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Review: 'Empirion'

-  Label: 'Dependent'
-  Genre: 'Dance' -  Release Date: '23rd August 2019'

Our Rating:
23 years on from their last (and only other previous) full-length release, the dance duo consisting of Oz Morsley and Jamie Smart return.

The press release mentions how their 1996 debut, ‘Advanced Technology’, managed the rare feat of gaining respect from both the electronic dance and EBM/industrial scenes, and the fact
that their remix of The Prodigy’s hit single ‘Firestarter’ ‘turned out to be a timeless masterpiece that can still melt dancefloors more than two decades after it was released’. And needless to say, this is an album that’s ‘highly anticipated’. Of course it is. Not by me, since they bypassed me despite my eclectic tastes even in ’96, and not by anyone I know, but still.

I’m going to assume that this album ‘resumes’ where ‘Advanced Technology’ left off. The title track grinds in with some skittering beats and contrasts jittery oscillations with more expansive synths. It’s fuzzed with an edge of decay and distortion, but it’s got that clinical technoindustrial feel, so the end result is like hard metal but tarnished and rusted at the edges.

‘Resume’ segues into the harder-edged ‘S.E.T.i.’ that’s dominated by urgent, driving beats around which cyber synths swirl in a retrofuturist dystopia.

It doesn’t take the album long to lock into a form of hard, relentless grooves and snarling synth loops and if you dig the constant assault of throbbing bass and a pounding 140 or so BPM, with lyrics consisting of a single line repeated over the course of six or seven minutes, then you’ve got it made. In places, they go full-on rave with some harsh synth tweaks as on ‘Red Noise’ they land in ‘Higher State of Consciousness’ territory: less industrial, more out-and-out techno.

‘Resume’ packs no shortage of attack across its 11 tracks, and it sustains the hi-NRG all the way. But while it doesn’t exactly sound dated, it does sound familiar, and over the course of almost 80 minutes it does grow rather monotonous.

  author: Christopher Nosnibor

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