Female-fronted EBM acts have become more and more popular of late, with melodious lilting of sopranos providing a more accessible sound than the genre's traditional shouts or processed growls. Based out of Belarus and recently signed to Alfa Matrix, Diffuzion is one of the latest additions to the growing trend. However, though tracks like "Satellites" and "Round" are undeniably pretty, bordering on the moody synthpop of groups like Swarf, Cylab, or even Madonna's work with William Orbit, lead singer Xev is less impressive for her prettier moments than for her ability to imbue her vocals with a strong sense of aggression without losing any of her femininity. Prettiness is easy enough to maintain, so long as you're born with a reasonably smooth voice, but Xev, who has also performed in metal band Vicious Crusade, is far more striking on the slick, high-BPM club-killer "Wired Tunes" or the tense and gritty "No Fear," her vocals intense, insistent, but nonetheless distinctly delicate. This album's most stunning track is "No Passive Isolation," which deliberately distorts Xev's vocals to contrast with the progressive synth lines, letting the instrumental portions carry the melodic weight while the singing provides the song's forward momentum. It's an inversion of the usual formula, and it works well here. By contrast, "Delicious" is much more straightforward club fare, with infectious dance beats and springy-sounding synthesizers, but Xev's attempt at singing seductively falls flat, as if she's just going through the motions. By and large, this is a solid album, and Diffuzion seem to have a knack for hard-hitting dance fare that subverts expectations enough to be interesting while still keeping bodies moving on the floor; it's only when they aim for what seem to be the latest trends that they come up short. Hopefully they'll hang on to the natural confidence that shines through this album's best moments.
Visit Diffuzion online at www.diffuzion.org.
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