Thursday 3 October 2013

Review: Solitary Experiments – 'Phenomena'


The near 20-year German veterans sufficiently whetted appetites with the precursory EP release of 'Trial And Error' earlier in the year. Now its time for the main course in the form of the band's newest full-length studio release 'Phenomena'. The red-shirted quartet of Solitary Experiments are a band that have always deliver the goods. Their dance friendly blend of synth-pop, ebm, trance and goth has seen the band amass an enviable back catalogue. But just where does 'Phenomena' fit in to it?

Well its blatantly obvious from the start that the band are going to be on top form. The instrumental opener 'Tilting At Windmills' is a nice and hard track that drips old school ebm and industrial and makes for a brave choice as an opener due to its three-minute length. The band then ease fans into the true pace of the album with the exceedingly addictive 'Salvation' and the trance-orientated 'Trial And Error', both of which exude that big club filling sound the band have made their own. While 'Epiphany' balances hard beats, sombre vocals trance leads and the pop quality of The Crüxshadows. 'Quicksand' changes things up a little with a more classic ebm meets Depeche Mode sound that pushes the sing-a-long lyrics quite hard. 'Game Over' provides a slightly harder take on the formula, while the likes of 'Now Or Never' and 'Beacon Light' feature a more airy and reverential atmosphere. The band then head straight back into pure dance-friendly tracks with 'Steering Wheel' and 'Stars' resurrecting the energy of the album's earlier offerings. The album finally rounds thinks off with the mid-paced sombre pop of 'Liebe Deinen Traum'.

This is a nicely varied but consistently paced album that offers up a selection of songs that tick the boxes for both club play and liver performance. The production and mixing is solid throughout and allows the styles at play to blend together.

There is a problem with its consistency though, as the album doesn't really throw any curve balls that make the listener sit up and take notice. Instead it has a kind of “best of” vibe to it that kind of dulls an extended period of listening. However it is undeniable that in terms of song writing and performance, 'Phenomena' is a fine milestone for the band which features plenty of memorable tracks that will surely become fan favourites.  

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