ARTIST: Negative Format
Moving further into trance territory, Negative Format's newest album is more cohesive than its predecessor, but somehow it's also more varied. Whereas 2005's Moving Past the Boundaries seemed at times overly long and repetitive, Gradients sees band founder Alex Matheu exploring the full spectrum of EBM and trance, both vocal and instrumental, ranging from the almost ethereal melancholy of opening track "Solid State" to the harder-hitting and mechanical "Hues of Grey" to the soaring progressive harmonies of "Origins." The vocal tracks are equally diverse; "Gradient Coils" is thumping modern EBM with science fiction synthesizers and deadpan vocals, whereas "Foundations" is emotive darkwave, with Rashree Matson's emotive singing floating delicately over electronic pianos and layered atmospheric keyboards. "Photon Ring" combines the best of both worlds, with Matson's soprano providing a more melodic counterpoint to Matheu's more robotic delivery. Finishing things up is "Granite," a more minimalist electro offering that provides a nod to classic electronic music that offers a hint of Matheu's early inspirations that might otherwise be lost in the adrenaline-fueled swirl of sleek modernity that fuels the rest of the album. Apart from that little homage, though, this is futuristic electronic music at its best, sure to appeal to fans of EBM and trance alike.
Visit Matheu online at www.negativeformat.com.
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