Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Album Review: 'Steampunk Cybercrunk' by Dataphiles

Dataphiles, a resident of South London, is an independent music producer, sound designer, and self-proclaimed Reaktor mangler. Utilizing an astounding amount of textures, Dataphiles manages to create a very unique sound amongst electronic artists. Blurring the lines between conventional traits of digital audio workstation productions, it's quite apparent through sounds used, this artist is a lover of music.

As stated on his Bandcamp page:

"Steampunk Cybercrunk is based on the concept of two realities colliding: the alternate past of infinite opportunity that is Steampunk and the laser laden, futuristic but dystopian world of Cyberpunk. It combining elements of electro-swing, dubstep, house and classical music to create a fresh approach to the electronica EP."

While I do feel this album does represent two different worlds of audible nourishment, it feels much more vast than that. Each track feels like a strong representation of influence, even if it's hazy on where it came from or how it functioned in the grand scheme of the album's tone. Which truly makes me think that even the slightest, shortest sample picked up by our senses can create the most dramatic of differences in how we perceive audio in any given space or time.

"Beep Beep Baby":

Bell ringer? Electro-Swing is in the house. If you're a fan of Parov Stelar, The McMash Clan, or Gramatik...you're going to dig this. The chopped up brass contorted with sidechaining basses and all manner of unusual percussion make this a delightful groove that doesn't take much effort to jive to. And while it does progress and add variety to the percussion throughout the tune, it doesn't really introduce much melodic variation. Subtle diversity enumerates growth in a artistic expression and while I do feel this is a tune meant mainly for the dance floor - and not at an isolated location in a garage - hearing it as a critic/nit-picker: the inclusion of a key change might've worked well at 2:45 after the breakdown.

"Remember Me":

Emphasizing a much darker, minor tone, "Remember Me" reminds me of early Unreal Tournament music. A driving, murky tune that accentuates mellow yet distressing hints of general eeriness. It's hard to pin down a mood for this one, honestly. It's like if Nine Inch Nails mixed with Maniacs of Noise. Not much else to say about this one, I can dig it!


Oh yes, breaks. Breakbeat. Breakwinning more like it. I love breaks, everything about them gets me hyped up for something. This song, introducing - as you might have guessed - a synthesized harp, creates a familiar yet distant approach to a genre I cherish greatly. Good chopping on the drums, the disjointed breakdown (at 2:04) really adds an uncommon rhythm to this style of music. Reminiscent of a good friend of mine...this song hits a soft spot for me, and is my favorite track on this collection. I'd gladly listen to this song over and over and over.

"Waltzing with the Devil":

Being the longest track on the EP, it's no surprise that it also features the most amount of variation of any track. So here's my narrative take on this track: A robot, a self aware robot named B0b was slumping his way across the dystopian, futuristic city of Kwan Loong, when he came across a hooded figure on the side of the street. The hooded figure began talking to B0b, but when he couldn't understand (not being programmed to understand English), the hooded figure began playing a tune on his fiddle. With excitement, B0b walked with the stranger, understanding very little of this magical talent when the hooded figured handed the fiddle to B0b, and struck a deal saying, "My power could be yours, if your free-will is bound to me." B0b looked at the stranger and glared back at the fiddle, analyzing the hooded figure's lip movement to the electromagnetic pulses emitted by the fiddle and suddenly figured out the intention. In an instant, the robot had gained all he needed recreating a history of all the previous notation that had been played by the hooded figure, and handed back the fiddle...walking off into the distance.

A very pleasant and original tune, this one.

This is certainly one of the more original albums to head in my general direction. I'm always happy to hear something new but I'm obligated to review accurately. The general production of this album is good: There is no clipping and all tracks remain sonically cohesive. The tracks serve as a platter of unique resonance and for the most part, it would be enjoyable to everyone who doesn't wish to listen with a sense of constructive criticism in mind. While I would've preferred a bit more headroom in "Harpsix" to widen the sound of the track, that does not make it a bad track. Production and arrangement are two very different things, and if the world listened more closely to the two elements presented in most digital music...it'd be a happier place. Or not.

Regardless, this is an album that is worth listening to, in my honest opinion. The potential for this artist can only grow from here and I anticipate hearing his future endeavors!

Thanks for reading!


I give this album a 8.4 out of 10.

Follow Dataphiles:

Homepage: http://www.dataphilesmusic.com/
Bandcamp: http://music.dataphilesmusic.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dataphiles/114814585297
Twitter: https://twitter.com/dtplrecords
Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/dataphiles

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