Mar 2018 28

IAMX - Alive In New LightIAMX
Category: Electro
Album: Alive In New Light
Blurb: The dark prince of avant-garde electro returns with a hopefully new chapter in the emotional saga that is IAMX.


Following a string of critically acclaimed releases, Chris Corner emerges from a long period of depression with Alive In New Light, his eighth release under the IAMX banner. AINL’s nine tracks bear much of what fans have come to love with its intensely personal lyrics, wide sweeping melodies, and masterful production. However, the album finds Corner taking all the risks in a brand new emotional territory. Metanoia was a definitive album that found IAMX at the climax of Chris Corner’s personal struggles. Feeling like something of a final chapter, its gun-metal cold viciousness was sharp, self-assured, and took no prisoners. Recorded and produced in in an isolated trailer within the California desert, Alive In New Light shows a far more subdued side of IAMX, with a prevailing sense of soft, pink hope and wonder throughout. AINL may lack the immediacy of its predecessor, but has a great deal to unpack and feels undeniably fresh.

The first of several tracks with guest vocals provided by multimedia artist Kat Von D, “Stardust” welcomes us to the album with a gentle, twinkling introduction before jumping into a swinging beat and a warm buildup. The lead single’s powerful chorus instantly reminds the listener of what Mr. Corner’s strengths are with its massive, anthemic declarations. Von D’s contributions are serviceable, but don’t necessarily add a great weight to the track that would be missed otherwise. Title track “Alive In New Light” sets the tone of the record with its near-angelic sense of euphoria. The lyrics find Corner acknowledging the struggles behind him and approaching life with new eyes. “Break the Chain” is all big vocals, wasting little time in exploring Corner’s remarkable range; lyrically, there’s a lot take in, but I found myself drifting away from this track on repeated listens. The sexually charged “Body Politics” is full-on electro sleaze with its pounding beat and straightforward but compelling production; a perfect club track, it represents a welcome reprieve from the deeper elements permeating the bulk of AINL. “Exit” follows and is probably the most complex track on the album. Upon first listen, it can be an overwhelming and challenging listen as it is layered, messy, and explores a lot of ground. Beginning with an anxious and oppressive drum, airy strings, and a soft, vulnerable vocal, it builds with a harsh and foreboding electronic atmosphere, rarely allowing the listener to turn away. Lying in the grey area between romance and threat, “Stalker” features Corner trading dueling vocals with Von D, and while she may have failed to set the listener on fire elsewhere, it is on this track where she truly gets her moment to shine, her moody delivery perfectly in sync with Corner’s. Largely devoid of sharp electronics, the track has a warm and haunting sound complete with the subdued percussion and strings painting a perfect portrait of obsession. “Big Man” mocks the absurdity of our current cultural climate with its Danny Elfman-esque carnival vibe. It’s a sound Corner has successfully flirted with a few times before and it certainly has its charms, but doesn’t feel fully realized and perhaps represents the flattest moment on AINL. Conversely, “Mile Deep Hollow” represents one of the album’s biggest and brightest moments with its singular vision and unashamed gratitude. This track easily sweeps the listener up and is the perfect representation of Corner’s current headspace, leaving the closer “The Power and the Glory” to come creeping in with sparse piano and a confessional Corner reaching out. The layered vocals and choirs present in the track are near perfect and the oscillating electronics introduced later in the song complement without distracting from the narrative. It may represent the quintessential album closer, but its execution is effective and leaves the listener in the perfect place – eagerly awaiting the next step in Corner’s metamorphosis.

Alive In New Light is less inviting than its predecessor, but is deeply rewarding upon repeated plays. A worthy inclusion to Chris Corner’s already dynamic discography, one gets the feeling this is just the beginning of even greater things to come and left this writer hungry for more.
Track list:

  1. Stardust
  2. Alive In New Light
  3. Break the Chain
  4. Body Politics
  5. Exit
  6. Stalker
  7. Big Man
  8. Mile Deep Hollow
  9. The Power and the Glory

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Caroline International
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Universal Music Group
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Purchase at:
Amazon CD
Amazon MP3
Amazon Vinyl
Richard Reich (DJRichardReich)

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