Keywords: EBM, Techno, Electro, New Beat, Illbient
Reviewer: Alex Spalding
The Texas-based Equitant, a former metalhead turned electro/technoir artist and owner of the Black Montanas net label, sent several really cool albums to me during Noise-Joy’s run that were mostly older works of his that he didn’t know what else to do with at the time. I gladly released all of them as they were really cool. This one was probably my favourite, so I wanted to put it back out there first… it was originally put out in 2002 on Equitant’s own label, and it is very well produced.
It begins with ‘Zurich’, in which dark, cold sequenced synthesizers play before a distorted rhythmic bit comes in, followed by heavily effected vocals that sound like a fusion of man and machine. The main groove enters, a heavy 808 pattern. The environment feels mechanical, there are shadowy whispers from out of the cold night air like frozen breath. In the background we hear a buzzing, sawtooth atmospheric, while the beat drops away. After awhile it gets really pretty, like a metropolis made of ice and steel. Disturbingly soft mechanized portions surface later, weaving robotic paranoia.
‘Das Stahl’ begins with splashes of white noise-heavy synths and an arpeggiated bassline, then adding melodic chord stabs and a Kraftwerk-esque electro groove. Techpad sweeps enter, wrapping us up like a blanket of fog. Lots of intense layers of sequencer melodies and Jarre-style leads. I feel like I’m going 90mph on a Kawasaki motorcycle down the Autobahn… in a video game, probably, as you’d likely never see me doing that shit in real life.
‘Desire’ was one of my favourite tracks from this album early on. Hard-hitting electro rhythm pattern, lovely female vox by Erica F., a synth sequence that almost sounds like a piece of metal being scraped, or maybe wind blowing. It’s got that dark electro feel, you could imagine it playing in the seediest clubs; sex and drugs in the bathroom. Everything drops away toward the middle of the track, replaced by a suddenly mechanical cut of Erica F.’s vocals, gradually going from dry to heavily reverberative. They get completely mechanized, echo for awhile, then the beat comes back. So good!
Next is ‘Paris To Berlin’, a serene electronic sequence with synth string harmonies. It’s like a morose and tense moment in a film, full of desperation, trying to get from one place to another. It doesn’t change much for most of the track, though you hear a wind grow louder in the mix. Eventually, all sounds except the wind go away.
‘Electro Noir (Intro)’ is after, beginning with a sustained choir chord and more of Erica F.’s voice, plus some other vocal samples… an oldschool phaser-saw bass lead comes in, and there are strange, electro-modulated voices panned to one side and at a low volume. Only the voices are left by the end, highly robotic…
… and then we come to ‘Electro Noir’, with it’s thick synths and highly stiff, syncopated electro breakbeat, which then becomes more of a 4/4 liquid tech house sounding thing with the extra rhythmic layer. Rumbling strings and electronic growls keep the vibe strictly mechanical and dark. A lot of the synth and hard drum sequences almost sound industrial, giving the music a distinctly EBM feel.
Next track is ‘Seductive’, which sounds like an electronically emulated guitar with robo vocals and a simple kick pattern. Very gradually it builds, but more frequently restrains itself. At one point it drops away into a filter that sounds as if the track has submerged itself in a lake, before quickly returning.
Then it’s the quiet atmosphere of ‘North Of Munich’, with pads like the Aurora Borealis, which are soon replaced with an electro dreamscape with symphonic textures, saw stabs, 808/909 rhythms, modulated vocals that feel more like sounds, aspects of the music rather than a lyrical aspect. It ends with several seconds of silence…
… that lead into ‘Paris To Berlin (Alone Remix)’, which feels vast, spacial, ambient. It doesn’t change too much throughout, but it’s nice.
Not a bad album, probably one you’ll enjoy. This link will take you to where it can be found: