CD Review

Observe & Control – “Utopia”

By Marcus Pan

UtopiaBright-eyed EBM fashiners Observe & Control were created by Israel's Tom Cohen (Gnuth). The name Xanthippe is what the outfit was originally known as at its formation in 2002, but inspiration from Michel Foucault of French philosophy found Cohen changing the name to the current Observe & Control. Lyrics are written by Iris Idelson, Utopia seeks to tell us the historically significant story of the rising and falling of perfect organization and life.

Sharing the stage with such well known acts as Apoptygma Berserk, Haujobb and Das Ich, Tom brings up at least two other musicians to help create the live version of the Observe & Control outfit. The Utopia release as a whole is certainly high class EBM/industrial with hints of trance and a flair for the more brighter melodic tastes.

The swift opening of title track Utopia is quick and refreshing, not resorting much to minutes-long intros. Smoothly produced and well layed, the music of Observe & Control is certainly following in the veins for the genre without too much worry put to crossing into other territory. The following Scissors Doll is a favorite of mine. While Tom's music is typically higher and brighter than a lot of deep-dark styles, the lyrical content provided by Iris fuses it with a darker element to make a much stronger whole than would be if both followed one or the other.

Purges is a heavy stomper with slamming beats and computeresque melodies interspersed with synth chords and riffing guitar. Monsters continues the heavy stomp groove and uses Kraftwerk-influenced techno slices to create an extremely fast moving piece of music...instrumental this time around but interspersed with interesting samples. The Talking Tina opening of Creatures is brilliant.

Obedience takes on the form of an eletro-chant rather than anything else. Vocals are distant and behind. Surrounding instrumentation is wonderfully complicated and full with the stompyness of Observe & Control's heavier tracks continuing. There are a few low points I suppose. War for example is, while swift and it does a lot, somehow forgettable. And Light, as another example, uses such heavy handed guitar strains that everything else is steeped in oblivion. And for all its up-front nature, it doesn't do all that much either.

Throughout the course of Utopia, you won't find anything jumping out at you screaming "fresh and new!" But if you're into the EBM style, you can't go wrong here. It is mostly well put together and it's chock full of dance floor stompers. Nothing perfect – but Utopia's a good buy for anyone into this genre who's looking for more of the same powerful EBM they've grown to like.

Contact Information:
Observe & Control
Post: Usha 2, Tel Aviv, 69392, Israel
Phone: +972 50363583

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