Dec 2013 24

Hopeful Machines - Minus ZeroHopeful Machines
Category: Electronic / Experimental
Album: Minus Zero
Stars: 4
Blurb: With all the dynamics of a film score and exploring varying modes of electronic music in a uniformly cohesive fashion, Steven Archer takes the listener through a blissful audio journey.


Steven Archer has demonstrated time and again with Ego Likeness and his own electronic project Hopeful Machines his proficiency as a composer and producer. Incorporating a diverse range of styles from the percussive onslaught of industrial to the melancholy melodies of gothic rock to the more exploratory realms of varying forms of electronic music, his is an undeniable talent that is shown in full on Minus Zero, his second release under the Hopeful Machines moniker this year.

While this album is no less dynamic in the range of moods he expresses, Minus Zero presents a singular focus that seemed lacking in The Spring of the Drowned Girl; even across such long stretches that these tracks encompass, there is a concentrated flow from beginning to end that makes for an intensely gratifying listening experience. This is immediately apparent in “One Point Five Billion,” as the track begins with swells of ambient strings and a twanging slide guitar that steadily guides the listener through rising tension that finally culminates in a throbbing array of techno beats and shimmering electronic layers. Even across 12-and-a-half minutes, the song never once loses its way, moving seamlessly to create a wonderfully satisfying display of electronic music. The same can be said for virtually every track on Minus Zero, with somber pianos and chilled synths floating in a lush and morose fashion throughout “What We Had We Never Lost,” waves of industrialized percussion and distorted sequences waxing and waning through “My Blood is Becoming Thin and Drawn Out,” to the epic transitions of sample-laden orchestral passages giving way to entrancing and rhythmic layers of warbling electronics, shimmering piano, and moderate percussion on “Home Dot Alpha.” The title track is arguably the most straightforward as it begins with a throbbing beat backed by samples and skittering electro, and even as the song shifts mood at the midway point, it maintains its danceable, trancelike energy.

Even as “1095 Days” segues between varying movements in the space of 15-and-a-half minutes in a similar manner as The Spring of the Drowned Girl, there is a feeling of each segment being part of a unified whole that benefits the entirety of Minus Zero. In listening to this or any releases by Hopeful Machines, one wonders why Steven Archer has not been conscripted to compose and produce film scores as his music carries a narrative quality befitting such visual accompaniment. With his skills as a seasoned professional, it’s no surprise that Minus Zero makes for a truly exemplary presentation of intelligent composition and crystalline production.
Track list:

  1. One Point Five Billion
  2. What We Had We Never Lost
  3. Song for the End of Days
  4. My Blood is Becoming Thin and Drawn Out
  5. Minus Zero
  6. 1095 Days
  7. Home Dot Alpha

Hopeful Machines Website
Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)

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