Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Review: Black Line – 'Treason, Sedition, And Subversive Activities'

'Treason, Sedition, And Subversive Activities'

The coming together of two respected musical artists to create something brand new is often a joyous thing. Though these kind of projects are often loaded with pre-conceived notions rooted in their respective back catalogues, the end results can sometimes be much better than expected. Black Line is such a project. The legendary Douglas J. McCarthy (Nitzer Ebb) and musician / producer / engineer Cyrusrex, the collaboration had its roots in their previous project DJM|REX. But it became apparent quickly that their continually evolving and open studio/live line-up meant this was becoming an entirely different beast. Thus Black Line was born.

The result is a brilliant modern merging of one of electronic music's most recognisable voices, and cutting edge electronic music that melds glitchy rhythms, synthpop leads and sheer technical experimentation to create an engaging, high-spec and genuinely engaging album.

Songs such as 'Sedition', 'Keep Digging', 'No Crime', 'Shut It Down', 'Can't Breathe', 'Layers', and 'Changed' give the album a solid back bone of relentlessly catchy dance-friendly numbers that frame McCarthy's passionate vocal style with fresh sounds. But there is a deep experimental side to the album with tracks such as 'No Crime Prelude', 'Layers Interlude', 'First Moment', and 'Final Moment' showing that there is a lot more going on here than the intelligent yet dance friendly surface. The result is something that mixes the dark experimental edge of How To Destroy Angels with the sublime elegance of Noir.

The production is second to none. It may be a self-released album at this point in time but you could easily imagine a label like Mute or Raster-Noton unveiling this with great fanfare as it is. It's cutting edge, modern electronic music and is presented and produced as such.

This is a brilliant debut that promises great things moving forward the collectivised nature of the project can only yield unexpected twists and turns as they move through future releases. But in the present 'Treason, Sedition, And Subversive Activities' is a fantastically strong starting point.  

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