Monumentum - Review
After a short break by this duo to focus on their solo work, they're back with their 2009 album Monumentum
This album is the great next chapter in this band's history featuring thirteen powerful, new tracks for fans to enjoy. The booklet is fairly standard, but comes with lyrics and band info and all together makes a nice package.
The album take a while to build as we start with the ambient introductory track aptly titled "Open". After this dreamy piece we're brought to "The End" which again slowly builds, making for a very long introduction before the pounding beats finally kick in. For fans familiar with this duo's other projects NamNamBulu, Reaper
, the style of music is no surprise on this album as the electronics dominate throughout the album, though they manage to inject some variety with the soothing introductory piece as already described and later we're presented with some instrumental pieces that explore more ambient styles as well as keeping up the electro-pop beats.
All of these aforementioned elements combine to form this album. However, highlights for me continue to be the dominating dance-friendly pieces. The first of these that really comes out and hits hard is "The Speed of Life" with it's combination of classic synths with modern pulsating electronics joined with pounding beats. Felix lends his vocals once again on all of the vocal tracks for a smooth, melodic synthpop style. Some are a little heavier with more bass and a solid kick, the following piece "Phoenix" is a good example of this style that mixes perfectly with the rest of the album. The intensity really picks up with the club hit "Tanz Die Revolution" which even includes a slight techno touch a little like you might hear on a Reaper
album. This one definitely stands out as a stellar dance track that fans will be bouncing to for quite a while on club floors around the world.
These intense beats continue throughout much of the rest of the album with the exception of a few tracks. "Almond Flowers" features the dreamy ambient synths but in this case not as an instrumental but also includes some vocals which is fairly rare for this duo and a nice touch. As the album wraps up we get a little bit more of the variety as the intensity goes away and we're left with a couple of dreamy instrumental pieces to finalize the album with the exception of the extended version of "The Speed Of Life". "Close" brings the album to a close much the way we started with ghost whispers mixed amongst dreamy ambient synths for a nice ending.
Overall this is another great electronic album. They're able to stand out a bit from the crowd by doing what they do well and mixing it up a bit with everything from dreamy ambience to hard-edged driving beats.
Artificial - Review
From the remains of NamNamBulu
Vasi Vallis teams up with Diorama
artist Felix Marc for this new project and their excellent debut release Artificial
You can definitely hear bits and pieces of the talents of both of these artists and their other projects on this album. The disc features a dozen great new tracks that are created to keep the listener moving through the melodic synth loops and dance-friendly beats.
For this album the band really captures so many great styles and elements of the EBM and synthpop genres. They kick off the album with an upbeat, 80's style electronic, new wave track "Irony". While the actual synths used are comparable to modern artists, the overall feel really throws back to early Depeche Mode, Yazoo
. However, this seems to be more of the exception as far as styles and moods go for this album. We're quickly thrust into the modern synth and EBM genre with more melancholic feeling in the vocals and chords layered over a driving beat in "Crossroads". This actually becomes the more prominent mood and style throughout the rest of the album including the few instrumentals present including the next track "1980".
After the instrumental piece "1980" we're brought really down low into the depths of melancholy and despair with an onslaught of samples and emotional vocals and lyrics in "war/flashbacks". While the points presented are important and touching as well as the lyrical content, I'm glad the entire album isn't dedicated to something so deep and in many cases painful. However, the rebound to the pounding beats are delayed slightly as we're led through another ballad-like piece "a second of life". Despite the overall oppressive nature of the lyrics, the vocals and music becomes pretty uplifting through the soaring, yet dreamy synths and loops that make up this composition.
At this point the music gets back on track with the fast, pounding beats and driving, melodic synths for a few tracks through "a generation of the lost" after a slowly building introduction and then on through "home" and the excellent track "betrayed" present as a remix by the prominent electro-pop act Iris
. Presented as another instrumental interlude, "unborn faith" provides a short break with plenty of variety contained just in this one track. It's kind of like a real hodge podge of electronics coming all together into this one piece. And after that short break, we're back on the pounding shockwave of beats and driving synths once again as we move through "hypocrite" and "condense". Both of these come together as excellent synth pieces that any synthpop fan will love. This brings us to the final track on the album which is the "chillout extended version" of "a second of life". While this piece isn't my favorite from the album, it's a nice way to finalize it anyways, kind of winding down to a slow and final ending.
So, with that said, to sum it all up, this is a nice synthpop album. It may not be incredibly innovative (not much electronic music is these days, there are so many bands that all sound so similar), but they do manage to stand out as one that has captivated much of the best of the genre in this album. So I leave it on that positive note that for synth fans, this is one to definitely have in your collection.
Label: Metropolis Records
Label: Nilaihah Records