To The Depths of Our Past

E.S. Posthumus or as the men behind the name would like to say "Experimental Sounds/Electronic Sounds of all things past". Brothers Franz and Helmut Vonlichten, who as of recently revealed their identities as the true people behind E.S. Posthumus. Undoubtedly rumors had been spreading quite substantially as of who was behind the album Unearthed due to its immense popularity and role played in film and television. The men finally responded with their true identities behind the project. E.S. Posthumus is essentially the philosophy of Pythagoream which states that "music is the harmonies of opposites, the warring of the elements"; well put and straight from the pages of history Unearthed plays exactly as such.

E.S. Posthumus is the epitome of cinematic musical buildup. Dramatic in as many ways as exotic, the album is featured in countless films and TV programs around the world. Only 4 tracks are rarely used as of today and Unearthed could be a standalone soundtrack for most grandiose, high budget, historical films of eventful wars or prominent figures. While the album seems to take a bit of influence from big name composers like Hans Zimmer as seen in "Tikal" and "Harappa", it's understood that these two were never educated to become composers, only having the piano guidance from their mother and Franz's experience in the record studio are the only two things that are actually worthy of mentioning. Frankly, it's quite amazing these two have created such a wide and accessible album to musical score fanatics and studios alike.

Their new age style along with their neoclassical painting by Michelangelo indicates the album has a focused concept throughout. All though it would seem quite ridiculous to go into detailed history of each track as they all pertain to a past ancient city that was once destroyed (many of which that do not exist as of today). Much of the album introduces Middle-Eastern craft smothered in various movements brought by the violin. The foreign hymns that no doubt are Latin helping the album and its long traveling influences. Visually Unearthed
is exceptional as it momentarily grips you in the world that is being captured within the music. Quite odd considering this album isn't attached to a single median. It has yet to be used exclusively to any movie, considering its extensive range of sound that remains an peculiar occurrence. You hear countless references from film and television from songs like "Tikal", "Nara", "Ebla", "Cuzco", "Nineveh", "Lepcis Magna" and "Pompeii", all have distinct sounds that incorporate themselves within everyday television and film.

The scope of this album may seem a bit overconfident or even pretentious, but considering the connection that these track names have with the music itself and the musicians themselves it really doesn't turn out that way. Helmut Vonlichten after graduating from UCLA obtained a degree in Archaeology (soon after teaming up with his brother to create E.S. Posthumus), hence the names of the tracks in connection with one of the brother's past studies. No doubt he would have a keen insight and knowledge on the cultural and traditional musical instruments used within these cities. Unearthed, as it should be is extremely dramatic in its upbringing. Much of the album consists of constant drumming in the background, soaring violins, spacious flutes, tragic Latin vocals and intense buildups. Despite the multitude of cities and problems that could arise with Unearthed they never do. Each track is tightly knit within its own structure, using the inspiration given by these cities. "Tikal" sounds like a match to the death for Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott's Gladiator, while "Ebla", with its illustrious vocals and intriguing synth background makes an memorable track to say the least. Generally Unearthed takes a step forward with each successive attempt upon a new city, despite the obvious inclusion of each city's extensive musical background it works without hesitation or reluctance. The Vonlichten brothers essentially craft an album that please anyone mildly interested in the soundtrack genre, while legitimately breaking a bit of ground within their debut. While the draw of Unearthed is its scope and magnitude from the deserts of the Middle East, to the ancients of Rome, and the exciting history of the samurai in Japan, when it all really comes down to accessibility. And this accessibablty may garner thoughts of generic new age buildups and overly-intensive musicianship, but that's the whole point of this album. E.S. Posthumus' debut is instantly recognizable if you heard a few seconds of any track and once you get the chance to you'll realize why Unearthed is worth your time.

Grade: B+



It's been a great while since I've had the pleasure of listening to heavy industrial destroy my ears. While the most notable industrial band of its genre (Nine Inch Nails) may have an accessible appeal there are fantastic depths of any genre to explore and despite many people's lack of discipline, including mine on the genre it would feel unjust to just listen to Reznor. Cyanotic's debut Transhuman would leave an imprint large enough to garner praise and even selling out the entire stock by the end of August of 2006. To show their thanks they released Transhuman 2.0, which in many ways than one is superior album then its source. Almost entirely new, Transhuman 2.0 adds remixes, well-known industrial artists such as Front Line Assembly and new tracks. Despite being pigeonholed because of their sound, Cyanotic would be traditional enough to garner industrial fans, while adding new elements of glitch and drum and bass to adding more accessibility for other enthusiasts.

Transhuman 2.0 in many respects breeds tons of malice and liveliness throughout it's journey. The album's brooding and heart-pounding atmosphere is marked in various tracks with conceptual samples, hard hitting vocals, and more importantly the type of industrial feeling that most wish was embodied by more bands. "Resurgance" could be categorized as exactly the sentiment I wish most bands approach their work with. Although "Resurgance" may be driving and sometimes tiresome, it still leaves the listener impressed. As expected some of this material, if not all is not for the faint of heart as it continuously never backs down for a moments notice. The programming and synths done by a collective effort used throughout the album is fantastic; the scarce instrumental tracks "Frequency (Recycled)" and "Altered States of Consciousness" (small sample piece) remain to be the perfect precursor and closer for the original album. While the concept of Transhuman 2.0 remains (the better of the human condition with the use of science and technology), the aspects underneath the lyricism are truly important. Payne seems to embrace the concept of co-existing with improved status, without illness or disease, but the underlying idea seems cold and harsh. This type of dualism mentality Payne exhibits is essentially what makes this Transhuman 2.0 worthy in the first place.

The machine may be running exceptionally well in Transhuman 2.0 because of its dark frame of mind, but the cog is most definitely the concept of transhumanism. While the search for immortality has been a story for quite some time, the entire concept could be either be embraced or remarkably dreadful. Payne basically is torn between the two. While the thoughts of living as an immortal has its benefits: never becoming sick or bedridden, the entire fixation of immortality feels like a sad state of affairs to him. Transhuman 2.0 discusses (in a matter of speaking) the fears of a man who has nothing to panic about and nothing to be worrisome of. While this may seem to be fantastic think of it? Would you grow so callous and dead from your years of livelihood on the inside you would care for nothing or would you eventually become paranoid to the state of insanity as "(Paranoid) Disbelief" would suggest. And although one side of the coin may be terrible in every circumstance, the other is what philosophers and scientists such as Benjamin Franklin and Charles Darwin could believe be plausible. Although these renowned philosophers, scientists, and stories (most notably the Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the earliest works of literary merit) aren't exactly what they thought transhumanism would be, they all had one goal of immortality. Despite the overall theme of the album, Transhuman 2.0 discusses in tiny measures an integral part of many people's lives, religion. If you would remain to be an immortal does that not refute the countless questions of God's existence and even without the discovery of immortality in a form of a wondrous potion or even scientific rebuilding it still remains to a void evidence and God himself. Yes, very anti-religious rhetoric, but the question is raised because of the overall concept of this album, which is why its remarkably effective in so many ways.

Grade: B+


Where Is This Headed?

It's obviously not a coincidence that Chris Clark had changed his official musician name to a shortened Clark with the release of his EP Throttle Furniture. The change would immediately signal a transformation in his direction as his more moderate electronic cuts mixed with ambient backgrounds almost completely disappeared. With the release of his third album Body Riddle and his fourth Turning Dragon the man knew what he wanted - an unprovoked, hard-hitting electronic sequences with small snippets of his past albums. Ultimately Turning Dragon would call for the changing of the guard as it was nothing like Clark had ever released; clearly more straightforward in its approach, but not in its varying complexity. Interestingly enough it was easy to understand why the man who started as a more of an ambient/electronic artists a la Tim Hecker and Aphex Twin, to a idm/breakbeat junkie would be despised by some who are split on either side. If his debut Clarence Park said Clark would meander off in many directions then Totems Flare really is a replica of that album. Nothing new or relatively barbaric in approach it would seem that Clark has hit a pitfall in his young musical career.

Although the man who carries the original intention of Warp Records' heyday it soon becomes clear on Totem's Flare that he's either lost memory of his past dealings or just plain bored. This may feel like a complaint or a tirade to some, but in all honesty I think Clark's "trilogy" of hard-nosed breakbeats, short ambient sequences, techno-theme and relentless idm was thrown into a pot on pure happenstance. Clearly the more refined albeit still chaotic Body Riddle and Turning Dragon feel refreshing if not bearable compared to the third in the series of his new approach. Totems Flare feels like a regression of sorts, instead of expanding or sticking to a consistent sound, it sounds more like a huge mess. His previous albums, despite not sounding anything like his releases post-2006 carried the balance extremely well. Clarence Park's playful nature and distorted lulls were amazingly similar to Aphex Twin their connotations, easily pleasurable and increasingly likeable, but that was his debut made nearly 9 years ago. Unfortunately when you get a taste of this in Totems Flare it feels like betrayal or better yet downright wrong, you asking yourself what the hell is this doing here? The flow of Clark's last release is purely disruptive, was that his intent? I'm not exactly sure, but it sure doesn't help this album's cause.

It may sound easy to pummel Clark's latest effort, but the man has been quite progressive in his sound if not dynamic. His uproarious sequences that build to an explosion of energy that induces huge moments of dancing may be the reason why Totems Flare seems so misplaced. The sometimes odd, slow moving sequences have been non-existent in his last few efforts. I didn't think this would be possible, but it's as if the general feeling is I'm growing out of this direction. Despite its progressive nature, the sequences that develop within the music are extremely aggravating. The type of music on Totems Flare can only be described in a matter of words and short explanations: sequence switching (pertaining towards the extremely quick transitions from one sound to another completely disrupting any type of flow), misplaced (much of Totems Flare doesn't not flow as it should), disappointing (despite having some fantastic material hidden in the depths of a few songs such as the keyboard transition 3:37 in "Outside Plume" and the serene upbringing of "Growls Garden" most of Totems Flare rides through some huge speed bumps).

Generally the old adage goes if it isn't broke don't fix it and Clark seems to have taken that to heart. If not for a few subtle differences in sampling and even quick sequences that sometimes show absolutely no consistencies this could feel like a re-hash of Body Riddle and Turning Dragon, yet not nearly as smooth in transition or excellent. At the end of the day Totems Flare truly had some great potential, but the myriad number of problems hold it back.

Grade: C-

Download: V0(VBR)


Unrivaled Pace and Precison

Pardon my outlandish claims, but the drum and bass genre may seem a bit stagnant. The premiere artists around the genre seem to do little to expand their horizons and instead stick to one train of thought. Easily trumping my statement is the hidden gems that lay around, unnoticed and untouched. These diamonds in the rough garner a cult following until they're recognized for their brilliance. Calyx and Teebee are two drum and bass artists that have been friends for quite some time, 1998 to be exact. Their first release together Anatomy is a concoction of thumping drive, energetic bass, sci-fi esque feel, and nonstop dance bliss. Unequivocally produced for the dance floors this drum and bass endeavor will seemingly never stop for a gasp of air.

When you discuss most dance-inducing albums you usually discuss the flawless production. Anatomy would have that and then some. Not only are all the tracks exceptionally done, but the symphonic and cinematic feel is only rivaled by Rob Dougan's Furious Angels. Confidently Calyx and Teebee endure countless breakbeats, techno induced energy and brilliance, topped with cinematic aspirations. They gladly pull this off, something that would seem to be a behemoth of a task, but it doesn't stop for a rest, not once. Pertaining towards the cinematic feel, it would seem that Anatomy could replace the gratifying and perfectly crafted Fight Club Soundtrack by the Dust Brothers. Besides the unnerving drive and huge force this album brings it could be a substitute it easily. The schizophrenic demeanor may be lively (easily correlating with Fight Club), but there is much structure on these songs, all holding fans of drum and bass, techstep, and jungle in one corner.

Unlike most drum and bass albums that either lose you through the middle of the album or right away, Anatomy grips you immediately and straps you in for the ride. The repetitive wave and beat department may leave you a bit hesitant, but don't let that fool you. Calyx and Teebee are able to craft a superb album, even though much like the genre the structures build heavily on the previous sequence it doesn't leave the listener yearning for more or less. It's just so damn balanced, mixing samples, sleek instrumentation appearances, electronic splices with fantastic and body-moving drum and bass that would probably win over many that are dreading this type of music. Although it may seem at first that Anatomy is parading as a same-sounding album, it's far from it. Conjoining and melding ferocious breakbeats, mild-mannered samples, and odd introductions. "Enygma" sounds like an off-kilter drum and bass track introduction (the illustrious piano), but it stays in the background, ever so lightly - mixing in with the quick thumping drums and beautiful ambient sounds. The mix of approach on Anatomy adds to its undeniable charisma, each track evolving as they should, only with more relevance then the previous. Despite this statement it would seem from the beginning of "The Divide" all the way to the end of "Vortex" Anatomy was already relevant, assaulting without warning and with amazing pace.

Anatomy has all the pieces to become a hit among many around the world's dance floors. Much like Prodigy's Music For The Jilted Generation, Anatomy defines its genre in more ways than one. Much like those albums that did define the dance music of their generation or present time you need to be in the right frame of mind to appreciate it. Anatomy really can be consumed all in one-take despite its demanding listen of nonstop vigor, but unless you're a fan of dance-themed music, cinematic undertones, or any music related towards techno or drum and bass then you'd probably stay away from this. Anatomy packs a mean punch, contended by only Mike Tyson and even to non-drum and bass fans it is worthy of your attention.

Grade: A+

Download: V0(VBR)

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