Artist: Negative Format
CD Title: Moving Past the Boundaries
Label: Metropolis Records
Reviewer: Matthew Johnson
As a collection of catchy trance-infused club tracks, Negative Format’s new album is right on the mark. Starting with the slow crescendos of instrumental intro “Phase In,” this release is a solid collection of EBM and techno crossover tracks, ranging from the mechanized vocals and thumping progressive house of “Spectral Analysis” to the darker-edged EBM stomp of “Focus.” Where it falls short, however, is variety. This disc is well over an hour long, and while any of these selections would fit in well on the dance floor, few of the tracks stand out from the rest of the album as a whole. The individual songs tend to be formulaic as well; the hard trance loops of “Particle Shift,” for example, sound like generic preprogrammed patterns, while “Echo Chamber” is lyrically repetitive despite an interesting use of robotic voice processing. To be fair, there are some interesting moments here. “Sustain” is a slower, more orchestral piece, with melancholy guest vocals provided by Tristesse De La Lune’s Rashree Matson, who also provides backing vocals on “Centralized,” an unexpectedly funky departure from the rest of the album’s melodic but clinical prettiness. Strangely enough, Matson’s vocals add little of interest on “Heterodox,” which is an exemplary hard-hitting techno/EBM track by itself. Despite a few shining moments, though, these songs have a tendency to blur into one giant, indistinct mass of danceable but unexceptional electronics. The craftsmanship is there without a doubt, but there’s not enough creativity to justify listening to 75 minutes of this in one sitting. Save this one for the club; off the dance floor, it just won’t have the same impact.
For more information visit www.negativeformat.com.