Sep 2016 16

Psy'Aviah - Seven Sorrows, Seven StarsPsy’Aviah
Category: EBM / Synthpop
Album: Seven Sorrows, Seven Stars
Stars: 3.5
Blurb: Psy’Aviah’s seventh album is a stellar journey that transcends genre and boldly goes into new territory, but how does this cosmic voyage into the unknown shake out?


Psy’Aviah is billed as being devoted to experimentation and certainly delivers in that respect, having crossed genres dozens of times and including a plethora of guest vocalists including Jennifer Parkin (Ayria), Jean-Luc De Meyer (Front 242, 32 Crash, C-Tec), and many others. Seven Sorrows, Seven Stars is the aptly named seventh album from Psy’Aviah and continues the trend of disregarding genre and focusing on experimentation.

Calm and full of promise, the opening title track swells and teases the listener before the album shifts to the first proper song. “Alcubierre Drive” starts off strong, the main chorus hauntingly echoing over the soundscape as Carl Sagan (from his Cosmos series) narrates on relativity and space. Rhythmic and bright, the track serves as a perfect opener for a concept and theme that the rest of the album fails to capitalize on quite as well. “Face to Face” is a stark contrast to the smooth sensuality of “Alcubierre Drive.” It’s loud and gaudy, danceable to be certain, but ostentatious and repetitive. “Looking Back” shifts back to a slower pace and seems like a better fit for the album. David Chamberlin’s vocals work well with the Psy’Aviah sound and deliver an experience that will be all at once familiar to Psy’Aviah fans. Mari Kattman’s vocals are a sound fit for “Lessons from the Past,” a beautiful and smoky layer on top of a well arranged, well paced track that is easily one of the high points of the album. Shifting from the smoothness of Kattman’s dusky voice to the stark, commanding Bernard Feron on “From Another World” is almost enough to wake the listener up and break the trance the album has spent the past few tracks creating, but the chorus is catchy and soon creates a comfortable groove for yet another solid track.

“Never Look Back” almost falls into the same trap as “From Another World” by having an intro that feels disjointed, but quickly moves into a more enjoyable tempo and rhythm. The breakbeast-esque drum track is an enjoyable departure from the more traditional synthpop/EBM sounds of the previous offerings on the album. “Opia” shifts gears into an upbeat and positive direction, and while befitting of the celestial theme of the album, the track isn’t very compelling. The most interesting portion of the song is once the vocals stop, an echoing and dislocated guitar plucks a tune over the layers of sound and creates a soundscape that feels unique and exciting. Unceremoniously, “Frozen” hits the listener over the head with a big, bombastic drumbeat. The funky nature of the track is undermined by vocals that don’t seem like a good fit, Andrew Galucki’s efforts squandered by being discordant with the rest of the track. “Liberosis” moves into a quick pace and offers a high energy song that, once again, feels at odds with its own vocals. The music’s too loud and the lyrics and vocals are drowned out and easily ignored; any merit the vocals on this track offer are lost in the noise.

“Peace Paradox” is one of only two tracks on the album to not feature a guest vocalist or artist and serves as the bridge between previous Psy’Aviah albums and this one. Familiar, yet evolved, this is the track that Psy’Aviah fans need in order to ascend from the modes defined by albums like Eclectric and Future Past. “Not What I Expected” reflects what some listeners may be feeling by this point in the album, but this track is refreshing and is a danceable, fun club hit. Fallon Nieves is a bit monotone in her delivery, but it fits with the track and lends character to a song that might seem stale in her absence. An ethereal vocalization sweeps through as “Stronger” begins and then starts to deliver an infectious beat. “Stronger” is upbeat without being annoying about it; the track seems like a holiday in Ibiza with its more techno-esque sounds, which isn’t a bad thing by any means. “Wild Ride” is a complete gear change and feels more like an homage to Nine Inch Nails than a Psy’Aviah track, even with Miss FD’s vocals. Unfortunately, the track feels too derivative to merit any special attention, feeling out of place and borderline irritating. The final track of the album, “Starstruck” is a somber ending to an interesting journey. The listener is told to “embrace the stars” as the piano and soft synth fade out.

Overall, when the album is good, it’s really good, but when it’s bad, it’s pretty bad. Songs are either delightful and a pleasure for the ears or boring and/or irritating, there is virtually no grey area on offer. Four of the 15 tracks on the album felt out of place or dull, which leaves 11 tracks that are enjoyable and noteworthy, which isn’t a bad ratio at all. The celestial theme established early on in the album falls off at points and feels like an afterthought at times, though that could be a byproduct of featuring guest artists who bring their own vision and style to each track. It would have been pleasant to hear more tracks similar to “Alcubierre Drive” and “Lessons from the Past,” which are easily the high points of Seven Sorrows, Seven Stars.
Track list:

  1. Seven Sorrows, Seven Stars
  2. Alcubierre Drive (feat. Kyoto Baertsoen)
  3. Face to Face (feat. Roeland van der Velde)
  4. Looking Back (feat. David Chamberlin)
  5. Lessons from the Past (feat. Mari Kattman)
  6. From Another Worlds (feat. Bernard Feron)
  7. Never Look Book (feat. Ellia Bisker)
  8. Opia (feat. Pieter Van Vaerenbergh)
  9. Frozen (feat. Andrew Galucki)
  10. Liberosis (feat. Alvin River)
  11. Peace Paradox
  12. Not What I Expect (feat. Fallon Nieves)
  13. Stronger (feat. Addie Nicole)
  14. Wild Ride (feat. Miss FD)
  15. Starstruck (feat. Diana S.)

Website, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, ReverbNation, SoundCloud, YouTube
Alfa Matrix
Website, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Bandcamp
Purchase at:
Amazon CD (Standard)
Amazon CD (Deluxe)
Amazon MP3
Storming the Base CD (Standard)
Storming the Base CD (Deluxe)
Brian McLelland (BMcLelland)

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