Fearless Synthpop, EBM Legend Fear . less (adj): without fear; bold or brave; intrepid. Flying in the face of the contemporary musical paradigm is one of two things - reckless, or bold. Sure, people do it all of the time. Most of the time nobody gets it, we rarely hear about them again. Yet in this case, there's so much hype surrounding this record that you'd be forgiven for comparing it to the second coming. Why? The whole premise is entirely implausible. A pair of Icelandic musicians, Krummi Björgvinsson and Halldor Björnsson decide that they want to branch out dramatically from their country rock outfit Esja. The album that spawns from this sudden change of aesthetic leaves critics stunned - by both its musical maturity and sheer audacity. Reviewers the world over scrambled to define it, heaped every successful musician of the last three decades into the "influences" list, and almost universally praised it as a defining moment of the year. Let's see why : The first taste we get is the intro, "Amazon War", a majestic masterpiece of sound exploration. If the entire album was full of music of this calibre, I would not hesitate for a moment before stamping "Album of the Year" all over it. You really have to hear it to believe how such a diverse range of sounds can mesh so effortlessly into a mesmerising sonic utopia - there's mystically charged guttural vocals, thundering cinematic percussion, soaring synths and a massive build-up that you could found an empire on. The second track "Benjamite Bloodline" begins with a bristling analog synth line that would have Bob Moog grinning from ear to ear. It's raw, it's harmonious, it's throbbing with energy. A piano appears behind it all, sitting crisply amongst its mechanised descendants. By the time the vocals kick in, there is a very palpable sense that this album is something truly meaningful - a musical riddle that is equal parts inspiration and enigma. By the third track "City" the Depeche Mode influences are coming to the forefront. Everything from the slightly gritty vocals to the crisp 80's beats conspire to convince the listener that it's all crackling warmly from a platter of heavy 12" vinyl. "Sudden Stop" is synth pop of the highest order, but colder, darker. The vocals really shine here, cutting through the incisive synths with equal parts confidence and emotion. This is timeless music that won't sit still long enough to be defined. "Violence" could have been written by Nick Cave, "Fearless" by Soft Cell, any of them by Depeche Mode. If you listen hard enough you'll hear anything - Phil Collins, Pink Floyd, Jean Michel Jarre? Sure. But everyone is jumping up to compare this music to artists who reached their zenith decades ago, and yet... this sound is so fresh. It's immaculately produced, insightful music that deserves to be listened to very attentively. There's an elusive layer of subtlety lurking in the black background - it just doesn't lend itself to casual listening in the same way that a harshly compressed club hit might. There is a reason that reviewers the world over are throwing around famous names like confetti in a desperate attempt to define this music. That's an exercise in futility. What is it? It's synths, musical instruments and a guy singing. It's brilliant. 550
Brutal Resonance

Legend - Fearless

Fear . less (adj): without fear; bold or brave; intrepid.

Flying in the face of the contemporary musical paradigm is one of two things - reckless, or bold. Sure, people do it all of the time. Most of the time nobody gets it, we rarely hear about them again. Yet in this case, there's so much hype surrounding this record that you'd be forgiven for comparing it to the second coming. Why?

The whole premise is entirely implausible. A pair of Icelandic musicians, Krummi Björgvinsson and Halldor Björnsson decide that they want to branch out dramatically from their country rock outfit Esja. The album that spawns from this sudden change of aesthetic leaves critics stunned - by both its musical maturity and sheer audacity. Reviewers the world over scrambled to define it, heaped every successful musician of the last three decades into the "influences" list, and almost universally praised it as a defining moment of the year. Let's see why :

The first taste we get is the intro, "Amazon War", a majestic masterpiece of sound exploration. If the entire album was full of music of this calibre, I would not hesitate for a moment before stamping "Album of the Year" all over it. You really have to hear it to believe how such a diverse range of sounds can mesh so effortlessly into a mesmerising sonic utopia - there's mystically charged guttural vocals, thundering cinematic percussion, soaring synths and a massive build-up that you could found an empire on.

The second track "Benjamite Bloodline" begins with a bristling analog synth line that would have Bob Moog grinning from ear to ear. It's raw, it's harmonious, it's throbbing with energy. A piano appears behind it all, sitting crisply amongst its mechanised descendants. By the time the vocals kick in, there is a very palpable sense that this album is something truly meaningful - a musical riddle that is equal parts inspiration and enigma.

By the third track "City" the Depeche Mode influences are coming to the forefront. Everything from the slightly gritty vocals to the crisp 80's beats conspire to convince the listener that it's all crackling warmly from a platter of heavy 12" vinyl.

"Sudden Stop" is synth pop of the highest order, but colder, darker. The vocals really shine here, cutting through the incisive synths with equal parts confidence and emotion. This is timeless music that won't sit still long enough to be defined.

"Violence" could have been written by Nick Cave, "Fearless" by Soft Cell, any of them by Depeche Mode. If you listen hard enough you'll hear anything - Phil Collins, Pink Floyd, Jean Michel Jarre? Sure. But everyone is jumping up to compare this music to artists who reached their zenith decades ago, and yet... this sound is so fresh. It's immaculately produced, insightful music that deserves to be listened to very attentively. There's an elusive layer of subtlety lurking in the black background - it just doesn't lend itself to casual listening in the same way that a harshly compressed club hit might.

There is a reason that reviewers the world over are throwing around famous names like confetti in a desperate attempt to define this music. That's an exercise in futility. What is it? It's synths, musical instruments and a guy singing. It's brilliant.
Dec 21 2012

Julian Nichols

info@brutalresonance.com
Writer and contributor on Brutal Resonance

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Started in spring 2009, Brutal Resonance quickly grew from a Swedish based netzine into an established International zine of the highest standard.

We cover genres like Synthpop, EBM, Industrial, Dark Ambient, Neofolk, Darkwave, Noise and all their sub- and similar genres.

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