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Reviews CD Reviews Noise C/A/T- The Great Crisis


ARTIST: C/A/T

ALBUM: The Great Crisis

LABEL: Crunch Pod

REVIEWER: Matthew J.

DATE: 1-25-09

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After recent forays into straightforward EBM club material, the latest CD from Crunch Pod label founder Ben Arp's C/A/T project is something of a return to form, but on a much grander scale than Arp has ever attempted. While Arp is no stranger to conceptual releases, The Great Crisis is more than just a series of tracks tied together by common themes; it's an actual narrative, complete with associated website (www.wearestillalive.com) in the same vein as Nine Inch Nails' recent Year Zero opus. Beginning what appears to be a multi-album storyline involving a citywide epidemic, shadowy government agencies, covert military operations, and cover-ups that will incorporate C/A/T as well as Arp's purely instrumental side project, 51X, The Great Crisis has more in common with C/A/T's earlier releases than the vocal-oriented EBM approach of last year's Point of No Return album. "Evidence 294" starts things off with slick cyberpunk ambiance in the vein of recent Front Line Assembly, with sampled television commentators' discussions of possible disease epidemics giving some insight into the album's subject matter. Thumping dance beats pick up to add some adrenaline, and "Evidence 699" segues right into power noise territory, with dark pads providing ominous texture to the lightly distorted drum machine thump. Fans of C/A/T's earliest work will appreciate such quietly sinister offerings as "Encounter X41," with its cinematic creaking and crunchy dub flavor, and "Escape > City Area #589191," all minimalist clanking, muffled speech, and nervous breakbeats. Dance fans needn't fret, either; "Battle Data > 51X_942" is all hard grooves and wailing sirens, and "Escape > Wooded Area #6432" offers just enough techno funk to keep the dance floor filled while distorted trance loops and sparse samples maintain the album's sense of disaster-area tension. While the music on this release is solid throughout, it's the storyline that makes it compelling, with snippets of panicked civilians on "Encounter X32" and gunfire and helicopters on "End of Recording" offering tantalizing glimpses without revealing too much of the plot. This isn't so much a complete concept album as it is the prologue to a much larger story; listen to the tracks, visit the websites, follow the links, and see how much of Arp's disturbing picture you can make out. Before long, you'll be hooked, waiting on the edge of your seat for the next developments. Hopefully Arp won't keep us in suspense for too long, because things are starting to get very intriguing.

Visit www.crunchpod/cat and www.searestillalive.com for more information.


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