I was resisting putting out a list of the top albums of the year for me, but in reflecting in all of the amazing releases, I decided to share it anyway. I feel that 2010 had some good releases, but not nearly as many as 2011. Every year I find something that I like, but it really does seem like there has been a lot of really different albums that have come out this year that I think deserve to be mentioned. In reading this, please consider, that this has not been voted upon, or is what the public views - these were chosen by me only and I like to dance a lot, so club hits matter to me both as a patron and a DJ. So dont get all butt hurt if you didn’t make it. These are also commercially mastered and released CDs, not unsigned/underground/DIY guys… so be aware of that too.
Chrysalide - Dont Be Scared, It’s About Life (Audiotrauma)
Fractured - Beneath The Ashes (Metropolis)
Aesthetic Perfection - All Beauty Destroyed (Metropolis)
Distorted Memory - Swallowing The Sun( Noitekk/COP International)
Encephalon - The Transhuman Condition CR Review Top Albums of 2011
Encephalon The Transhuman Condition ArtOfFact Records / Dependent Records Available on iTunes
I will admit that I am a little late on picking up the debut album from Encephalon, despite the big name backers and chart topping singles popping up all over the place. I finally broke down and bought it, and I will say that I am infinitely glad that I did. I can see now why it is very quickly making the top lists for 2011 despite being released only a few months ago.
Coming from nowhere, Encephalon has had some mixes here and there on compilations and various remix CDs, as well as a small self release in 2009. “The Transhuman Condition” is a brilliant blend of all of the most popular genres right now. The introductory Track “Rise” is a perfect blend of all of the things that I like about current HarshEBM – really strong bass lines, good synth lines, lots of dance elements, but still a very harsh vocal styling. The next track took me a minute to get in to: “The Transhuman Condition” has a completely different vocal take then the previous track, but it is really catchy. The vocals sound more like the new Shiv-r album, which definitely it isn’t a bad thing. There is definitely some futurepop/Necessary Response influence in there.
You might be asking yourself, “Gee Michael (that’s me), how could a release have some angry boy Harshebm, new-style-shiv-r vocals, some Necessary Response thrown in, and still work and be appealing?” The answer is production quality and continuity. The sound is really super clean and well produced. A lot of HarshEBM tends to be clouded and over complicated (I am guilty of this,) and a lot of future pop for me, especially recently, is really boring. However, “The Transhuman Condition” is a really solid album. It is upbeat, it is dancy, it is angry, and the lyrics are good. These are all things that are extremely import to me – technique, can I dance to it/play it when I DJ, and is it intelligent?
I really cant express the amount of variety there is in this album, I’m down to the 4th track now, “Garden,” and it is again a different vocal styling (slightly,) and it’s kind of Stromkern meets Die Sektor (new Die Sektor.) Definitely in a good way though. Man… I just cant help but think that this album could have gone terribly wrong. All of the elements on their own are very different and usually do not go well together, but they pulled it off very well. Guess it’s time to uproot to Canada.
For fans of: Panic Lift, Necessary Response, Stromkern, Die Sektor, Fractured, Necro Facility, Shiv-r.