Individual Totem - Kyria 13
Electro, Dark Electro It's been a while since I had a release this hard to review. I have a degree of familiarity with Individual Totem's on-off existence, this being their first album in six years and only their second of the 21st Century. And everything I've heard from them before (not every album but a representative sample), follows the same pattern of not keeping to a pattern at all! You'll have to look elsewhere for obvious club anthems or accessible song structures.

That's no bad thing of course. Industrial music started out with the intention of breaking down the standard techniques of the music industry. But you still need to understand why the rules are there in the first place before you break them, and on opening track "Croxxers", they fall short of mixing the immiscible. The cries of the song title combined with disembodied murmurs of "We Are Immortal" and various other statements, set to an unobtrusive beat and little melodies SHOULD be a route to a decent dark electronic soundtrack. But it doesn't quite work out in the final mix. And I can't quite put my finger on what's wrong.

And then all lines up again correctly on 'Lost Souls', the harder rhythm providing a structure over which which the synth bursts and snarling cries can really fly. The composition employs a false ending halfway through before hitting back harder than before, a real demonstration on how to get stop-start dynamics to work. "The Great Mistake" goes for a synthpoppier vocal, again succeeding on putting a novel twist on a often-used style, though the vocals are too far down in the mix when they should be the most prominent part of the song.

"Council Of The Wise" takes us firmly back into 'weird' territory, a kind of retro-ambient chord progression, new age synth washes and unintelligible processed vocals, with a cameo from a wildly effected drum loop in the later stages. I don't even know if I actually like this one. And just when I thought they couldn't manage any more surprises, they go all neofolk on us with "Go To War". Acoustic guitar, martial drum rolls and touches of orchestration? Is there anything they won't do?

"Mindworms" is probably the closest we get to a 'typical' Individual Totem track, in that it reminds me of the more memorable aspects of their previous albums, a solid-if-intermittent backbeat over which various electronic devices are fired, though the overly repetitive shouts of "You, Get Out Of My Head" grate after a few minutes. "Bluesky" heads backs to the disembodies synthpop style, but lyrically it's just too bizarre for me to be able to relate to.

Three short tracks see us to the end, "No Pressure" resembling elements of about four different dance tunes from 1990s without actually resembling any of them, "Astral" totally nailing the slow, atmospheric, beautiful, redemptive, whatever-words-you-use-to-describe it style, and then finally "Wintermute" brings us home with a minimal composition, the use of chorusing resulting in the only moment on the album where the vocals really sit at the front of mix (only "Go To War" got close).

And that's as close as I can come to describing the indescribable. Credit is definitely due, of course, for showing absolutely no regard for current production trends, faddish musical devices or hackneyed song structures. It's a really cerebral affair, this, and that could either be a good thing or a bad thing in your books. Part of me is glad I heard this, part of me is glad it's all over and is relishing the concept my next review, where I'll be back in old-school EBM country. Another part of me is disappointed with myself for thinking that I'd rather review something predictable than something creative like this. And yet another part of me is pleased that I was disappointed at myself for thinking that.

And if you thought that last paragraph was a bit of a mindbender, just wait until you've heard this album. It achieves much the same effect.
3
Brutal Resonance

Individual Totem - Kyria 13

6.0
"Alright"
N/A
Electroracle
Released 2013 by Artoffact Records
It's been a while since I had a release this hard to review. I have a degree of familiarity with Individual Totem's on-off existence, this being their first album in six years and only their second of the 21st Century. And everything I've heard from them before (not every album but a representative sample), follows the same pattern of not keeping to a pattern at all! You'll have to look elsewhere for obvious club anthems or accessible song structures.

That's no bad thing of course. Industrial music started out with the intention of breaking down the standard techniques of the music industry. But you still need to understand why the rules are there in the first place before you break them, and on opening track "Croxxers", they fall short of mixing the immiscible. The cries of the song title combined with disembodied murmurs of "We Are Immortal" and various other statements, set to an unobtrusive beat and little melodies SHOULD be a route to a decent dark electronic soundtrack. But it doesn't quite work out in the final mix. And I can't quite put my finger on what's wrong.

And then all lines up again correctly on 'Lost Souls', the harder rhythm providing a structure over which which the synth bursts and snarling cries can really fly. The composition employs a false ending halfway through before hitting back harder than before, a real demonstration on how to get stop-start dynamics to work. "The Great Mistake" goes for a synthpoppier vocal, again succeeding on putting a novel twist on a often-used style, though the vocals are too far down in the mix when they should be the most prominent part of the song.

"Council Of The Wise" takes us firmly back into 'weird' territory, a kind of retro-ambient chord progression, new age synth washes and unintelligible processed vocals, with a cameo from a wildly effected drum loop in the later stages. I don't even know if I actually like this one. And just when I thought they couldn't manage any more surprises, they go all neofolk on us with "Go To War". Acoustic guitar, martial drum rolls and touches of orchestration? Is there anything they won't do?

"Mindworms" is probably the closest we get to a 'typical' Individual Totem track, in that it reminds me of the more memorable aspects of their previous albums, a solid-if-intermittent backbeat over which various electronic devices are fired, though the overly repetitive shouts of "You, Get Out Of My Head" grate after a few minutes. "Bluesky" heads backs to the disembodies synthpop style, but lyrically it's just too bizarre for me to be able to relate to.

Three short tracks see us to the end, "No Pressure" resembling elements of about four different dance tunes from 1990s without actually resembling any of them, "Astral" totally nailing the slow, atmospheric, beautiful, redemptive, whatever-words-you-use-to-describe it style, and then finally "Wintermute" brings us home with a minimal composition, the use of chorusing resulting in the only moment on the album where the vocals really sit at the front of mix (only "Go To War" got close).

And that's as close as I can come to describing the indescribable. Credit is definitely due, of course, for showing absolutely no regard for current production trends, faddish musical devices or hackneyed song structures. It's a really cerebral affair, this, and that could either be a good thing or a bad thing in your books. Part of me is glad I heard this, part of me is glad it's all over and is relishing the concept my next review, where I'll be back in old-school EBM country. Another part of me is disappointed with myself for thinking that I'd rather review something predictable than something creative like this. And yet another part of me is pleased that I was disappointed at myself for thinking that.

And if you thought that last paragraph was a bit of a mindbender, just wait until you've heard this album. It achieves much the same effect. Nov 07 2013

Jonny Hall

info@brutalresonance.com
Writer and contributor on Brutal Resonance

Share this review

Facebook
Twitter
Google+
7
Shares

Related articles

LAZERPUNK

Interview, Feb 15 2018

Precision Field - 'Namazu'

Review, Jul 04 2017

Shortly about us

Started in spring 2009, Brutal Resonance quickly grew from a Swedish based netzine into an established International zine of the highest standard.

We cover genres like Synthpop, EBM, Industrial, Dark Ambient, Neofolk, Darkwave, Noise and all their sub- and similar genres.

© Brutal Resonance 2009-2016
Designed by and developed by Head of Mímir 2016