This is my 100th post and what better way to mark it by shining a light on Encephalon’s new album Psychogenesis.
We descend spiraling into a new setting, dark, cinematic, smashing idiosyncratically, hammering new time signatures on an acoustic drum set.
There are thunderous sawtooth synths that pulsate and morph along to the rhythm. There’s a militant quality to it. A futuristic landscape.
A dramatic pause.
A Grand piano in a low register hammers away.
Followed by strings and horns blaring. A momentous opening.
Trilling tom toms. All in unison.
The pace and tempo is increasing and the train is running with the brass kicking in to full gear.
Transitional sounds slither around your skull. And the message registers in your ear and it all begins:
“Don’t ever fear or idolize, your life was merely a node, a flickering synapse, a deadlink in a hole”
The vocal joins the brass and piano, strings and it is all punctuated, puncturing in unison. Ever forceful.
The vocoded lyrics have an apocalyptic and prophetic tone, but it speaks of creation as it will never die, with an exquisite crescendo with orchestral strings.
The prophetical verbalizing re-emerges with a warm, explosive, crunchy distorted guitar, that would pick the ear brain of any Messhugah or Tool fan.
“But it’s not such an easy mantra, when it’s your consciousness on the line…”
Exploring the depths of consciousness, creativity, the macro, the micro and the infinite, leaving us to ask:
“…What will I become…”
“What have I left behind?”
The second track opens with atmospherics. Some kinda birds above us. We are definitely in a desert locale. Yes, we are in a Desertropolis.
With a galopping rhythm the track finds it groove. Very guttural vocals on the first verse.
“A Monument of Ingenuity, where innovation could know no bounds…”
“Progress won’t rest.”
It is a future that is anxiously pulling the present through technological means.
The message is clear that if you don’t assimilate and integrate, in a proper way, where you and your mind can flourish, nature will actually be the one maul you out. A kind of survival of the fittest vis-a-vis technology. It leaves one to question ontology and metaphysics. Is it in our nature to progress and rise through technology? And at what cost?
“The terminally distracted public mind, atrophied exponentially…”
“…Who’s left? To say we’ve gone too far to change”
Desertropolis has an interesting song structure. It grows to a cool breakdown with a compelling climax and an interesting dynamic between vocoded/guttural talk, choral samples and singing. A wicked track.
It’s a deep club hit.
This track has a trance-like backbone and instrumentation. It is reminiscent of a VNV Nation sound, except without the overly melodramatic ballad vocal and with meticulous micro-production, surely managed with a pair of nanobot tweezers.
The vocal section is quite anthemic. Once more, it deals with propelling the idea to evolve. There are classic trance-like drum rolls, a catchy chorus. And saw synths that cut like lasers.
“In favor of synthetic luxury, cease to evolve, denied your destiny”
Illuminate tackles the ramifications of denying a synthetic existence, of who may or may not come over to the stage of a techno-based evolution, in a new enlightenment.
The line that stood out for me:
“Your soul and body, mechanically entwined, To be so careless with the fate of your bloodline”
I enjoyed this track at surface level. You can really dance your butt of to it. Moreover, it gets my philosophical, inquisitive mind churning. Leading me to question and reflect. While also leaving listeners to question our present and future of our human condition.
I can see this being a fan favourite. Despite it being catchy, there is a depth. This could easily been a page taken from their first LP The Transhuman Condition.
This is a track that is about a virus – an epidemic. While it seemed topical at first, I think this one was written before the Ebola outbreak. Nevertheless, the theme has an outstanding, futuristic/alien approach. This track has pulsating, stuttering hi-hats, morphing guitar, very cold and clinical. It’s pounding gives a sense of urgency and dread. The Chorus Screams :
while a guttural distorted vocal describes the menacing scenario and it renders a vivid description. Great use of narrative to create jagged and crispy visuals. There’s a back and forth between softly vocoded elements to extreme robotic vocals. I find it is very deliberate and violent. The breakdown has a Synth-poppy 80’s feel with a square synth.
“…Onwards Oblivion, Live to decimate”
This song is destructive. And it is pure caustic energy. This virus will easily be transmitted through unsuspecting ears, in the black sea of night clubs and mosh-pits.
Starscorch seems to take a slice of synthethic inspiration with dubstep-like basslines. Inter-slicing phrasing with multiple synthetic elements. Something in the way it is sung reminds me of Nirvana. Before the chorus strikes there is a cool effect that feels as if the vocal is entering your mind ie. The Starcorched world of the mind.
“No one to follow, We have no one to leave behind”
The chorus aptly makes one feel free in the mind of the creative. The chorus gives a vast anthemic impression of liberty. While the verses are less than ideal and more antagonistic, black and white in contrast to the chorus. Yet, it is a very colourful, uplifting track. Which implies a sense of solace in the mind and creative spirit.
An arpeggiatted steady synth bassline through the track that is ascending and descending is the core of the track. The first preview I heard of this track reminded me of the live version of The Knife’s Heartbeats track but much more thorough in detail.
“Copy, Paste Genome”
Alis’ vocalization is sombre and legato. The passion rips through and she has lines in her phrasing that sound like Siouxie Soux.
Dark, poetic and Sci-fi. This couldn’t be any more up my alley.
The track slowly builds with down tempo crunchy drumming and juxtaposed distorted kick. It has tom-tom percussion to fill the track. There is slithering swooshes to give it an ethereal quality. The beats are subtle.
This track also brings me to another place – a very visual track.
“Like embryonic cells, my hatred incubates with every replicant they make”
Beautiful and awesome to hear Alis on lead vocal.
An upbeat mixture of melodic elements over a seemingly industrial and punk aesthetic. The tempo is something out of a drum n’ bass track at 175 bpm. A pumped track that has an edgy and enraged vocalization. The energy builds and is brought down to half-time.
“I know what happens when you follow your heart, follow your heart!”
The chorus and bridge elements stick in mind as if written with adhesive. Pretty catchy. The theme struggles with relations, the human side of things. This is another track that I feel has the vocal influence of Nirvana emotionally and structurally, but in a way that thematically can only be Encepahlon.
“Rapidly growing older, I’m done here, You won’t be sad to see me go”
When you think the song is complete, it rams you with the chorus again and the robutt voice that has almost lost it’s power but has not lost it’s resolve. Timid melodic mallets and celesta instrumentation under the chorus conclude the episode.
“Your heart was only… biological…”
“We are the sons of God!”
Encephalon doesn’t shy away from creating a clubby dance track. As seen in their first effort. Ultimate Breed is a full on groove, with some Electro flavouring.
I’m certain this track can tear up any mainstream dancefloor.
What I enjoy about it is -well – who sings about merging with the Akashic in a dance track?
Possible genetic tampering?
Encephalon – that’s who!
Creating a club track while still upholding a sense of thematic and lyrical integrity – I like that.
“We have travelled beyond this body, let the record show”
“We know all there is to know”
Nice thumping low end. The guitar at the end is the cherry on the cake.
Dance you freaks! It’s the Ultimate Breed!
I become the Techno Viking each time I listen.
A downtempo track with guitars riffing and mingling between basslines and liquid synthetic lines. I feel Encephalon are keeping mind a sense of the Macro and Micro, with the line:
“If you look close from far away, the world is a cell amongst a galaxy.”
Under a sensual voice, but the tone shouldn’t detract from it’s content. It’s saying once you see the base of things you can examine the greater.
Whatever problems at hand, it benefits one to gather an objective perspective in the “Kingdom”.
Or maybe Encephalon practices Kaballah!
Ecophagy (Nephilim pt 1)
One of the first delights that smacked my lugholes. Again, I feel Encephalon truly have a sense of the Macro and Micro, this being about nanobots. A topic so minuscule but juxtaposed to deluxe proportions. Another cinematic feel with this track. The intro feels organic and I tend to visualize inside of a human body with blood vessels pulsating when I hear it.
“All in it’s path will be devoured, Broken down and reassembled… SMALLER!”
Mammoth descending brass – just whaling, hammering percussive elements and ascending tense string section. And as typical with Encephalon – a relevant vocal sample, and robotic vocalization. The mini robutts have arrived.
Who created this technology? Who ever it was – it will devour it’s host and multiply – there’s no stopping it!
- See “Grey goo“
The Descent (Nephilim pt 2)
This is it. The Climax. In medias res.
Lots of playing around with time structures on this one.
This is Psychogenesis.
Industrial bassline. Check.
Orchestral Elements. Check
Subliminal voices. Check
One Consciousness. Check
The visuals are vivid, psychedelic and descriptive near the end, compounded with the music it is exceedingly dramatic, overwhelming almost.
“..SPIT MY WILL THROUGH!”
I’ll leave you to most of the song but know that by the end of the track, Matt rips a line up sounding terrifyingly psychotic, absorbing and crying, bleeding his soul through a layer in the infinite time space.
You feel the passion shred through every cell of your body.
A challenging first listen. This is perhaps the least accessible, “noisiest” and most detailed track on the album but once you get it, you get it.
Hard to pick favourites, but this is up there.
Atom And Eve
Encephalon enjoy playing with time signatures some more. This has a very orchestral feeling, with brass, strings pizzicato, harps and piano elements. A great mix between aggressive vocal lines and more tender.
“Awaiting the spore to fall from the sky, and harness the core, knowledge divine”
Terence Mckenna raps near the end.
Atom and Eve wraps it up feeling like the credits to a film.
- See Panspermia
- See Stoned Ape Theory
I like albums that take me on an adventure of sorts, to another world. These aren’t just singles, this is definitely a cohesive album. This record does it for me. It serves it in various styles or genres but still with a core of electro-industrial and in ways that are compelling and unique unto itself.
Influences on each track are diverse – which is what separates it all for me, through the multitude of influence you have something original and definitively Encephalon.
It is unique in terms of lyrics, theme and topics. It is a great balance of lyricism, musical experimentation and production quality. Encephalon have also improved their mixing game.
All elements of the sound that I would nitpick now would boil down to my personal preferences. But everything is audible and clear. If you are coming at this from a perspective as an Industrial connoisseur (Prepare for sincerity impact) – never fear! It’s far superior to the quality of mixing found in most industrial material.
It has a repeatability factor. There is so much to dig up, you miss on the first listen it’s impossible to hear and understand everything on the first go.
It can appeal to people that just want to dance or those that are more inclined to think about the full implications of the topics and themes. There is a lot of thought and substance to Psychogenesis. There is a lot of seemingly religious allusion and metaphor as well. This is a gem and I’m extremely picky. Well worth the wait, if you’re an Encepahlon fan.
I hope you enjoyed my review/dissectional. Check it out for yourselves!
Cheers to Encephalon, From here to infinity!
4.5 Nova Spires out of 5.
Lastly, if Encephalon make their way to your city check’em out!