Category: EBM / Electro / Industrial
Label: Artoffact Records
Release Date: 2022-06-03
Author: Trubie Turner (Flexei)
Echoes is surprisingly only the fourth album from Ottawa, Canada’s Encephalon, but the staying power and forward-thinking style betrays the years and number of albums from this EBM powerhouse. Since the 2011 debut album, The Transhuman Condition, Encephalon has impressed more with each consecutive release, with Echoes offering their most narratively rich and stylistically varied album to date.
Bringing together elements of futurepop and a dash of synthwave with a harder edged industrial cyberpunk grit, Encephalon could be described as a cross between Mind.in.a.Box and classic Front Line Assembly. Opening with the technological gloom of “The Trial” and seamlessly transitioning into the dance friendly and reality questioning “Someone Else’s Dream,” the band immediately shows a flair for the dramatic and complex sound design, like they’re laying the seeds for a future revolution. Slowing things down with “The Same Wound,” the heavily distorted vocals take on a steady cadence with a thick layer of distorted synth laid on a strong beat, giving the track a bit of a surprising hip-hop-like attitude. The only weak track to be found lies in “Slime Never Dies,” which is a bit too repetitive and monotonous, and the vocals come across as cartoonish at times, but even here, the track seems to be the theme for the “villain” of the album’s concept or representing a descent into madness caused by virtual immortality. This low point also may seem intentional when followed by the exceptionally triumphant and uplifting feeling of “Beyond My Circuitry” as it fantasizes about breaking free of the constraints of the program.
The real strength of Encephalon is the ability to bring complex and intricate programming to the dancefloor and never engage in frivolity or DJ pandering banality. Every track has a driving, grandiose, and epic feel that tells its own story like something torn from the soundtrack of a non-existent cyberpunk film directed by Nicolas Winding Refn. Like a Refn film, it also feels like there is much under the surface that is being left untold, that there are many layers to this onion to pull back and explore that make Echoes an invigorating and unique experience to ponder and to dance to.
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Website, Facebook, Twitter, Bandcamp, YouTube, Instagram