Dec 2013 23

Empire State Human - Soul of the MachineEmpire State Human
Category: Electro/ Synthpop
Album: Soul of the Machine
Stars: 3
Blurb: The angle of approach to the mainstay synthpop traits might be skewed but Empire State Human’s new album still is distinctly nostalgic and homogeneous.


The Irish duo of Empire State Human continues to push forward and this year’s Soul of the Machine is at once an extension of the moods and methods that defined the emotional 2012 release The Art and a venture into new, if related, territories. The track list of this release is made up of songs that originate in band’s rich past and help reveal the scope of their interests but it is also plagued by shortcomings both new and pre-existent that at times hold it back from realizing its full potential.

The set up of this latest record is indeed not at all dissimilar to that of The Art, but once the new material begins to unravel, the subtleties of Empire State Human’s approach begin to slowly distort the emotional synthpop inspired surface. Aidan Casserly and Lar Kiernan have clearly indulged themselves in their chosen aesthetic and they bask in the soothing warmth of drowned out vocals and the gentle synths that fill the songs. However, it’s the more deliberate rhythms and darker tones that register more potently, especially on the closing “Frames of the World” and “I Feel Alive,” a curiously paced fusion of trip-hop current and haunting melodies. Elsewhere, the texture of the music is far more predictable as “Love Like Chrome” and “Beloved” are both incessantly exploiting their highly emotional tone. There’s an overwhelming abundance of elements embellishing both songs already rich in gleeful, chirping synth lines. On “We Never Said Goodbye” and “Chameleons,” the latter being one of the most dynamic tracks on the whole album, melody lines begin to collapse under the weight of the cheerfulness of the intrusive bleeps. The defining element of The Art is Casserly’s potently vibrating voice, here appearing to bounce off the figurative walls of the synth based structures. It constantly echoes, confusingly making Soul of the Machine sound like a live album and distracting from the flow of the songs. Still, it’s a delivery that, technical oddities aside, remains as sweeping, romantic, and memorable as it was on the act’s previous material.

There is a majestic and powerful artistry at work on Soul of the Machine, but also one that eventually overstays its welcome. When the album ceases to resonate, it does so suddenly and irrevocably. Most of the staples of the band’s style are still present and Empire State Human continues to appreciate the nostalgic value of its style. Those still in love with the new romance vibe will surely share that appreciation and enjoy the music. This ReViewer for one will be curious to see which characteristic of Soul of the Machine will define the upcoming The Dark, already scheduled by Empire State Human for the next year release.
Track list:

  1. Love Like Chrome
  2. Beloved
  3. Nostalgia
  4. We Never Said Goodbye
  5. Spacelab One
  6. I Feel Alive
  7. Light Chasers
  8. Welcome to the Future
  9. Chameleons
  10. Frames of the World

Empire State Human MySpace
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House of Analogue Facebook
Purchase at:
Amazon MP3
Damian Glowinkowski (DamienG)

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