Nov 2012 22

Cryogenic Echelon - Atop the Ivory TowerCryogenic Echelon
Category: Electro/Industrial
Album: Atop the Ivory Tower
Stars: 3
Blurb: The broad, creative strokes of this thriving Australian outfit are channeled and redefined with only the limited amount of tracks detracting from the overall quality of this EP.


Cryogenic Echelon, a one man army led forward by Gerry Hawkins, reworks material from the debut EP Fall of the Reptiles to some rather enjoyable results. Surprisingly enough, despite the limited scope of Atop the Ivory Tower that focuses on merely two tracks, Hawkins gains a substantial mileage out of the thoughtful choice of acts that remix and tweak his signature brand of modern dark electro. The whole release consists of several versions of “Hate Yourself” and “Fall of the Reptiles” from the album released by Cryogenic Echelon over a year ago. With the original tracks being strangely absent from this compilation, the listener will be relegated to that release (or the subsequent Costume of a Saviour, which includes those songs) to appreciate how Atop the Ivory Tower’s track list might be manipulating Hawkins’ own work.

What remains of the template of “Hate Yourself” on Rhythmhead’s remix that opens this EP is the unquestionable momentum that drives the composition forward. Gone are the explicitly EBM derived beats, which are replaced by a mixture of harsh bass lines and melodic electronica that culminates repeatedly in the sweeping chorus, considerably more fleshed out than it was before. The creative approach to the track’s hidden potential results in a strong first impression and, arguably, “Hate Yourself”’s strongest cover. Synaptic Reactor employs a crisp, danceable sound that filters most of the dark electro sensibilities and distils them into a club friendly and decidedly more approachable variation. However, with the menacing, aggressive textures gone, the mood so well established by Rhythmhead evaporates and Synaptic’s effort doesn’t resonate as well despite its catchy hooks. Aptly and predictably given their name, Digital Deformation lets “Hate Yourself” deteriorate into a maelstrom of distorted beats and glitch laden rhythms that might very well be denser and noisier than anything else on the entire release and reveal yet one other possible facet of Cryogenic Echelon’s music. Less successful is the Hicksville mix that despite the competent handling of mellow electronic melody fails to invigorate the original or offer a truly inspired take on elements reworked to better results in the previous track. The last of the remixes plays out like a snippet of a DJ set, infused with chill-out moods and IDM-esque soundscapes that inoffensively but also without much energy relax the predominantly industrial method of Atop the Ivory Tower. On the opposing front, in a slight disadvantage, are only two iterations of “Fall of the Reptiles.” The first one by Corroded Master leaves intact the heavily distorted, angst ridden vocals and reinforces the stomping industrial beat of the original through even more intricate and layered application of distorted rhythms. In this incarnation, the track’s melodic elements fight a losing battle with an unstoppable onslaught of raw energy. This former trait, however, is picked up by R4NG4, rendering “Fall of the Reptiles” a mindless but positively old-school and explosive display of pure electro that takes full advantage of its enticing hook. The closing, one-minute-long Meth Addicted Children Remix is a noisy joke of unexplainable relevance.

While the extreme focus on the two chosen tracks limits the listener’s recognition of the entity that is Cryogenic Echelon, there is just enough variety in the creative approaches to “Hate Yourself” and “Fall of the Reptiles” to keep the audience hooked and intrigued for the duration of the album. It is little more but an introduction to the output of a band that quickly evolves, like Celldweller before, into a modern industrial giant, but it works well as an extension of the first release and an approachable way to learn of Cryogenic Echelon’s, soon to be prominent, presence.
Track list:

  1. Hate Yourself (Rhythmhead Remix)
  2. Fall Of The Reptiles (Corroded Master Remix)
  3. Hate Yourself (Synaptic Reactor Remix)
  4. Hate Yourself (Digital Deformation Remix)
  5. Hate Yourself (Hicksville Remix)
  6. Fall Of The Reptiles (R4NG4 Remix)
  7. Hate Yourself (Serenity Cell Remix)
  8. Fall Of The Reptiles (Meth Addicted Children Remix By Virtual Terrorist)

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Damian Glowinkowski (DamienG)

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