Nov 2012 08

Cryogenic Echelon - AntipodeCryogenic Echelon
Category: Dubstep / Electro
Album: Antipode
Stars: 3.5
Blurb: From a primordial soup of electronic concepts emerges an album in equal parts straightforward and defying categorization.


 

After evacuating himself from a sinking ship of a label, Australian Gerry Hawkins – acting under the banner of Cryogenic Echelon – hopes to begin anew with Antipode, an album that plays out like both a long playing original release and a collective remix effort. There’s an obvious and tedious lack of overlaying coherence to the proceedings and a constant attempt to offset it by consistent dynamism of the musical microstructures. So while there is plenty to enjoy on Cryogenic Echelon’s latest, the album is never quite the sum of its individual parts.

The opening is truly befitting a collection that spans 21 tracks and on the “Overture,” entrancing choir together with delicate reverberating chime-like sounds and shyly emerging beats herald a mixture of styles that is as modern as it is celestial. This initial epic buildup doesn’t quite define Antipode’s overall character. On “The Red Serpent,” the mash-up of vibrant electronica and eclectic vocals shifts towards dynamic ambient and the musical properties of each subsequent track cannot be predicted based solely on the song that precedes it. Still, despite the sheer number of acts and remixes that make up Antipode, there is one overriding aesthetic that gels the material together, even if the façade of thematic coherency is the first victim of Cryogenic Echelon’s reluctance to trim album’s bloated running time. A sizeable portion of this offering surrenders to the electronic scene’s most recent infatuation with Skrillex-esque dubstep orchestration and those particular elements appear to structure a number of songs on Antipode. It is down to the artistic prowess of Cryogenic Echelon and their collaborators that most tracks are successfully enriched by hints of other genres. “I’m Famous” opens with a strong electro bounce that organically transforms into a vortex of rhythmic glitches and back. “You’re Still Lonely” carries a relaxed SKA vibe that patiently sways in between outbursts of beeps, and the killer “We Are Many,” sung sweetly by Holly Ford, brings back a fondness of long doomed euro-dance routines that, albeit corny, always carry some indefinably feel good ingredient.

Beyond those, the club-destined hits that make up large majority of Cryogenic Echelon’s output appear to be inspired by the comprehensive approach of Celldweller’s Klayton with tracks like “Falling Skies” and “Demigod” being suspiciously reminiscent of the most recognizable tropes of his work. With a number of signature distortion tactics, emotionally charged vocals, and rapid explosions of breakneck beats in place, the Aussie act’s music is often strongly evocative of Klayton’s style and amplified further by the precision of mixing, the tendency to shift moods within the space of one track, and even the characteristic texture of dubstep beats and fuzzes. Uberbyte, riding the wave of their newly found sound, remixes the same track with a characteristic verve and inclination towards danceable and accessible, techno-derived stylizations but in their case, the track’s extended length works against the flow of the song, recycling the same segments instead of effortlessly shifting from tone to tone. Among the last of notably varying electronic moods on display throughout the album are deliberately paced, atmospheric compositions like the chilling “Pieces of Eden” that in truly mysterious fashion invites the listener to explore the previously uncharted territories of swooping synthesized melodies that patiently outlast an urge for an explosive hook and perpetually mesmerize.

Antipode is an album of undeniable scope, even if it’s not because it actually encompasses a variety of vastly different approaches to electro energy. While the majority of both remixes and Hawkins’ original material oscillates around the same contemporary trends in electronic music, there is a good chance that among the truly epic tracks, each listener will be able to pick up unique and personal favorites. Alas, some elements of Antipode should have been scratched entirely for the sake of the album’s more organic progress (the cover of the Final Fantasy X soundtrack is a cute but empty exercise) and there’s a disappointing permuting sense of chaos that detracts from the quality of its highlights. If you approach it patiently though, ready to sift through the sandbox that is Antipode, you will not leave empty handed but rewarded with a number of memorable, enlivening melodies, programmed with technical flair and, to large extent, emotional resonance.
 
Track list:

  1. Overture
  2. The Red Serpent
  3. We Are Many (feat. AJ Afterparty & Holly Ford)
  4. I’m Famous (feat. Studio-X)
  5. This May be Fun
  6. Substance D (feat. Project 2)
  7. Twisted Brats
  8. Blackout
  9. The Grey (feat. Studio-X)
  10. Pieces of Eden
  11. Shinigami
  12. Demigod (feat. Sleepless)
  13. You’re Still Lonely (feat. Studio-X, Sabine Snaps & Marton Veress)
  14. Demigod (Charter Square Remix by Uberbyte)
  15. Demigod (Okiru Remix)
  16. Hymn of the Fayth (FFX Cover)
  17. For We Are Many (Mangadrive Remix)
  18. Demigod (Falling Skies Remix)
  19. Demigod (Sirus Remix)
  20. Demigod (Blast Radius Fall of Andromeda Mix)
  21. Finale

 
Cryogenic Echelon MySpace http://www.myspace.com/cryogenicechelon
Cryogenic Echelon Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cryogenic-Echelon
Cryogenic Echelon SoundCloud http://soundcloud.com/cryogenic-echelon
Cryogenic Echelon Bandcamp http://cryogenicechelon.bandcamp.com
CRL Studios Website http://crlstudio.com
CRL Studios MySpace http://www.myspace.com/crlstudios
CRL Studios Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/CRL-Studios/120456934637781
CRL Studios BandCamp http://crlstudios.bandcamp.com
 
2012-10-06
 
Damian Glowinkowski (DamienG)

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