For a band that is approaching 30 years old, Digital Factor is still very under the radar; so much so that this writer had never heard of the band until this album. A Chemical Process marks the band’s tenth full-length record and the band’s first in 10 years. Mike Langer is the only original member left, and he’s brought in the help of bass and guitar player Georg Kostron.
While never pure EBM, Digital Factor usually kept to the genre’s inherent structure, but for A Chemical Process, the band has traded the aggressive dance-oriented sound for something slower and more introspective – more Depeche Mode than Nitzer Ebb, which seemed to be the goal. The production is clean and varied as each track has a solid foundation of beats, bass, and rhythmic noises, but it’s the additions of pianos, guitars, and glitchy and arpeggiated synths that give each personality. The opening “Noone on the Line” begins with the foundations of slow pulse and piano, eventually adding a high distorted synth that got this writer’s head nodding along. For a few bars, a funk guitar enters and could have easily been the focus of the track, but the decision to use it sparingly gives the song a complex and layered feel. “I Am Dangerous” has the bass and synth lines to be an EBM track, but trades out those beats for rock style drums and guitar, with a bit of looping, glitched out vocals. It turns the old format into something new, interesting, and fits well with the rest of the album.
The only minor downside is that the lyrics are a bit plain. Langer has said that the album contains themes of depression, isolation, and addiction, but the lyrics are vague enough that they could point to any number of topics. “Come with Me” opens with the lyrics “I like to do the things I want. No one can stop me. Cause this is my life. Let me show you what I feel.” It could be about addiction, but really it could be about almost anything, which works well for the listener to place their own perspective on top. As well, it wouldn’t even be a downside if the band hadn’t drawn attention to what they were trying to convey. A Chemical Process is a well-crafted album that shows that Langer has become a better and more mature songwriter over the 10-year-long break.