MARTINÉ - My Mind: The Hand Grenade
Going back to the late 80's early 90's we were blown away by acts like yelworC, Plastic Noise Experience, Placebo Effect, X Marks The Pedwalk, Trial and many others that inhabited the darker circles of EBM/Electro. There were also plenty of other artists developing their sounds, looking for ways to release their music. One of which was Silent Invasion, that some may remember from the legendary Danse Macabre label. There was a lot of potential, especially with the song arrangements, they really stood out. Musically, at times it was like a mix of A Split Second and early Zoth Ommog paired with numerous samples and vocals that ring with aforementioned artists above. Fast forward through many more years of sound sculpting and experimentation, and we arrive to the next phase of Thomas Martine's sonic journey with My Mind: The Hand Grenade release on Nadanna Records out of Germany.
You may think the label Nadanna was a mistake on my part. Yes their tag line states they are "dedicated to blurring the lines between minimal synth, Italo disco and electro pop". Perhaps it's time to revisit the description of the label now that an EBM/electro artist infiltrated the Italo heavy roster.
MARTINÉ takes an interesting approach to the sound. Musically, it yields a hard and steady electro beat while the vocals are tinged with a menacing yet melodic approach with a monotone feel. Manifesting throughout the album looms a heavy emphasis on the strategy of integrating the sound choices into the layers in a way that intrigues and astonishes the listener. There are segments that are straightforward electro assaults, while there are transitioning points that start to incorporate some fantastic backing layers that merge and bridge the track together.
Some standout examples of why I think this is a solid album reside in the following tracks: "Dues Exodus" pushes the listener into the mix. The swirling layers spiral frantically around the segmented vocal pieces leaving short vocally vacant space for the sound design to flourish and be experienced. Another nice example of this, is evident on "Atmosfear". This track is a bit more melodic with plenty of power and musical prowess. Again, the style of song writing demonstrates a precise method of creation. The integration of backing sound layers merging with the primary layers feeds a beast of creativity. It becomes very noticeable that the artist wants you to really listen. Sure, you can chant "ATMOSFEAR" when the chorus piece arrives, but also take in the sound design that got you to the point of feeling inclined to join in with the chorus. "Eiszeit" awakens more revelry with fluttering keys built into the electro beat that remind me of something out of the late 80's/early 90's EBM/electro world while a sky saw comes out of background cutting its way to the focal point of the track. There are also 3 mixes of the track "Original Sin". All three mixes are solid and fit nicely into the whole. One mix is done by Synaptic Defect also known as Marc Tater. Marc seems like a perfect collaborator for MARTINÉ. Both artists have ear for perfection. Sometimes when an artist remixes a strong track such as "Original Sin" a lot of results can happen. Some good, some great and some so far from the original with very little DNA remaining. It seemed as if Synaptic Defect considered the source material and reworked it just enough to be different yet retain the original overall feel.
I picked a few tracks to highlight here, however any track and its description would have brought us to the same point in the end. Everything on this album is a quality solid rating. I did truly enjoy the entire album, and respect the creative nature of the artist immensely. The only set back from my vantage point rested with how well everything was arranged and how every track was crafted meticulously, but ultimately it followed a predictable pattern which isn't overtly bad, however I felt given what I experienced the skill was there to do more in the end. After listening to the first four or five songs, I was convinced the album was very good and I guess I wanted MARTINÉ go off the rails and explode somewhere within the 16 tracks. Regardless of my high expectations, I would strongly recommend this to those with an ear for the finer details in song design. In the end it's all about what the artist wanted to do and what made them happy, so whatever I think is meaningless. Form your own decision on what moves you. I did rate this an 8/10. I found it better than a good rating (7.5/10) but not quite an 8/10.
The pristine mastering was done by Marco Heinemann and Martin Bowes, and the physical release is limited to 300 CDs with an 8 page booklet with lyrics. Also, the artwork is perfected by Steve Lippert.
MARTINÉ's My Mind: The Hand Grenade will be released on December 9th. You can preorder here for the digital, more information on the CD to follow.
Nov 29 2022
Part time reviewer since 2012 with over 140 contributions with reviews, interviews and news articles.
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