Introducing the solo work of Stefan Poiss in the form of Mind.In.A.Box
. He has been producing music for video games for some time now and this is the first attempt at a solo music project. The name Mind.In.A.Box
comes from the mechanical world of video games and futuristic themes, but serves as a metaphor for "everything that prevents our minds from being truly free". With this idea and his knowledge of electronic music we have something new and interesting to enjoy.
2004 saw the release of the excellent debut album Lost Alone
. This release took the electronic world by storm with many of the big independent press magazines and DJ's naming the artist "newcomer of the year" and their album the best of 2004. There appeared a plethora of rave reviews with their new and interesting sound that just doesn't fit any one genre. In 2005 we were treated with the release of their sophomore album Dreamweb
which picks up right where the previous work left off. Never slowing down and always moving forward, Stefan continued to produce great music with 2007's Crossroads
and 2010's R.E.T.R.O.
which showed him broadening his styles but building on the original solid foundation present from the debut work. Continuing to release a new album every couple of years we were presented with Revelations
in 2012 and Memories
at the end of 2014.
The music of this project crosses many boundaries, but there are a few things that stand out as the strengths and foundation. While there are hundreds, if not thousands of electronic artists out there, Stev combines the emotional moodiness of Dark Wave with the intelligent synth structures of Synthpop and Technopop. The result is a dark and moody mixture of moving tracks.
We've been treated with a great discography from this project and it's possible we'll be presented with even more in years to come. For now, check out the reviews here, more information on the really nice official website and as always, plenty of music on Gothic Paradise Radio.
Memories - Review
It's been great to continue to receive new material from this band every couple of years.
This came out amidst hundreds of other end-of-year releases and got a bit lost in the crowd, but this is a band we still really enjoy and so we decided to go back and pick up this album and present our review here. As with other releases, there's a deep theme, a story running through the music and this one comes with a special treat with a lot of the story presented in the booklet in prose as well as with the lyrics of this album. Full details can be find in the liner notes and related links, for now for this review we'll focus on the music and how this all comes together into a nice album spanning thirteen excellent electronic tracks.
The album starts off with a mostly spoken word piece, an introduction to the album and to the story backed by haunting soundtrack music that slowly gives way to a powerful climax and leads us into the solid foundational sound of "I Knew". This piece features so many of the elements of this project we've really grown to love over the years from the high vocoded vocals to the subtle, yet moving beats backing the layers of electronic loops. The album moves along presenting a mix of these and other elements we've picked up over the years including the various vocal structures, variations in intensity across the various tracks and occasional mostly instrumental pieces.
Amongst this dynamic content we've definitely come to enjoy a few favorites including the previously mentioned "I Knew" and immediately following with "Unforgiving World". Readers that are also frequent listeners of our Club Mix radio show will no doubt recognize this pair of tracks as a couple of popular picks from us and our listeners. The mix of dark and heavy mixed with the high-pitched vocoded vocals creates a dynamic contrast that permeates the music on these and other pieces throughout the album. As we drift through "Synchronize", "Bad Dreams" and on to "Silent Pain" we go through a dynamic variation in vocals, song structure, rhythm and moods that really keep the album and music interesting. All portraying the emotional lyrics through the dynamic vocals that somehow through the cold and dark electronics allow the emotion to come through thick and palpable. From here the album drifts and meanders just a bit, while bits and pieces stand out, it's really not until we get to "Shakeup" towards the end that the real power comes out again behind the music and vocals. This piece is really mixed to be played loud and in so doing the full potentially really comes out.
At this point we're brought to the finale and conclusion to the album with more spoken word that once again brings us to a dynamic and powerful climax to close the album in with an exclamation point! Another great work from this artist and once again highly recommended as a great addition to our or any collection.
Revelations - Review
This is one of those projects I look forward to each release to see what twist or turn they might take, or if we just have a little bit more of their classic sound, it's always a treat.
This album continues on that tradition of dark, emotional but cold, highly manipulated electronic music. We get another ten solid tracks featuring another concept album like something out of a cyberpunk spy movie (ie. Tron, Dark City, The Matrix, etc.). All very well done and fun to listen to.
The album starts off with something a bit more mid-tempo with "Remember" and we some some of these slower, more somber pieces later on the album as well in "Transition" and in the pulsating rhythms of "Control" which features something of an anthem-like intensity from the vocals to the intensely layered synths. There are still plenty of moving dance-friendly tracks that should keep the clubs moving. As the album moves along, just over halfway through we hit "Unknown" featuring classic dance-friendly beats mixed with the high-pitched vocoded vocals we grew to love on the debut album. This style of music and vocals as well as the slower and deeper vocoded vocals really help to create that mysterious mood that's so enjoyable on these albums.
As the album starts to wind down with the final tracks, we also get to some of the best tracks as well. The emotion comes on strong through the mid-tempo piece "Not Afraid" featuring various levels of vocal manipulation and an excellent musical composition. "Second Reality" also comes on heavy with the pulsating electronics over the slower, somber beat providing the back-drop for the highly vocoded vocals. The album comes to a close with a nice finale "Sanctuary" which features an excellent mix of classic synthpop styles, with a dance-friendly beat to end the album with a bang.
With that it comes to a close, another remarkable work that fans new and old will really enjoy, so be sure to check it out.
R.E.T.R.O. - Review
This is a really fun concept album from this project that brings their unique style to be mixed with old-school Commodore 64 game themes.
There's no doubt that most musicians enjoy creating their music, but I imagine that doing a project like this disc had to be tons of fun, digging into the artists background of computer gaming and music making to create this very unique work. It comes with info on the album, credits to the original creators of many of the songs all packed together in a nice package with eleven moving electronic pieces.
At first I was really excited to hear of a new album from this artist, then I saw it was this type of concept album and I have to admit I was a little skeptical. Then I put it on and the first couple of tracks were better than I expected, but still basicly old-school game soundtracks on steroids. As the album moved along and I heard vocal pieces like "8 Bits", "The Last V8" and the excellent finale "Whatever Mattered", I was sold. Now as I've listened to it at least a dozen times, the instrumental themes are more an integral part of the album as a whole and I start to understand some of the comments and praise Stev gives to the original composers and creators.
With all of that said and credit given for the excellent work of putting this all together, for me it's still all about the excellent vocal and original works. Overall favorites from the album stand out with their rendition of "Lightforce", the catchy melody is accented by the solid bassline which is the real hook for me. The various bleeps and tweaks on the synths are fun on several tracks and seem to be a solid foundation for most of the instrumental pieces and that old-school analog synthesizer from three decades ago comes out strong. "8 Bits" is the single from the album and definitely stands out as a hit with that unique sound that we've grown to enjoy from this band with the high-pitched vocoded vocals over the analog synth structure. "I Love 64" comes out with the same style and structure for another favorite. "Whatever Mattered" is the finale to the album and takes a little different twist with something of a downtempo, moody feeling. It broods and moves slowly along building up slowly to a powerful climax of a myriad of electronics and deeper, solid vocals to wind down the album perfectly.
There you have it, something completely out of the ordinary, even for this artist and it's still captivating, fun and interesting. Highly recommended for fans old and new, especially those that love the old-school electronics and any geeks from the early computer days of the C-64.
Crossroads - Review
Keeping up with the intense release schedule we're presented here with the latest excellent album from this unique electronic music project.
Fans are going to love this disc as it continues to build on the solid foundation that we enjoyed just three years ago with the debut album. It's all here: a mixture of different styles of vocals from deep and heavy processed vocals to crisp and clear tenor and always included that higher robotic style, a solid electro-pop sound mixed with trance and dance-friendly beats. Spread out across thirteen excellent tracks, this album is a stellar piece of work.
As with the previous works we have a thematic album here with a story of a man beginning with "Introspection" which talks about waking up realizing that someone had tried to erase his memory, but the sleepwalkers had saved his mind. Again, thoughts of dark movies like Dark City
are evoked by the melancholy trance-laiden electro-pop music from this intro track and on through favorites like "Amnesia", "Identity", "Fear", "Stalkers" and so one.. practically every track on the album has become a favorite as I've listened to it over and over in the past weeks.
While the thematic approach is always very cool on each album, each track can still stand on it's own in the dance club or across the radio waves. The stellar dance beats and pulsating electronic loops provide the solid backdrop for each piece while vocals alternate between the different styles that Stev has been able to perfect over these years. One thing I did notice about this album is that his natural voice seems to come out on more tracks, pushing aside the robotic vocoded and processed vocals, like a transition, becoming more human though every album and track has always been loaded with pure emotion, cutting through the vocal processing and cold, unfeeling electronic sounds.
Once again, this is an excellent work that fans are going to love. Don't hesitate to get out and pick it up, because you won't regret it. If you enjoyed the first two, you'll love this one.
Dreamweb - Review
Few debut albums really take off and are as successful as Lost Alone
was for this unique artist. So it was with high expectations that press and DJs awaited the release of this sophomore album Dreamweb
Overall, the album has met expectations across the board in quality, duration and flow of the music and lyrics.
Following very closely on the heals of the debut in style and content, this album really delivers. You could easily put on both albums in a changer and listen to them consecutively and have the makings of a great series. The first track provides something of a segue from Lost Alone
with various spoken word parts and excerpts from the previous. The music kicks in and builds to slowly fade into the first single from this album and a highlight for me, "Certainty". Kicking off with the deep, moody vocals and subtle electronics, this track builds into a dynamic dance-friendly synth piece with a variety of processed vocals.
Speaking of processed vocals, besides the often dance-friendly beats, the unique variety of these vocoded and processed vocals is part of the trademark sound of this project and it comes out strong on this album. The vocal styles range from clear melodic bass vocals, including moody and deep mixed sometimes with a thundering bass, others include the mid-range processed and the awesome higher robotic sounding vocals. These latter vocals remind me so much of various movies where robots with emotions are the theme such as Blade Runner, I, Robot
, so often the same feelings and emotions that these movies brought out, this music touches on the same emotions and nerves.
"Lament for Lost Dreams" invokes these emotions and with the catchy processed robotic vocals. Unlike the debut album, this follow-up doesn't include as much of this type of processed vocals, but really has more of the deeper melodic and deep bass vocals. Mixed with the dancier tracks, much of the album turns into a nice treat for synthpop fans. There are enough unique twists and turns and a mixture of trancey techno that the range of fans really expands. The variety of music also expands a little more on this album including some hard-hitting tracks with grinding guitars or pulsating and driving bass.
Without going into detail for each track, that pretty much covers what's contained on this album. It's a great follow-up to the debut, while my personal preference lies slightly with the first, this one comes in at a very close second. It comes highly recommended for all fans of electronic music, if you haven't heard them yet, be sure to check them out.
Lost Alone - Review
With each new signing to Metropolis Records
and Dependent Record
, sometimes you take a chance when picking up their releases. When each of these labels are releasing five to ten new albums each month, it's hard to keep track of the really good ones and there are bound to be a few that you just would rather let slip by you.
So with this new project I just had to wait and see what it was like. Wow, was I surprised! I first listened to this album while I was out mowing my lawn and I was just carried away. I had to go inside and listen to it again and again and as I got into each track I found something new and interesting that I was really enjoying.
So many things in this album speak volumes to the audience. First you're presented with the artwork that is interesting, futuristic and cold. Just the title of the album Lost Alone
brings out the core element of this album. And the first track "Light & Dark" provides a great intro for what's on the rest of the album. Starting it all off is a high, vocoded robotic voice that manages to project emotion and loneliness so well. Then the deep, bass vocals come on repeating the same lyrics, but in that deep, rumbling fashion, bringing new life to the words.
The lyrics, which are contributed by Markus Hadwiger, are incredible. When you mix these intelligent lyrics with the four different types of vocals on this album, they just come to life. When you try and tell a story, there needs to be a lot of emotion to express each stage or experience, and so the mixture of lyrics, vocals and music pull it all together into one fantastic package. All of this is exhibited perfectly in "Change" which has quickly become a favorite of mine on this album. Most tracks are somewhat tranquile in nature, but this one builds up to a great dance track that's very catchy and moving, with great hooks that really pull the audience in. The mixture of two types of robotic vocals is a nice touch as well in expressing the emotion and power in the lyrics. "Falling" takes on a different twist, using deep and expressive vocals layered over a hypnotic trancey rhythm and electronic loops that bring to life the lyrics which explain a common dream of falling, not feeling, not knowing where or why, but just falling in the dark.
"You Will See" becomes the first solid mid-tempo track that doesn't vary in intensity. In fact it becomes a nice ballad that is dreamy in many ways, but maintains that solid electronic foundation. This then gives way to the experimental sounds of "Questions" which brings together incredibly deep vocals, driving beats and other unique experimental elements. More experimental elements are present in the following track "Waiting" with it's spoken word samples used almost as background noise to the hypnotic music. The title track "Lost Alone" really delves into the robotic feelings as the vocals become almost unintelligible because of the amount of sampling they go through.
All of this builds up to my favorite track "Walking" that brings to life that emotional Dark Wave feeling while still maintaining the futuristic mechanical styles. The pulsating bass on this track becomes a stellar and solid part of this track, but the lyrics are what creates the entire mood as the robotic voice speaks out "I'm sad, so terribly sad. I'm grieving about the things I had". While the remaining tracks are excellent in many ways, they just don't seem to live up to "Walking" and "Change", although the finale to this album "Leave" comes close. This becomes the only track where the vocals don't seem to be processed in any way, just plain, crisp, clear and as a very nice tenor. This final track is a great way to wrap an excellent album. I highly recommend this to anyone that has every enjoyed any type of Synthpop or the moodier Dark Wave music.
Label: Metropolis Records
Dependent Records - www.dependent-records.de