V/A Electro-Age I : The Awakening
By Marcus Pan
I originally decided to write
this CD up myself as soon as it arrived because of a handful of names that
appear on the compilation. I've always enjoyed the work of Noxious Emotion,
pretty much from day one, and their live set blows my mind so when I saw they
have Nobelium on here that was a big plus. Also Apocrypho and ThouShaltNot as
well as Glis also appear, and those three I also enjoy very much. So seeing
those names on this Latex Records release stoked me, and I decided to keep it
and therefore would have to review it personally.
Being a compilation with fifteen tracks, you know I
typically go over each track for each band so we'll do that here. The artwork,
first off, of Electro-Age I : The Awakening is quite stunning, front and
back, very bright and almost pleasant, if surreal, in nature. Described as
"alternative music for alternative thinkers," Latex meant to bring together
various electronic and underground masterpieces that help one to delve into
their subconscious. Now if I had time to close my eyes, drift off and spin this
CD directly into my brain via headphones, that very well could work, but alas I
have to write this and other reviews so off we go.
The smooth ethereal strains of Undercity 2000 opens
slowly, adding taps to get your mind skipping to the beat. The shredding
techno-laced synthesizers that break in immediately tear open any semblance of
boredom, grabbing onto a catchy medium paced rhythm bolstered by background key
strains and chords. Breaks in Undercity 2000 provide relief and sampled
discussions of urbania before it shreds again into its latticework of heavy
techno synths and bass pumping. Created by New Mind, Undercity 2000 is
exclusive to Electro-Age I : The Awakening.
The second from the longest track on the compilation, System
der Dinge's Narcotic is an ominously opening track populated with
dirge-like wails and frightening yowls that may or may not be human. As a soft
spoken gentleman discusses with you, Narcotic's ominous chorales fade
excellently into a Kraftwerk-like techno-future rhythmic collaboration that
builds slowly into a smooth, trance-state song that wraps itself around you.
Enjoyable, even if it clocks in at nearly seven minutes in length. This track
is also exclusive to this compilation.
System der Dinge
The third track is the longest on the entire fifteen track
compilation. A full seven and a half minutes, Tentatio Ardua 2 chants
its way around, growing stolidly as brush-stroke rhythms bubble up from under
the surface. Another exclusive track for Electro-Age I, Conscientia
Peccatti adds tribal beat hits to move the track slowly along its course.
Ominous sirens flow in from outside as the rhythm builds into an
if-not-powerful, at least stable, force. Im of mixed feelings as to
whether this dirge-like track needed to be done in as long as seven and a half
The electro-stimulation of Glis Nightvision
screams alive on track four, picking up the pace of the compilation following
the slow-moving dirge of Tentatio Ardua 2. Finally, the electronic
industrial I expected to hear arrives. Glis was a band Ive only heard one
release by(1), but suggest mightily and still own in my own personal collection
of music. Nightvision is a fast-paced new-wave synth pop style tune with darker
industrial tendencies and catchily arranged melodies.
Lysa Nalins Vision immediately cuts the
established pace down with its beat-gong opening, but within twenty seconds is
spinning into a swiftly moving highly-complicated rhythm structure that really
does keep the speediness going. Female vocals are seductive and mesh well with
the surrounding keyboard score. This track keeps the keyboard and synth
arrangements smooth and slow, but wrap them around a more moving backbeat
giving the track an interesting effect consciously youre listening
to the oozing melodies and subconsciously your brain is trying to keep up with
Nuada takes us on a trip of weirdness in Mage Sun.
Trancing into an off-kilter melody over which a heavy-handed percussive
movement builds, the main downfall of Mage Sun is its use of extremely
stock beats that lends the track a heard-it-before quality. Spoken word over
top with various uses of Casio Tonebank stock samples playing slow and boorish
melodies attempt to add a level of surrealism to the track, but instead infuse
it with retardation.
Nobelium is one of the better tracks off of
Elements(2) This mix, the Air-Fire-Water-Earth Mix, adds a more
flute-like dirge to the track while keeping it swift and moving. See my
previous reviews of Noxious Emotions material(3) to get a general idea of
what I like about this troupe.
TVKill, while not only being
something of a good idea, also is a contributing band to the compilation.
Trust is one of the more minimal tracks on the Electro-Age I,
being recorded only on a two track, but clearly shows what talent can do with
low end equipment. The standout component of Trust is the fat-back drums
that slam through your speakers one of the better percussion layouts and
arrangements Ive come across in a while. Off-tune keyworks and vocals do,
however, steal a bit of the songs finesse.
Getting a slight more experimental, Gaia throws
metallic static against low-tone bass at the outset, but adds in catchy
low-tone rhythm pulses that immediately bring the track from boorish to
brilliant. Takshaka takes on a more drumn bass style of arranging than
other artists here and the end results is a five minute + rhythmic, sometimes
arrhythmic, dnb song that will slip into piano melodies and
breakdowns without warning just to keep you on your toes especially at
around three minutes in where it gets suddenly near-silent, then brightly
illuminated, then once again low-down funky. A highlight of this
Kajs Under the Moon is next; a more
gothic-oriented song with piano arrangements and heavy handed well played bass
(guitar?). Vocals break out here, an unexpected thing at this turn. This makes
the track stand out on the compilation, if only for its differences with the
other mostly-electronic songs preceding it. Additionally, it also stands out
because its really pretty good. It has a tendency to close kind of on a
The Moors, in this instance a band rather than a place,
bring us The Hunter, Cernunnos whose synthetic dirge opens like you are
exactly where the bands name says you are on nothing but open space and
swampy ground. Guitars are muted but existent, unlike most tracks on
Electro-Age I. Female ooo-ey-ness tries to compete with the skin-banging
drum work. Unfortunately, this is another droning groaner of a track.
Surprising the hell out of me with their debut release(4),
we come across one of this compilations best pieces. Apocraphos
Connect is a thrilling piece that mixes up everything from synthetic
melodies, chorale scratches, vocal utterings and even disco-like ooos
that somehow coalesce into a very enjoyable piece of music. A highlight
Boom sha boom go the woofers as ThouShaltNots
Without Faith kicks in. This is the Nothing Mix here, which
appeared on The Holiness of Now(5). Im a fan of ThouShaltNot and
have been since their self-titled debut(6), but the Nothing Mix just
doesnt do it for me. Check out the footnotes to see some of my comments
on their previous, more excellent, work. I love the way they broke up the
vocals at three minutes in on this version of Without Faith however.
Creepily futuristic, Shivering Skies by Diverje
attacks on a subliminal level. But does so a bit stoicly as it sweeps synthetic
techno-brash around in a whirlwind that dousent but could, if given the
chance, go anywhere but instead just stays in one spot and goes around and
Closing completely and unabashedly different, Electro-Age
I : The Awakening falls asleep at the wheel with its inclusion of Music for
the Goddess Round and Round. The folk-like Round and Round
is a beautiful song and deserving of inclusion somewhere but on a
surrealists electronic compilation? Im not sure what they were
thinking, but theres a lot to be said about keeping a compilation as a
whole those that go branching out into different genres, especially on
one as pointedly convergent as this one, is going to tend to fall short of
expectations. I like this song
but it shouldnt be closing
Electro-Age I. Methinks Latex Records jests
Music For the Goddess
(1) Extract was reviewed in Legends #119.
(2) Reviewed in Legends #102.
(3) Count Zero and Symbols
(my personal favorite) in Legends #89.
Spiritual Cannibal, reviewed in
(5) The bands sophomore
release, reviewed in Legends #117.
(6) Reviewed in Legends #102.
Latex Records, LLC
Post: 5857 Brookstone Walk, Acworth, GA, 30101-8473, USA
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