MiXE1 - Module 02
Electrorock, Synthpop MiXE1 is the solo project of Mike Evans and 'Module 02' is his sophomore EP. My first impression is that the songwriting is really quite strong, with very well crafted verses and choruses, but the production sounds very raw, almost too much on the "demo" sounding side of things, rather than raw in a characteristic way. Yet there is something quite charming about the mood of mournful melancholy that Evans sets here, and its hard to deny the pop sensibility that he possesses.

The opening song, "This Is Not Goodbye" really introduces the listener to what Evans's style is all about - mixing synths, acoustic drums and chugtastic guitar riffs into a futuristic blend with a strong pop-meets-alternative rock feel, but heavy on the synth side, a bit like Linkin Park's more recent releases.

"Your Heart's The Beat" is a continuation of this theme, but pushing it more towards a synth-pop feel and I am reminded here a bit of mind.in.a.box's melancholy synthpop sound. The selection of synth sounds evoke an almost video-game like quality, but not the harsh rawness of 8-bit bleeps - more like the later synthesised sounds of video games in the mid to late '90s.

A minor criticism comes to my mind at this point of the EP's synth-rock attempt, which is the choice for some of the synth sounds. The melodies are great, but the lead sounds themselves come across a bit too plain and factory-preset sounding.
Also, the guitar is not as "in your face" as the riffs are wanting to be, often pushed too far back into the mix to really shine. The drum samples are nothing too special, but they get the job done, sticking to a more natural feel as if a drummer were playing them live, rather than the structured, perfectly quantised drum programming usually found in industrial music.

The vocal melodies are great, and quite catchy, interspersed with screamed lines that are evocative of Chester Bennington from Linkin Park, but every now and then the singing does not seem to come across strong enough to do justice to the melodies that are being sung. This seems particularly relevant in "Do You Know", the third song, which is a hugely epic synth-rock song trying to come through, yet doesn't quite fully meet the potential it contains. I feel this is where Evans' limitations as a singer become most apparent, as a bit more force in delivery would have improved the listening experience where the vocals are concerned.

The effects on the vocals perfectly suit the soft voice that Evans possesses to really embed them into the dream-like soundscapes he is creating here in this EP. This is most apparent on the fourth track, the more down-tempo, almost ballad-like "Never Been Gone", as well as the second version of "This is Not Goodbye (Piano Version)" which closes the EP on a more reflective note.

This so-called "Piano Version" is where Evans' style of vocal delivery seems much better suited. This final track is surprisingly beautiful and a very different take from the first version. This is no acoustic piano rendition of the first song - it's a distorted, yet synth and reverb-soaked retelling of the song that sounds very different from the original (and even better, in my opinion). The pad synths here are utterly gorgeous and I was left with a beautifully mournful, bittersweet taste after the song was over, immediately wanting to listen to it again. It reminded me almost of some of the better futurepop acts out there. In these last two tracks, Evans proves he is much stronger in the synthpop style than in the synth-rock sound he opens the EP with.

I started out feeling quite unsure about this EP, and yet by the end of it, I found myself pleasantly surprised by Evans's strengths being displayed more prominently and all the elements coming together much more harmoniously. Not a single song here comes across as poor songwriting, in fact quite the opposite, and the mixing and mastering is definitely good enough to not raise any eyebrows. However, sometimes some of the limitations of being a one-man act can show through in the weaker links of the chain.

Overall though, I am left with a good impression after this EP and it bodes well for Evans's future releases that his blossoming ability as a songwriter is definitely on display here in this very likable set of songs, some of which you'll be sure to want to revisit more than just once.

It's not without it's faults, but this is a decent release full of heart and I'm looking forward to hearing more material from Mike Evans in the future.
3
Brutal Resonance

MiXE1 - Module 02

MiXE1 is the solo project of Mike Evans and 'Module 02' is his sophomore EP. My first impression is that the songwriting is really quite strong, with very well crafted verses and choruses, but the production sounds very raw, almost too much on the "demo" sounding side of things, rather than raw in a characteristic way. Yet there is something quite charming about the mood of mournful melancholy that Evans sets here, and its hard to deny the pop sensibility that he possesses.

The opening song, "This Is Not Goodbye" really introduces the listener to what Evans's style is all about - mixing synths, acoustic drums and chugtastic guitar riffs into a futuristic blend with a strong pop-meets-alternative rock feel, but heavy on the synth side, a bit like Linkin Park's more recent releases.

"Your Heart's The Beat" is a continuation of this theme, but pushing it more towards a synth-pop feel and I am reminded here a bit of mind.in.a.box's melancholy synthpop sound. The selection of synth sounds evoke an almost video-game like quality, but not the harsh rawness of 8-bit bleeps - more like the later synthesised sounds of video games in the mid to late '90s.

A minor criticism comes to my mind at this point of the EP's synth-rock attempt, which is the choice for some of the synth sounds. The melodies are great, but the lead sounds themselves come across a bit too plain and factory-preset sounding.
Also, the guitar is not as "in your face" as the riffs are wanting to be, often pushed too far back into the mix to really shine. The drum samples are nothing too special, but they get the job done, sticking to a more natural feel as if a drummer were playing them live, rather than the structured, perfectly quantised drum programming usually found in industrial music.

The vocal melodies are great, and quite catchy, interspersed with screamed lines that are evocative of Chester Bennington from Linkin Park, but every now and then the singing does not seem to come across strong enough to do justice to the melodies that are being sung. This seems particularly relevant in "Do You Know", the third song, which is a hugely epic synth-rock song trying to come through, yet doesn't quite fully meet the potential it contains. I feel this is where Evans' limitations as a singer become most apparent, as a bit more force in delivery would have improved the listening experience where the vocals are concerned.

The effects on the vocals perfectly suit the soft voice that Evans possesses to really embed them into the dream-like soundscapes he is creating here in this EP. This is most apparent on the fourth track, the more down-tempo, almost ballad-like "Never Been Gone", as well as the second version of "This is Not Goodbye (Piano Version)" which closes the EP on a more reflective note.

This so-called "Piano Version" is where Evans' style of vocal delivery seems much better suited. This final track is surprisingly beautiful and a very different take from the first version. This is no acoustic piano rendition of the first song - it's a distorted, yet synth and reverb-soaked retelling of the song that sounds very different from the original (and even better, in my opinion). The pad synths here are utterly gorgeous and I was left with a beautifully mournful, bittersweet taste after the song was over, immediately wanting to listen to it again. It reminded me almost of some of the better futurepop acts out there. In these last two tracks, Evans proves he is much stronger in the synthpop style than in the synth-rock sound he opens the EP with.

I started out feeling quite unsure about this EP, and yet by the end of it, I found myself pleasantly surprised by Evans's strengths being displayed more prominently and all the elements coming together much more harmoniously. Not a single song here comes across as poor songwriting, in fact quite the opposite, and the mixing and mastering is definitely good enough to not raise any eyebrows. However, sometimes some of the limitations of being a one-man act can show through in the weaker links of the chain.

Overall though, I am left with a good impression after this EP and it bodes well for Evans's future releases that his blossoming ability as a songwriter is definitely on display here in this very likable set of songs, some of which you'll be sure to want to revisit more than just once.

It's not without it's faults, but this is a decent release full of heart and I'm looking forward to hearing more material from Mike Evans in the future. Aug 25 2012

Zac Phoenix

info@brutalresonance.com
Writer and contributor on Brutal Resonance

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