Feb 2014 04

Microwaved - At the Heart of DeathMicrowaved
Category: Electro / Industrial
Album: At the Heart of Death
Stars: 2
Blurb: Due to several glaring missteps that diminishes the album experience as a whole, greater care should have been given to this collection of remixes to preview the upcoming album.


Featuring remixes of several tracks that will be featured on his upcoming album, Jesse, Gabe Wilkinson’s latest outing as Microwaved would perhaps benefit from the assistance of the various remixers if not for the fact that it reinforces the project’s struggle for a particular focus. Skirting the edges of the underground for several years, Microwaved has displayed an affinity for virtually anything the electro/industrial scene has to offer, from guitar-driven machine rock to pulsating synth-laden EBM, and given something of an unpolished punk quality given the limitations of Wilkinson’s command of melody or actual hooks. As such, At the Heart of Death is enjoyable for its variety thanks to the collaboration of the remixing talent doing well to place as much emphasis on Wilkinson’s musical strengths.

Of the song “eMotion Sickness,” Roughhausen’s blistering, creeping SirCut Bent mix is notable for the eerie modulations in the voice and the samples, the arrangements a chaotic jumble of perturbed ambience that is not dissimilar to a Too Dark Park-era Skinny Puppy. On the other end of the spectrum, the Societal Collapse mix is more straightforwardly rhythmic, aiming its sites squarely for the dance floor, the hip-hop style of the verses contrasting with the melody of the chorus. Unfortunately, it is in this mix that Wilkinson’s inability to sing this melody on key becomes apparent, greatly diminishing the song and this particular mix. Slowing down the pace and removing much of the harmonic backdrop to emphasize the song’s rapping qualities and add an element of ambient mystery, Panda Transport’s version is certainly a more passable take, leaving the Rahdialect remix to descend into pure noisy breakbeat-laden dissonance. And then, there is the song “Black Lung,” on which Exageist makes the first pass with a menacingly slow beat to allow the guttural chugs of guitars and the desolate vocals to run counter to a vicious display of glitches. Lthrboots speeds things up with a purely dance floor-friendly electro/EBM mix that is notable for its vocoder treatments while the Short to Grind Dirt Nap mix takes on a harsher industrial dance approach that is just as enjoyable. Chuck T’s Deeply Darker remix attempts to live up to its title with a gloomy bass line and minimalist arrangement of light electronics and subdued guitars, but it ultimately does little to hold one’s attention. As a special bonus, the song “Escape” appears in five versions, featuring the vocals of Jenna Christiansen. With a slow, trippy beat and classically industrial rock progression reminiscent of the likes of 12 Rounds or Chainsuck, this song is immediately compelling and engaging in all of its incarnations, from the overly noisy ambience of the Liar’s Conspiracy remix to the eerily slowed industrial clamor of Mickle Blvd, the dark electro/EBM of the Standard Issue Citizen remix to the gothic electro of Ego Likeness’ Velocity remix.

Where At the Heart of Death truly falters is in its opening track, a cover of Heart’s “Magic Man,” which sounds so grittily lo-fi as if a MIDI version of the song were run through several guitar simulators, creating an obnoxious and downright disgusting version of the classic rock song that it should never have been allowed to see the light of day. Points are also lost for the mistaken credit of the song to only one of the Wilson sisters, but this writer admits to nitpicking on that particular detail. As well, since the two least interesting remixes on the collection are those that do little to conceal or compensate for Wilkinson’s most glaring shortcomings as a musician, it does make listening to At the Heart of Death a less than satisfying listen unless taken in as a selection of individual tracks. For all of his attempts to achieve a musical unity within Microwaved, this collection of remixes to preview the upcoming album required a bit more care than was given.
Track list:

  1. Magic Man
  2. Black Lung (Exageist Remix)
  3. Dirty Politics (Team VSR MIX: 6AM Cabrini Green Coke Run Edit)
  4. eMotion Sickness (SirCut Bent Mix by Roughhausen)
  5. Black Lung (Lthrboots Black Mix)
  6. eMotion Sickness (Societal Collapse Mix)
  7. Black Lung (Chuck T’s Deeply Darker Remix)
  8. eMotion Sickness (Panda Transport Remix)
  9. Black Lung (Short to Grind Dirt Nap Remix)
  10. eMotion Sickness (Rahdialect Remix)
  11. Escape (Begin Again Original Vocal Mix)
  12. Escape (Velocity Remix by Ego Likeness)
  13. Escape and Avenge (Liars’ Conspiracy Remix)
  14. Escape (Mickle Blvd Remix)
  15. Escape (Standard Issue Citizen Remix)

Microwaved MySpace http://www.myspace.com/microwaved
Microwaved Facebook https://www.facebook.com/microwavedgw
Microwaved Twitter http://www.twitter.com/MicrowavedGabe
Microwaved Bandcamp http://microwaved.bandcamp.com
Purchase at:
Amazon MP3
Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)

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