Themes for a Collapsing Empire Electro-Industrial UNITCODE:MACHINE Considering that this is the first time we've reviewed unitcode:machine on the site, I think it's only appropriate to talk a bit about the history of the band. Started in 2000 by Texas native Eric Kristoffer, he crafted his own style of electro-industrial by both drawing inspiration from other artists and by changing up his sound from album to album. unitcode:machine's 2004 debut album utilized elements of musique concrete and synthpop, with their follow up album "Know" having a more conventional set-up. 2011's "Nosophobia" tapped into the popular genres of the time, futurepop and harsh EBM, that Kristoffer was heavily into at the time. unitcode:machine took an eight year hiatus afterwards in which Kristoffer worked on both himself and his writing. Thus, "Tyranny" was born in 2019 focusing on "the vitriol of modern media and political climate". After a release containing material cut from "Tyranny" launched in 2020, unitcode:machine launched their 2021 album "Themes for a Collapsing Empire"."Themes For A Collapsing Empire", then, is a nine track album that is described as a project that's written less from the perspective of unitcode:machine and more from Eric Kristoffer as a person. The album dives into dancefloor territory on most of the songs leaving a fun and frenetic, if not a little repetitious, joyous album. Themes for a Collapsing Empire by unitcode:machineAfter glitchy electronics and percussion plays for around ten seconds, 'Fight' comes in strong as a guitar backed electro-industrial stomper. It's everything you would expect from unitcode:machine, with some synthpop-influenced chorus sections that are brighter and bouncier. 'This Collapse' brings the pace back a little but generally follows dancefloor guidelines with intense synthesizers, booming percussion, and emotional lyrics. I appreciated the harsh EBM backing vocals; it gives that track an otherwise rougher edge. While I enjoyed 'Falling Down', I couldn't find much unique about the song that made it stand out as much as the previous two. 'Silence The Noise' allows the percussive elements to takeover more than previous; chaotic spasms of drum pads mixed with equally pleasurable synths fed my ear candy. I have similar feelings about 'Lose It All' as I do 'Falling Down'; it's enjoyable, but there's not much to say about it other than that it's a unitcode:machine track. 'Buy Me Now' plays with experimental notes and sounds; what sounds like a robot on the fritz plays in the background and adds unique texture to the song. 'The Airman and the Atom Bomb' is one of the standout tracks on "Themes for a Collapsing Empire". What it does so well is it allows breathing room for each of the sounds on the track; take, for example the section that begins around the thirty-six second mark. For a stretch of twenty-three seconds, I was able to enjoy the simplicity of backing instrumentals and the plucks of synthesizer notes. It was beautiful. Seeing unitcode:machine throw out the usual four-on-the-floor routine for something that's atmospheric is refreshing. The fun doesn't stop there as the following track, 'Drift Away', features CHIASM. Co-written and sung by the artist, 'Drift Away' is a beautiful track that sees unitcode:machine once again strip away the dense dance layers for a serene and harmonic track. The final song on the album, 'Time Conquers All', is another denser club track filled with glitchy sounding electronics and synthpop influence. There is a lot right on unitcode:machine's "Themes for a Collapsing Empire"; obviously, the project knows how to write a club banger with ease. There's plenty of them on the album, though some are better than others. What I think "Themes" could have benefitted from, however, is better pacing. Two of the most unique songs on the album, 'The Airman and the Atom Bomb' and 'Drift Away (feat. CHIASM)' are located back to back. I believe that if unitcode:machine had put one of these songs as track four and another around track seven, breaking apart the constant dancefloor mechanics of the first six tracks on the album, then there would have been better flow. Also, I would have liked to hear some tracks deviate more from one another; the dancefloor tracks are good, but some are a bit stale such as Falling Down' and 'Lost It All'. Nonetheless, I can't deny that I have a damned good time with each listen on "Themes for a Collapsing Empire". And, for that, I give it a seven out of ten! This review was commissioned through our Ko-fi page. 450
Brutal Resonance

UNITCODE:MACHINE - Themes for a Collapsing Empire

7.0
"Good"
Released off label 2021
Considering that this is the first time we've reviewed unitcode:machine on the site, I think it's only appropriate to talk a bit about the history of the band. Started in 2000 by Texas native Eric Kristoffer, he crafted his own style of electro-industrial by both drawing inspiration from other artists and by changing up his sound from album to album. unitcode:machine's 2004 debut album utilized elements of musique concrete and synthpop, with their follow up album "Know" having a more conventional set-up. 2011's "Nosophobia" tapped into the popular genres of the time, futurepop and harsh EBM, that Kristoffer was heavily into at the time. unitcode:machine took an eight year hiatus afterwards in which Kristoffer worked on both himself and his writing. Thus, "Tyranny" was born in 2019 focusing on "the vitriol of modern media and political climate". After a release containing material cut from "Tyranny" launched in 2020, unitcode:machine launched their 2021 album "Themes for a Collapsing Empire".

"Themes For A Collapsing Empire", then, is a nine track album that is described as a project that's written less from the perspective of unitcode:machine and more from Eric Kristoffer as a person. The album dives into dancefloor territory on most of the songs leaving a fun and frenetic, if not a little repetitious, joyous album. 



After glitchy electronics and percussion plays for around ten seconds, 'Fight' comes in strong as a guitar backed electro-industrial stomper. It's everything you would expect from unitcode:machine, with some synthpop-influenced chorus sections that are brighter and bouncier. 'This Collapse' brings the pace back a little but generally follows dancefloor guidelines with intense synthesizers, booming percussion, and emotional lyrics. I appreciated the harsh EBM backing vocals; it gives that track an otherwise rougher edge. While I enjoyed 'Falling Down', I couldn't find much unique about the song that made it stand out as much as the previous two. 

'Silence The Noise' allows the percussive elements to takeover more than previous; chaotic spasms of drum pads mixed with equally pleasurable synths fed my ear candy. I have similar feelings about 'Lose It All' as I do 'Falling Down'; it's enjoyable, but there's not much to say about it other than that it's a unitcode:machine track. 'Buy Me Now' plays with experimental notes and sounds; what sounds like a robot on the fritz plays in the background and adds unique texture to the song. 

'The Airman and the Atom Bomb' is one of the standout tracks on "Themes for a Collapsing Empire". What it does so well is it allows breathing room for each of the sounds on the track; take, for example the section that begins around the thirty-six second mark. For a stretch of twenty-three seconds, I was able to enjoy the simplicity of backing instrumentals and the plucks of synthesizer notes. It was beautiful. Seeing unitcode:machine throw out the usual four-on-the-floor routine for something that's atmospheric is refreshing. The fun doesn't stop there as the following track, 'Drift Away', features CHIASM. Co-written and sung by the artist, 'Drift Away' is a beautiful track that sees unitcode:machine once again strip away the dense dance layers for a serene and harmonic track. The final song on the album, 'Time Conquers All', is another denser club track filled with glitchy sounding electronics and synthpop influence. 

There is a lot right on unitcode:machine's "Themes for a Collapsing Empire"; obviously, the project knows how to write a club banger with ease. There's plenty of them on the album, though some are better than others. What I think "Themes" could have benefitted from, however, is better pacing. Two of the most unique songs on the album, 'The Airman and the Atom Bomb' and 'Drift Away (feat. CHIASM)' are located back to back. I believe that if unitcode:machine had put one of these songs as track four and another around track seven, breaking apart the constant dancefloor mechanics of the first six tracks on the album, then there would have been better flow. Also, I would have liked to hear some tracks deviate more from one another; the dancefloor tracks are good, but some are a bit stale such as 
Falling Down' and 'Lost It All'. Nonetheless, I can't deny that I have a damned good time with each listen on "Themes for a Collapsing Empire". And, for that, I give it a seven out of ten! 

This review was commissioned through our Ko-fi page.
Sep 05 2021

Off label

Official release released by the artist themselves without the backing of a label.

Steven Gullotta

info@brutalresonance.com
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.

Share this review

Facebook
Twitter
Google+
0
Shares

Buy this release

Bandcamp

Related articles

Implant - 'Implantology'

Review, May 27 2009

XMH - 'State of Mind'

Review, Jul 12 2010

Soundgazer - 'Two Graves'

Review, Dec 29 2015

Shortly about us

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.

© Brutal Resonance 2009-2016
Designed by and developed by Head of Mímir 2016