Psy'Aviah - Bittersweet (Bonus Version)
Released 2022 by Alfa-Matrix
This review was commissioned through Ko-fi. However, it bears no weight on the score or decision. All reviews are written from an unbiased standpoint.
Twenty years. Twenty years is a long ass time. It’s just enough time to become a young adult – one that’s new and probably nervous in a very-well established world, but a young adult, nonetheless. For a majority of us, it’s probably a quarter of the life we’ll wind up spending on Earth. For others, it’s the amount of time they’ve allocated to a passion project or an artistic endeavor. That is the case for Psy’Aviah as the established multi-genre electronic producer is celebrating his twentieth anniversary in as big a way as possible. Rather than just posting a gimmicky photo on social media thanking fans and then moving forward, Psy’Aviah has released what is arguably their largest and most ambitious album to date. I do speak of “Bittersweet” when I say this, but just not the original version. I’m talking about the extended version found on Bandcamp.
This massive collection of singles sees Psy’Aviah produce a brand-new, original album that wraps up the trilogy that began with ‘Lightflare’ and ‘Soul Searching’. However, on top of “Bittersweet” comes an additional (and what would traditionally be considered three CDs worth) thirty-some tracks filled with remixes, covers, and the like. The result is gigantic ride that pays off with both quantity and quality being substantial and worth the listen.
Before I begin this review, however, I would like to mention one thing. As with most reviews containing fifteen or more songs (in this case, forty-two) I cannot and will not be able to cover every single song on the release. That would be a redundant effort. Therefore, I’ll be highlighting what I loved about the album and what I wasn’t so hot on in a condensed effort, at least in comparison to the size of the release. In any event, here we go.
I’m going to start with the original songs Psy’Aviah produced and I’ll also be starting off with a bit of a cheat. A cheat, I say, as I’ve already reviewed the single. Nonetheless, it certainly deserves another mention. The rediscovered version of ‘Tired’ – which is essentially a remake of an older Psy’Aviah song – featuring Addie Nicole is a brilliant track that has a bit of an early 2000s pop punk / pop rock vibe belted under a sweet synthpop scenario. Not to mention the excellent guitar solo that happens in it. It’s been on steady rotation ever since I first heard it and it’ll probably stay that way for a long while.
I also fell in love with ‘The Wilderness In Me’ featuring Eli Rho. This electropop ballad has a lot going for it from the get-go, including a wonderful four-on-the-floor dance rhythm complete with electronic sounds from the future. When Rho comes in with her pop-laden vocals I was floored by the finished and complete product. Psy’Aviah is also wonderful in giving plenty of breaks in between both the chorus and verse so we, as an audience, can appreciate his instrumentals. The final song I’d love to give a special mention to would be ‘Can We Make It Rhyme’ which features Mari Kattman of HELIX. For a long time I’ve been a fan of Mari Kattman’s voice as whatever she’s involved in simply soars to great heights. Pairing her together with Psy’Aviah is simply a wondrous work of deep bass fascination.
One of the few songs that I wasn’t keen on would be ‘Turn Up The Stereo’ featuring Lumí. To keep the explanation short, I felt as if the auto-tuned sounding vocals didn’t match the rhythm of the song too well. I do believe, however, that both the vox and the upbeat electropop beats sound decent on their own, they just don’t mesh well together. In order to prevent repeating myself, I had similar feelings for ‘Healing’ featuring Tina Forlorn of Sorrow Stories.
The next section I’ll be taking a look at is the remix section of “Bittersweet”. You can find these songs in the tracklist by simply looking for the prefix “Psy’Aviah vs.” followed by another artist’s name. Quite honestly, one of the first remixes I came across was one the best on the album. And that would be Dissonance’s take on ‘Into The Game’. This crunchy electronic dance song takes inspiration from industrial in the bassline with some shouty vocals mixed in between. Well done on both ends. Another remix that I heavily appreciated comes from People Theatre who provide a “12 Inch Club Remix” of ‘Monoculture’. Featuring the wonderful Mari Kattman once more, this song has a fun little bassline that plays along during the quieter moments. Between every chorus section, the song slowly builds back up into an electronic dance crescendo, slowly adding in elements until the climax.
Implant’s spin on ‘In Silence’ wasn’t much to my liking. I felt as if the drums just didn’t hit that hard and were wiped out by the upfront acid techno influences. The decision to make the vocals completely washed out was also an odd choice, and one that I wasn’t too fond of.
Now, the final section on the album to discuss is the cover section. However, it isn’t Psy’Aviah covering someone else’s song. Rather, it’s other musicians covering a range of Psy’Aviah’s songs from his back catalogue. Again, one of the first covers that I stumbled upon absolutely blew me away. Neoclassical / darkwave singer / songwriter Madil Hardis has been knocking me out with her singles lately. This is another track that simply floored me. I apologize to Psy’Aviah in advance, but I think she blew his original version out of the water with her version. Her voice is impeccable and this slow, ambient, piano ballad is absolutely gorgeous. Brilliant work from her.
Leaether Strip does a take on ‘The Worst In Me’. I shouldn’t have to say much more than that, but I will. This stompy turnover features plenty of somewhat ominous sounding synths and Larsen’s classic angry whispering vocals paired with his spoken word resentment. What we get is Psy’Aviah goes EBM and it’s easy to see how the normally brighter dance formula can be turned into a darker, energetic ballad. All thanks to Mr. Larsen. Well done!
IC 434’s take on ‘Anger Management’ didn’t do too much for me. While the cover isn’t that bad, it sounds like a very bland and generic dark electro track that I’ve heard a million times before. I felt as if this cover needed something more to make it unique.
Spinning “Bittersweet” four times in a row has been a daunting task, to say the very least. But it is not one that goes unrewarded as the treasure trove of dance worthy electronics is worth the investment. What it also does is encourage listeners to explore Psy’Aviah’s universe a bit more closely to discover what they’ve missed out on in the past. Potentially, they’ll see what an evolution this project has gone under throughout the years. And, it might even show how gradual education and passion can make a hobby all the sweeter. Eight out of ten! Solid.
Apr 11 2022
I've been writing for Brutal Resonance since November of 2012 and now serve as the editor-in-chief. I love the dark electronic underground and usually have too much to listen to at once but I love it. I am also an editor at Aggressive Deprivation, a digital/physical magazine since March of 2016. I support the scene as much as I can from my humble laptop.
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Psy'Aviah - Lightflare is available at POPONAUT from 20,95€