Electron "Tides of Darkness"
Review by Staffan Öhman
The brilliant album cover made by Kaisu Airaksinen (Mark Vera's younger sister) definitely makes this to an interesting album. Electron has been very generous during the latest time and giving us the chance to download many of their songs for free on the web, therefore we are all familiar with their music and we knew that we could expect high quality music from them this time. The release of this album has been mentioned in the forums for almost a year now and let's go through the album part by part and see if it was worth the long waiting.
Unlike many artists in this genre Electron has succeeded to get a unique sound with their special rhythmic drumtrack in combination with some powerful chord playing. Therefore don't expect to find many songs with the traditional 1/16 beat bassline. They shall have a special credit for the melodies and chords as they feel new and fresh and don't include much influences from earlier spacesynth productions, which can't be said about the material from many other artists in this genre.
The tempo and energy is high in most of the songs and unfortunally the album doesn't include any song in the ambiente style, which is a little bit sad as I'm sure that these musicians are capable of that style too. In some of the songs the high tempo feels just too high to be enjoyable and would have sounded better with just a slower tempo. One example is the song Space Walk where the kickdrum is playing so frequently that the listener gets dizzy after listening to the tune for just a minute or two. The weak part on this album is that their unique style with the rhythmic drumtrack doesn't work very good when the tempo is increased above 130 bpm.
The album includes a good variation of sounds and styles and it never feels predictable or boring. The production is well done and both the mixing and mastering sounds ok, eventhough the strings feels too loud in some of the songs. One of their best skills is to make soundpatches and that can for example be heard on the powerful drumsounds and the warm analogue leadsounds. Also the quality of the vocoder material feels ok and I would have appreciated some more vocoder material on the album than just in the title track.
There are lots of good melodies and the longest and strongest ones can in my opinion be found in the track Careless Play where they show their skills of making rememberable melodies. One thing that I'm missing in their songs is some more details, which would have increased the interest to listen to them over and over again. Many of the songs include just the basic tracks (drums, bass, lead and strings) and it would have sounded even better with some more tracks playing in the background, like for example percussion, arpeggios, windsweep, etc.
The strongest songs on the album are in my opinion Lights of Stalingrad and The Victory and even if they are a little bit too repetitive I rate them with the highest grade. They have a nice mood and a strong chord playing that you will remember for a long time after you have turned off your stereo. It is not usual that albums have their best song on the last position, but that is the situation in this case.
It is a little bit difficult to summarize this album and even more difficult to rate it. The majority of the songs have already been available on the web and therefore this album doesn't bring many surprises. The impression would have increased if they would have made remix versions of the already published songs. The weak part that I see on this album is that their rhythmic drumtrack doesn't work so good with the very high tempo. Depending on your musical taste this album is either good or very good. Therefore it is recommended that you visit Alpha Centauri's website and listen to the soundsamples and make your own judgement. Personally I like this well produced debut album and it will be interesting to hear what material that comes out from their studio(s) in the future.