State of the Union - Inpendum &
By Marcus Pan
Another electronic act trying to blend
their own (expected) type of EBM, State of the Union hails from Los Angeles,
California. While the world is getting pummeled with electro-EBM acts,
futuristic styles and synthetic strains designed to sound like you've just
stepped out of a timeship into 3027, State of the Union are at least one of the
highlights of this inundated genre.
Through the 90's, singer/creator Johann Sebastian worked his
magic in other industrial and electronic acts and now steps out on his own as
State of the Union. When live Johann performs vocals while Hector Del and Jose
Montesdeca mess around with synthesizers and Jimmy Nimra bangs percussion. At
this point they've stacked up three releases. There's Black City Lights,
and the two that I'm talking about here today Inpendum and the
maxi single Timerunner.
Union's style is common, but well done. Synthetic melodies
combine with high beats per minute to create futuristic strains. High
complication is a highlight to the music and the make up is a friendly blend of
trance, techno and darkwave. I can call upon comparisons with Nothing Inside,
Netz and Massiv In Mensch to name a few that stand out in recent memory.
Inpendum is, in my opinion, the better of the
two that WTII Records sent my way. This CD tells a story of a future time when
"machines dominate," and has the interesting effect of fusing Terminator
style imagery with 80s synthpop grooviness. Opening with two instrumentals
(Inpendum and Escape) the CD sets the tone you'll enjoy through
the rest of the CD. Somewhere in Time is the first vocal track on the
album, with Johann's voice keeping a low-key, bass-tone and not trying to
become a main piece of the music; not succumbing to most lead vocalists' ego
trips that appear when they try to push said vocals over the music rather than
blend with it. Instead, State of the Union combines all facets of the
arrangement together well.
Nara slides into a trancey, surreal-like dirge with
some spoken word enmeshed in smooth rhythms and drum 'n bass. It's something of
a minimalist piece and doesn't stand out much, but it surely shows State of the
Union's prowess at creating a lot from a little. Unforgiving Time takes
synth-lines right out of old school Erasure or Kraftwerk and molds a fine piece
of music. This is an example of a band taking a well-worn genre and dry
cleaning it so that it's fun to wear again. The only caveat by this time (we're
at track five right now) is that Johann's vocals begin, slightly, to sound a
little monotonous. But the effect going for here is one of smooth, unabashed
future-pop so that can be somewhat forgiven within the grooves.
After the slow low-down dirge of Suffer the Fallen,
the stepped-up beats of Makina Mata move the floor. Johann still
continues his bass-laden dirge, but allows a little bit of feeling to flow into
his voice during choruses though he does tend to hold notes a little long.
Something which can at times flatline the track a little. A little instrumental
break with Hypnosis and then we go back into vocal tracks with
Afterlife, another well made future/synth pop ditty.
Timerunner, a max-single that
includes remixes of the nominal tune three times over, includes three further
tracks labeled Experiment I through III and has another called
Children of the Night. Continuing the journey through the future of
cyborgs and sentient machinery, Timerunner opens very soothingly with
Al Principio that includes a (Spanish I believe, but its damn hard
to tell with the echo.) spoken word section over top. Ambient sounds mix in the
background and just ooze you along into the original version of
Timerunner which immediately runs off with a high level beats per minute
and is populated by very well done synth work and keyboard arrangements. Very
catchy. Experiment I is a hard-edged drum n bass track, hard
hitting but a little drawn out. The following Experiment II continues
the barrage. Thankfully Children of the Night rescues us from the
over-the top slams and constant bangings of the experiments, but exists only to
dump us into Experiment III which is, while a bit lighter, another drum
n bass track that starts like the others but fortunately turns up a bit
of a melody.
Overall, State of the Union isnt going to jump out and
grab you screaming, Hey this is really off the wall new! Not at
all. Instead its going to bring you back to the best of the EBM and
industrial revolution as brought to us by Kraftwerk, Erasure and early
Ministry. What Johann Sebastian lacks in versatility of voice he certainly
makes up for with his musical prowess and synthetic arrangements.
WTII Records, LLC
Post: PO Box 13495, Chicago, IL, 60613, USA
Phone: (773) 755-2415
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