Archive for the Electronica Category

Linkin Park – A Thousand Suns Review

Posted in Electronica, Rap/Hip-Hop, Rock/Alternative with tags , , , on September 23, 2010 by CruzerWpg

“A Thousand Suns” is a big bold album for Linkin Park.  It closely follows the nuclear warfare theme of 2007’s “Minutes to Midnight,” but correctly loses the U2 melodies and sonics that plagued the previous release.  This is Linkin Park at it’s finest;  without convention and without restraint.   However,  if you listen to the first single, “The Catalyst,” or any other track of the album, you might not hear it.  The album is just that, an album.  It is not a collection of songs.  It is one big peice of music – something that LP recognizes, and plans to release the album on iTunes as one track, 47 minutes and 56 seconds long.

“A Thousand Suns” is made up of 15 tracks, six of which are are under three minutes long and comprised of intrumental interludes or sound clips.  Recordings of Martin Luther King and atomic bomb developer  J. Robert Oppenheimer rise seamlessly amidst the layers of organic and technology-inspired sounds.  The most jarring moment of the album features a clean crisp recording of one of King’s emotionally-charged speeches.   His words are repeated, eventually being distorted until the emotion is gone -replaced by metallic screeching.  It begs the question: Do King’s words ring true as they once did, or have we (technology) replayed them and distorted them until the are monotonous and irrellevant?  Its a fair question, and a very subtle yet smart way of exploring the idea.

It is hard to review the album song by song, as each track plays a part in the overall picture, however standouts include ‘Burning in the Sky,’ ‘When They Come for Me,’ ‘Wretches and Kings’ and ‘The Catalyst.’  Even though the album is a collection of sounds and ideas, the noise speaks universally.  There are tribal beats, heart-shuddering basslines, raw rap verses, quiet acoustic moments and ear-shattering guitars and shouting.  It seems Linkin Park has made a album that transverses continents, cultures, and genres.  It’s fitting.  The scare of nuclear warfare knows no boundries, so neither does this piece of commentary and art. 

On a side note, forums and YouTube comments abound about how the band has lost it’s edge;  that they’ve gone soft.  It’s true that Linkin Park sounds nothing like the rap/rock band of ten years ago.  If they did, nobody would care.  Although, I challenge anyone to listen to the track “Wretches and Kings” off the new album and tell me it’s not hard enough for them.

BT- These Hopeful Machines Review

Posted in Electronica with tags , , , , , on February 18, 2010 by CruzerWpg

I first listened to These Hopeful Machines the day the album was released. That was a couple of weeks back, yet I held off writing about it till now.  The reason being,  the singles that were released prior to the album’s release had me salivating at the thought of new music from Brian Transeau, the dual disc album failed to impress me on first listen.  I really enjoyed the singles, “Suddenly” and “Every Other Way”.  They are the two best songs on the album, in my opinion.  It is this realization: that I had already heard the best the album had to offer before it’s release, that turned me off.

So today, I listened to the album again, hopefully with fresh ears.   “Suddenly” is still a killer track.  Glitchy beats, soaring guitars and mutilated vocals.  It is fresh exciting music.   “The Emergency”,  the second track on the first disc, turned me off.  It is too generic and too repeative.  BT is a pioneer.  This song is not the work of a pioneer.  “Every Other Way”, on the other hand, is an epic track.  The eleven minute song was built for a movie soundtrack, which may not be an outlandish remark considering BT’s work on film scores.  JES who BT collaborates with on “Every Other Way” and the following “The Light in Things”, has an amazing voice.  The element her vocals bring elavate the two songs.   “The Rose of Jericho” is this album’s “Flaming June” but the comparision is really unfair.  The original BT standout track is hardly touchable.  “Forget Me” is well, forgettable. 

Disc two starts off slower than the first disc with a collaboration with vocalist Kristy Hawkshaw, who BT has worked with on previous albums.  Her work on ‘Running Down the Way up” off BT’s Movement in Still Life was my favorite track from that album, so I had high expectations.  I didn’t remember anything great from the first listen, but on the second run I was drawn into the song alot more.  The song would not sound out of place on a Tiesto album.  “Love Can Kill You” and “Always” don’t offer much in the way of outstanding material, but “Le Nocturne de Lumière” (which my rough translation gives me Light in Darkness) evokes memories of BT’s  instrumental disc This Binary Universe.  ‘The Ghost in You”, a cover of The Psychdelic Furs is a good album closer, which wouldn’t sound out of place on BT’s Emotional Technology album.

By the time I had listened to the album again, I feel as though I could come to grips with my feelings.  I adore BT.  Brian Transeau is my favorite electronica artist, and someone who really fits the bill of an “artist”.  Throughout his work, I have felt as though he has been on the cusp of new sounds.  These Hopeful Machines unfortunately is a mixture of elements from his past work, with the exception of a few select tracks.  I like the sounds, but they don’t give me the same chill I felt when I listened to his previous work the first time.