Covenant are back with what is perhaps their catchiest single since "Like Tears In Rain." The lead-off to the eagerly anticipated album Skyshaper, "Ritual Noise" has everything the world has come to love about this Swedish band: minimal but catchy electro beats, warm synth tones, and singer Eskil Simonsson's elegantly disaffected baritone, this time augmented with layered and processed background effects. This single features several mixes of the song, including the initial edit, which features more of a house flavor, and a "Version S" with strong synthpop overtones and an emphasis on choral pads and Simonsson's vocals, rather than rhythm. Techno guru and Douglas McCarthy collaborator Terence Fixmer also contributes a mix, letting all of Covenant's repressed European EBM roots out into the open in a burst of rough-sounding beats and mechanical rhythms. There are also two intriguing exclusives. "The Island" is a more a snippet than a song per se, an instrumental interlude of moody synthesizers, while "XRDS" is synthpop gone acid house. You can definitely expect to hear most of these remixes in the clubs, but there's enough diverse material on this CD for non-DJs as well. If this material is any indication of the new album's direction, Skyshaper is going to be just as big as everyone has already predicted.
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