the industrial and electronica genre of music before I got lost in a deluge of same-old shite. I’d like to see these two continue – their voices are top notch and their programming is dead on. I’d be fine if Alaska Highway was the only new industrial and electronica band to keep going from here.

(1) I’m referring to my review of Filament 38’s Fractured.
(2) Latest Psyche release: Babylon Deluxe. Reviewed in Legends #141.
(3) Reviewed in Legends #112.
Contact Information:
Negative Gain Productions
Post: PMB 171, 1770 S. Randall, Ste. A, Geneva, IL, 60134, USA
Phone: (610) 595-9940
E-Mail: cruciform1@aol.com
Web: www.negativegain.com