Aug 2017 04

Black Line - Treason, Sedition, and Subversive ActivitiesBlack Line
Category: Electro / Industrial / IDM
Album: Treason, Sedition, and Subversive Activities
Blurb: With a host of collaborators along for the ride, Douglas J. McCarthy and Cyrusrex embark on a new surreal journey of electronic experimentation that is as darkly unsettling as it is melodically engaging.


Drawing on a rich and accomplished history in modern electronic music, the debut album from Black Line – the duo of Douglas J. McCarthy and Cyrusrex – is as arresting a listening experience as one would expect. As neither musician has ever been one to languish in one particular musical style, the pair brings along a bevy of collaborators to create a densely layered and dynamic sound. Treason, Sedition, and Subversive Activities is as darkly sensual in its ambience as the title would suggest, juxtaposing lush and harmonious vocals with intricate and inspired programming.

One need look no further than a song like “No Crime” to understand Black Line’s modus operandi – skittering randomized sequences stem off from the washes of ambient pads in the preceding interlude lead to a bouncy bass line and pulsing dance beat, McCarthy’s smooth yet forceful vocals augmented by subtle touches of vocoder to make for a truly engaging track that evokes nighttime sojourns through surreal urban landscapes. Or take songs like “Big City” and “Shut It Down,” on which distorted and fluid synth lines amid swells of metallic shrieks underscore McCarthy’s throaty melodies, the catchy vocal refrains and stabs of guitar adding a funky vibe in the chorus of the latter track, while “Keep Digging” immediately struts through the speakers with an ominous bass line and McCarthy’s seductive and seething vocal menace erupting into an emotive high in the chorus, the interplay of synthesized and guitar noise adding to the song’s unsettling yet alluring atmosphere. “Sedition” begins the album with what could qualify as one of McCarthy’s most endearing vocal melodies, the chorus sure to get trapped in one’s head as surely as any of his past hits with Nitzer Ebb, while “Layers” builds from a quiet introductory interlude to a tensely rhythmic and desperately energetic track. Songs like “Snap” with its clamorous electronics and beats or “Can’t Breathe” with its droning, scathing electronics, steely guitars, and slow beat underscoring McCarthy’s bluesy and rhythmic delivery demonstrate a tougher, noisier industrial aspect to Black Line, and though “The Last Moment” lasts just shy of nine minutes, it instills in the listener a sense of anticipation and urgency with heavily manipulated ghostly vocals and feedback, as if constructed from the ambient randomness one experiences amid technological sprawl.

Black Line is clearly not afraid of experimentation, with virtually every electronic corner traversed – analog sequences that posses a retro quality amid tightly programmed rhythms and compositions that are as melodically engaging as they are surreally disconcerting, Treason, Sedition, and Subversive Activities is not easily categorized as elements of IDM, industrial, synthpop, ambient, and even rock are thrown into the mix. It’s a concoction that could only be brewed up by musicians with decades of pioneering experience and trailblazing behind them, unafraid to cast whatever stylistic stones they wish into the creative sea, only to have them return to shore as so thrilling album as this.
Track list:

  1. Sedition
  2. Losing You
  3. Keep Digging
  4. No Crime Prelude
  5. No Crime
  6. Snap
  7. Shut It Down
  8. Can’t Breathe
  9. Big City
  10. Layers Interlude
  11. Layers
  12. First Moment
  13. The Last Moment
  14. Changed [Venetian Snares Mix]

Black Line
Website, Facebook, SoundCloud, Bandcamp, YouTube
Purchase at:
Amazon MP3
Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)

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