Jan 2012 19

Ex_Tension - FreedomEx_Tension
Category: Industrial
Album: Freedom
Stars: 2.5
Blurb: A solid album that suffers from being too heavily stuck in the past.


Originally released as an extremely limited CDr in 2006 by this French duo, Freedom is finally being rereleased with two bonus remix tracks. Heavily steeped in older electronic styles, Ex_Tension shows shades of many early to mid ‘90s artists and genres, at times making this sample heavy, vocal-less work feel like a tribute to a bygone era as it deftly mixes and matches styles. However, this not only results in some consistency issues but also leads to the album feeling a bit too dated when it sticks too close to its roots and fails to put much of a modern twist on the older styles.

After a brief intro track, “Freedom,” “Off,” “Infinity,” and “Lust (ex_tended)” start things off showing shades of early work from acts like Front Line Assembly and Front 242, with similarly dated synth work and some liberal use of sampling in the first and last of these tracks. However, where these other bands continue to shine thanks in part to their respective vocal prowess, Ex_Tension’s work in these tracks is totally instrumental apart from samples, leaving the tracks without much unique identity and more like a trivial reference to these older styles than a new take on them. In stark contrast to these, one of the most memorable and impressive works of the album, “Ohm” shows a surprising and fresh take on early acid trance techno, offering much of the same hypnotic loopy rhythms but with faster pacing and harder edged synths more associated with early EBM. “What Else” returns to more of a straight-up industrial homage, this time taking on more of an older Mentallo and the Fixer type feel but is unfortunately butchered by some unseemly sample abuse. The only vocal track of the album, “Tx7” is one of the only tracks to mimic a more modern style with its whispery vocals seemingly taking a page from Neikka RPM. Unfortunately, the album proper wraps up in a very peculiar note, shifting gears and going an experimental ambient route that feels wildly out of place when stood up along the mostly retro influenced work that preceded it.

Freedom definitely has its ups and downs. Most of the time, it feels like a solid but somewhat featureless amalgam, a tribute to the old industrial work of the ‘90s. At other times, it shows a clever mixing of styles, offering up interesting twists on old flavors. Though the album does have its issues, with this album being roughly five years old, possibly the most interesting feature it has to offer would be its use as a comparison piece to hold up next to Ex_Tension’s more recent work, seeing if this sideshow of older styles has evolved and congealed into one singular artistic vision.
Track list:

  1. Ouverture
  2. Freedom
  3. Off
  4. Infinity
  5. Lust (ex_tended)
  6. Extermezzo
  7. Ohm
  8. What Else
  9. Tx7
  10. Intermezzo
  11. Freedom according to zNo
  12. Freedom according to Lith

Ex_Tension Website http://ex.tension.free.fr
Ex_Tension MySpace http://www.myspace.com/ex8tension
Ex_Tension Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ex_Tension/303004976687
Signifier Website http://www.signifier.indiemade.com
Signifier Facebook http://www.facebook.com/signifieronline
Signifier Twitter http://twitter.com/signifieronline
Purchase at:
Amazon CD
Amazon MP3
Trubie Turner (Flexei)

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