The .invalid - The Aesthetics of Failure
EBM, Aggrotech The Aesthetics of Failure

Silent for a few years, Séamus Bradd made a pretty huge impression on us with 2011's "To:Dust" demo. After this, the project went very, very silent - and this is why. Recently unveiled as DWA's latest signing, Séamus returns with a Double CD - the likes of which scarcely given to a debut release - in fact a feat only performed a small number of times on DWA. If you're reading this, you're already aware of the hype around this release - let's dissect it and see what's going on.

Our love affair with an old friend resumes with the first of two dozen or so tracks, entitled "Deletion". An ambient, swirling introduction leads into an amalgamation of textures and effects, hinting at something big. Out of nowhere, it bursts into a heavily layered number, complete with pounding bass and vocals. It's just glorious - it goes from being a raging tempest into a bathe in a calming lagoon - the comparisons drawn by the community are so accurate - think Die Sektor meets Aesthetic Perfection with vocals mixing Edwin Alter (Die Sektor) and Davey Havok (AFI / Blaqk Audio) - the resemblances are amazing, and even though the vocals may be a contested matter, Séamus can seriously sing and switch styles - something that will blow the audience away on stage.

The second track "Breaksequence" is probably all ready the most well known. Frantic and edgy, it's super melodic, and the glorious synth that the track builds into is one of my favourite sequences of all time. Bradd's voice on here is at its most purchasable, and the track is a gorgeous combination of melody, deep and complex lyrics, and a varying vocal that requires not just pitch awareness, but a seriously stoic constitution to perform. This is a summer track through and through - my car loves it, I never stop singing along, and the pensioners outside the High Street cafe despise it - an instant hit. I just love, love, love this song - I'd pay the full album price to hear this gladly.

Usually with a powerful opening couplet the album has a weaker or calmer track succeeding it. You can probably guess what's gonna happen here - two of the three earlier tracks "Cry Wolf" and "Quantify" follow suit - remastered and updated of course.

"Cry Wolf" is both a blast from the past and a new aural assault - perhaps more traditionally structured, it's a stark reminder of why we all fell in love with this two years ago. It's a) strong and catchy (Just check out that synth that fills the bits between verses), but it's also b) - an exercise in breaking the sequence (Intended) - bands don't usually sing in such contrasting styles - but to have one person doing all of this is something that's essentially very draining - Séamus is renowed for his energy and stamina on stage - so I'll be going to the gig in September for sure!

"Quantify" has a nod towards Glitch and Breakcore, and leans heavily towards the Punk ethos of the project. It's very fast, and is harder to make the lyrics out as a result, but it also shows the more aggressive side of the release. Like every track before it, it differentiates between the verse and chorus hugely, and when the trademark melodic bit kicks in, it REALLY works well.

"As The Sea Turns Black" (gorgeous title) starts with another gentle, ambient style intro, before flirting with gentle Electronic textures - similar to Die Sektor's instrumental numbers, this starts off as gorgeous as the title suggests. When the vocals kick in, they're really slow and intimate, rendering this the first 'ballad' style track on here.

"Not Enough" seems to be one of the fan favourites, going by comments left on various Internet sites. It's very vocal-led, and the Bass on here is extremely deep. For me, this track is absolutely made at 00:57 when it goes apeshit, introduces yet another super melody, and brings in the vocal work that accompanies it, showing the true range of Bradd's vocals. I feel it fair to also draw comparisons to vProjekt - although this release is much more prone to having cleaner vocals, the same ideas and technical ability remain.

"Beyond My Reach" is the 3rd and final track from To:Dust - You can file it in much the same way as "Breaksequence" and "Cry Wolf" - everything is coherent and catchy. From a professional point of view, I'm looking at this release from the prospect of someone not sold on clean vocals, and not keen on the slightly Emo undertones that the album has, and I'm wondering if actually, this could be a problem for certain people. I'm not convinced that people who dislike the above will really be able to find a huge amount of airtime with this release - but there's plenty of tracks still to go, and we've already established that there's definitely no one-trick pony tropes going on here.

"Overstep" might be a good starter for people already critical - it's closer to Grendel and the like than anything else - borrowing far deeper from the convential Ebm / Electro / Industrial material, it still manages to have a unique sound, and it's no doubt The .Invalid.

Club-heavy as the album already is, "Blind Myself" enters a whole new level of danceable. It puts certain Futurepop "classics" to shame with its nitro-like pace, and at one point it even enters the dreaded D-word for a small section of bass-wobbling. It's over as soon as it starts though, so for those Dubstep haters, I'm sure for 10 seconds or so you can just cough or something - this track is far worth more than any text can really convey.

The penultimate track "A Dying Breed" will blow the minds probably more than ever. The huge bass breakdown mid-way is incredible, and Séamus segues it with another demonstration of his vocal range. I really, really did not expect this release to break so many invisible genre walls so easily - it may not be without its faults, but this needed to happen.

The original disc 1 tracks end with "Everything is Fleeting". Static effects lead into an absolutely BEAUTIFUL Piano melody. It's so high in the mix and haunting to hear, the background sounds make it almost bittersweet - it's enough to give goosebumps. I dare say you won't ever hear Bradd singing so poignantly either. It's a truly bleak track, but it's also the most accessible kind of desolate - It closes the original disc so sadly, it's almost like he's sharing our disappointment that it's coming to an end - but realistically, this is more than likely about the passing of someone or something (I hate to backseat speculate, but it's that kind of track that probably has history to it - a real gift of a number).

For remixes, the line-up is truly unique. "Breaksequence" is handled by Witch House act V▲LH▲LL. Absolutely re-written, this features the gorgeous Eastern instrumentation that we expect from the group, but to have it combined with Industrial is pretty unorthodox. This remix is amazing.

"Deletion" is remixed by those wonderful guys at Alter Der Ruine - it starts off completely different, and actually perhaps as good as the original. It has AdR written all over it - it shows no sign of conforming, and it's just great fun - I can tell the guys in Arizona had a blast making this track.

Disc One ends with a remix of "Cry Wolf" by none other than Die Sektor - I guess this is what happens if you divide by Zero - this remix simply has to be epic. Naturally, it has the pretty unique style of Die Sektor written all over it. It's so layered that it could go out in a Blizzard and feel warm. There's already a lot going on, and it's a mad listen. Very impressive.

Errata and Revision

The 12 tracks we're generously given on Disc 2 consist of four more original numbers and eight remixes.
Starting with a remix of "Overstep" by DYM - one of the strongest remixers out there for their technique of completely stripping a song down (check out their Sin D.N.A remix for example), E-N and Arc do not let us down. Glitchy as hell, almost unrecognisable from the original, it's the hectic opener we needed to keep the momentum going.

"Letting Go" is a mirror track for many of the original ones. It builds into a chaotic maelstrom of melody and anthem - no doubt it could have gone on Disc 1, but I digress - we're very kindly given extra, and in this case, most of us will gladly lap it up.

Witch House returns as "Not Enough" is remixed by ∆aimon. Already on the DWA remix books with their flexidisc single for Surgyn, this builds the song around a typically "Drag" style lead, before that gorgeous section at the end that's just morose and full of feeling. For quite a long time now, people have been moving in a WH direction - in some cases abandoning Industrial entirely, and it's been often touted as the next big thing. It's good to see labels also drawing this conclusion, as whatever you may think, it's certainly great to have something different to blend in with.

Australian act Surgyn get to handle "Cry Wolf", giving it a clubbier makeover, and this track gave me a huge lease of life when it comes to remixes. You'll notice that I seldom write much about them, if at all, but for the first time, this album is just full of absolute crackers. It's like the tracks were designed to be re-opened.

Capitalising on where its strength lies, similar act vProjekt also contribute a "remix" - the credits list it as "Overstep (vProjekt Version), and as we haven't heard from Nesci in a while, he's come back with a bang, totally redoing this track with his own style, and massive, massive confidence.

"Decimate" welcomes the original material again, this time taking a much deeper investigation into the Glitch and Breakcore elements. It's written around one solid bass and drum sequence, leading into a crazy mid-section that rivals Dym / Mangadrive / etc. Certainly very, very different, and one that would actually appeal to the purists.

"Fractured" get a go at "Breaksequence", immediately focusing on THAT synth, giving it a more 90's dance style approach. Surprisingly good, this could actually be one of the best ones on here. Especially when that Guitar kicks in later - you'll see!

"Inside I'm Dying" reaffirms the Emo influences that subtly remain dormant in with the .Invalid. It uses heavy vocal effects (Vocoder, I assume?), and this sounds NOTHING like anything on here - not even close. Completely robotic and distorted, I actually didn't believe this was an Invalid track for a while - it's so delicate, but so unusual and processed. It's done deliberately, no doubt, to enforce the concept, and you know, this is kinda cool.

A new act to me, Outsight, give "A Dying Breed" a very heavy Dubstep remix. It seems natural considering the Bass of the original track, and there's times where this track literally screams at you. Impressive remix.

Cygnosic do another remix for "Beyond My Reach", and it has Georg's style all over it. It's SO easy to recognise anything done by the guy, it has it's own unique style, but above all else, this is one of his strongest remixes. An Earworm through and through, it's placed strategically between two killer mixes, and stands tall.

The final remix is "Cry Wolf", by none other than Grendel. One of the best remixes I've heard, it's so, so danceable, trancy and catchy that it almost hurts. Fucking astonishing. While you discover it, we'll talk about the final, final track.

"Endpiece". A name so fitting and obvious that it's almost amusing, this starts off as another gentle ballad, utilising percussion as it closes this epic journey. At the end it breaks up and stutters, glitch style, and we find ourselves saying a fond farewell to one of the true classics of the modern age.

Interestingly, the double irony that this album possesses is what also makes it so interesting. For an album entitled "The Aesthetics of Failure", Séamus does an admirable job in not demonstrating a single one of them.

As for the project name? I could use many words to describe this new era that's been heavily shaped and forged recently, but Invalid is not one i'll ever use to describe this project.

So, so good - so, so necessary. Criticisms are few, but ultimately if you don't like the style, this won't win you over easily. Given time, I think it stands a good shot.
5
Brutal Resonance

The .invalid - The Aesthetics of Failure

The Aesthetics of Failure

Silent for a few years, Séamus Bradd made a pretty huge impression on us with 2011's "To:Dust" demo. After this, the project went very, very silent - and this is why. Recently unveiled as DWA's latest signing, Séamus returns with a Double CD - the likes of which scarcely given to a debut release - in fact a feat only performed a small number of times on DWA. If you're reading this, you're already aware of the hype around this release - let's dissect it and see what's going on.

Our love affair with an old friend resumes with the first of two dozen or so tracks, entitled "Deletion". An ambient, swirling introduction leads into an amalgamation of textures and effects, hinting at something big. Out of nowhere, it bursts into a heavily layered number, complete with pounding bass and vocals. It's just glorious - it goes from being a raging tempest into a bathe in a calming lagoon - the comparisons drawn by the community are so accurate - think Die Sektor meets Aesthetic Perfection with vocals mixing Edwin Alter (Die Sektor) and Davey Havok (AFI / Blaqk Audio) - the resemblances are amazing, and even though the vocals may be a contested matter, Séamus can seriously sing and switch styles - something that will blow the audience away on stage.

The second track "Breaksequence" is probably all ready the most well known. Frantic and edgy, it's super melodic, and the glorious synth that the track builds into is one of my favourite sequences of all time. Bradd's voice on here is at its most purchasable, and the track is a gorgeous combination of melody, deep and complex lyrics, and a varying vocal that requires not just pitch awareness, but a seriously stoic constitution to perform. This is a summer track through and through - my car loves it, I never stop singing along, and the pensioners outside the High Street cafe despise it - an instant hit. I just love, love, love this song - I'd pay the full album price to hear this gladly.

Usually with a powerful opening couplet the album has a weaker or calmer track succeeding it. You can probably guess what's gonna happen here - two of the three earlier tracks "Cry Wolf" and "Quantify" follow suit - remastered and updated of course.

"Cry Wolf" is both a blast from the past and a new aural assault - perhaps more traditionally structured, it's a stark reminder of why we all fell in love with this two years ago. It's a) strong and catchy (Just check out that synth that fills the bits between verses), but it's also b) - an exercise in breaking the sequence (Intended) - bands don't usually sing in such contrasting styles - but to have one person doing all of this is something that's essentially very draining - Séamus is renowed for his energy and stamina on stage - so I'll be going to the gig in September for sure!

"Quantify" has a nod towards Glitch and Breakcore, and leans heavily towards the Punk ethos of the project. It's very fast, and is harder to make the lyrics out as a result, but it also shows the more aggressive side of the release. Like every track before it, it differentiates between the verse and chorus hugely, and when the trademark melodic bit kicks in, it REALLY works well.

"As The Sea Turns Black" (gorgeous title) starts with another gentle, ambient style intro, before flirting with gentle Electronic textures - similar to Die Sektor's instrumental numbers, this starts off as gorgeous as the title suggests. When the vocals kick in, they're really slow and intimate, rendering this the first 'ballad' style track on here.

"Not Enough" seems to be one of the fan favourites, going by comments left on various Internet sites. It's very vocal-led, and the Bass on here is extremely deep. For me, this track is absolutely made at 00:57 when it goes apeshit, introduces yet another super melody, and brings in the vocal work that accompanies it, showing the true range of Bradd's vocals. I feel it fair to also draw comparisons to vProjekt - although this release is much more prone to having cleaner vocals, the same ideas and technical ability remain.

"Beyond My Reach" is the 3rd and final track from To:Dust - You can file it in much the same way as "Breaksequence" and "Cry Wolf" - everything is coherent and catchy. From a professional point of view, I'm looking at this release from the prospect of someone not sold on clean vocals, and not keen on the slightly Emo undertones that the album has, and I'm wondering if actually, this could be a problem for certain people. I'm not convinced that people who dislike the above will really be able to find a huge amount of airtime with this release - but there's plenty of tracks still to go, and we've already established that there's definitely no one-trick pony tropes going on here.

"Overstep" might be a good starter for people already critical - it's closer to Grendel and the like than anything else - borrowing far deeper from the convential Ebm / Electro / Industrial material, it still manages to have a unique sound, and it's no doubt The .Invalid.

Club-heavy as the album already is, "Blind Myself" enters a whole new level of danceable. It puts certain Futurepop "classics" to shame with its nitro-like pace, and at one point it even enters the dreaded D-word for a small section of bass-wobbling. It's over as soon as it starts though, so for those Dubstep haters, I'm sure for 10 seconds or so you can just cough or something - this track is far worth more than any text can really convey.

The penultimate track "A Dying Breed" will blow the minds probably more than ever. The huge bass breakdown mid-way is incredible, and Séamus segues it with another demonstration of his vocal range. I really, really did not expect this release to break so many invisible genre walls so easily - it may not be without its faults, but this needed to happen.

The original disc 1 tracks end with "Everything is Fleeting". Static effects lead into an absolutely BEAUTIFUL Piano melody. It's so high in the mix and haunting to hear, the background sounds make it almost bittersweet - it's enough to give goosebumps. I dare say you won't ever hear Bradd singing so poignantly either. It's a truly bleak track, but it's also the most accessible kind of desolate - It closes the original disc so sadly, it's almost like he's sharing our disappointment that it's coming to an end - but realistically, this is more than likely about the passing of someone or something (I hate to backseat speculate, but it's that kind of track that probably has history to it - a real gift of a number).

For remixes, the line-up is truly unique. "Breaksequence" is handled by Witch House act V▲LH▲LL. Absolutely re-written, this features the gorgeous Eastern instrumentation that we expect from the group, but to have it combined with Industrial is pretty unorthodox. This remix is amazing.

"Deletion" is remixed by those wonderful guys at Alter Der Ruine - it starts off completely different, and actually perhaps as good as the original. It has AdR written all over it - it shows no sign of conforming, and it's just great fun - I can tell the guys in Arizona had a blast making this track.

Disc One ends with a remix of "Cry Wolf" by none other than Die Sektor - I guess this is what happens if you divide by Zero - this remix simply has to be epic. Naturally, it has the pretty unique style of Die Sektor written all over it. It's so layered that it could go out in a Blizzard and feel warm. There's already a lot going on, and it's a mad listen. Very impressive.

Errata and Revision

The 12 tracks we're generously given on Disc 2 consist of four more original numbers and eight remixes.
Starting with a remix of "Overstep" by DYM - one of the strongest remixers out there for their technique of completely stripping a song down (check out their Sin D.N.A remix for example), E-N and Arc do not let us down. Glitchy as hell, almost unrecognisable from the original, it's the hectic opener we needed to keep the momentum going.

"Letting Go" is a mirror track for many of the original ones. It builds into a chaotic maelstrom of melody and anthem - no doubt it could have gone on Disc 1, but I digress - we're very kindly given extra, and in this case, most of us will gladly lap it up.

Witch House returns as "Not Enough" is remixed by ∆aimon. Already on the DWA remix books with their flexidisc single for Surgyn, this builds the song around a typically "Drag" style lead, before that gorgeous section at the end that's just morose and full of feeling. For quite a long time now, people have been moving in a WH direction - in some cases abandoning Industrial entirely, and it's been often touted as the next big thing. It's good to see labels also drawing this conclusion, as whatever you may think, it's certainly great to have something different to blend in with.

Australian act Surgyn get to handle "Cry Wolf", giving it a clubbier makeover, and this track gave me a huge lease of life when it comes to remixes. You'll notice that I seldom write much about them, if at all, but for the first time, this album is just full of absolute crackers. It's like the tracks were designed to be re-opened.

Capitalising on where its strength lies, similar act vProjekt also contribute a "remix" - the credits list it as "Overstep (vProjekt Version), and as we haven't heard from Nesci in a while, he's come back with a bang, totally redoing this track with his own style, and massive, massive confidence.

"Decimate" welcomes the original material again, this time taking a much deeper investigation into the Glitch and Breakcore elements. It's written around one solid bass and drum sequence, leading into a crazy mid-section that rivals Dym / Mangadrive / etc. Certainly very, very different, and one that would actually appeal to the purists.

"Fractured" get a go at "Breaksequence", immediately focusing on THAT synth, giving it a more 90's dance style approach. Surprisingly good, this could actually be one of the best ones on here. Especially when that Guitar kicks in later - you'll see!

"Inside I'm Dying" reaffirms the Emo influences that subtly remain dormant in with the .Invalid. It uses heavy vocal effects (Vocoder, I assume?), and this sounds NOTHING like anything on here - not even close. Completely robotic and distorted, I actually didn't believe this was an Invalid track for a while - it's so delicate, but so unusual and processed. It's done deliberately, no doubt, to enforce the concept, and you know, this is kinda cool.

A new act to me, Outsight, give "A Dying Breed" a very heavy Dubstep remix. It seems natural considering the Bass of the original track, and there's times where this track literally screams at you. Impressive remix.

Cygnosic do another remix for "Beyond My Reach", and it has Georg's style all over it. It's SO easy to recognise anything done by the guy, it has it's own unique style, but above all else, this is one of his strongest remixes. An Earworm through and through, it's placed strategically between two killer mixes, and stands tall.

The final remix is "Cry Wolf", by none other than Grendel. One of the best remixes I've heard, it's so, so danceable, trancy and catchy that it almost hurts. Fucking astonishing. While you discover it, we'll talk about the final, final track.

"Endpiece". A name so fitting and obvious that it's almost amusing, this starts off as another gentle ballad, utilising percussion as it closes this epic journey. At the end it breaks up and stutters, glitch style, and we find ourselves saying a fond farewell to one of the true classics of the modern age.

Interestingly, the double irony that this album possesses is what also makes it so interesting. For an album entitled "The Aesthetics of Failure", Séamus does an admirable job in not demonstrating a single one of them.

As for the project name? I could use many words to describe this new era that's been heavily shaped and forged recently, but Invalid is not one i'll ever use to describe this project.

So, so good - so, so necessary. Criticisms are few, but ultimately if you don't like the style, this won't win you over easily. Given time, I think it stands a good shot. Jul 23 2013

Nick Quarm

info@brutalresonance.com
Writer and contributor on Brutal Resonance

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

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