The Industrialism – Surrealistic Cityscapes (Siro621)

The Industrialism - Surrealistic Cityscapes

What bothers me about the front cover of Surrealistic Cityscapes by The Industrialism is the figure of the person who looks as if they are about to approach us from the street ahead. Almost daily I am accosted by strangers asking me for cigarettes. Unfortunately, my policy has been nearly always to say “yes”, memories of my juvenile delinquency and addiction still very fresh in the mind. I can empathize with desperation and always hated putting someone else out of their own smokes, though that’s just the nature of the world of smoking. You know… looking at the blown up copy of the image, what I thought was a person seems to actually be street posts. Still… cool album art anyway.

Artist: The Industrialism
Title: Surrealistic Cityscapes
Label: Sirona-Records
Cat#: Siro621
Keywords: Future Garage, 2-Step, Ambient, Electronica
Reviewer: Alex Spalding

I wanted to discuss this album, by The Industrialism, who is a fellow-traveler among surrealist cityscapes and an avid collector of vintage electronic gear, synthesizers and the like. There is something about old synthesizers, particularly the massive, beastly ones that were typically owned by studios, the privately wealthy or superwizards due to their equally massive price-tags, that were perfect for crafting dystopian / future-noir cityscape soundtracks. Think John Carpenter, Vangelis’ soundtrack for Blade Runner, the soundtrack to Trancers (one of my all time favourites for still not being so well known, though it is good enough that it could be… I think I’ve mentioned it before), among others. However, this album isn’t necessarily dystopian; the feel of it is certainly far more surreal, far less entropic or anguished, and is much like an imaginative soundtrack to an isolated stroll through a ghost city… I guess old synthesizers are good for this kind of soundtrack, too! Abandoned, occasionally ominous faces of tall buildings peer at you through black windows like eyeless sockets. There are no vehicles to interrupt your nightly sojourn in the urban sprawl of your dreams. What do you see when you open your eyes to such a world? And how might the soundtrack to this world modify the familiar one we believe to be real? The dividing line between these two cities, one of mind and the other of flesh and mortar, is made very wide indeed by the sounds of Surrealistic Cityscapes. For the remainder of this review I will be your temporary guide and accompaniment through the lost concrete paths. Shall I wear the visage of the worldly and eccentric stranger, the Situationist? Or, better, maybe it will be the persona of an old friend I will assume. This will be a somewhat romantic trip then, whoever you are dear reader… because all time is like that, I think — especially the time created by an album like this one!

We start walking, and the air seems to crackle with energy, like a tape loop… anything could happen. ‘(in)’ narrates the beginning of our experience, fomenting an anxiety regarding a dream of this day, that is not actually this day. I had to check behind the dumpster to make sure we could proceed.

It’s good to get a pace going… rhythms with disjointed rims and reverberation meet us at the start of ‘Extracurricular Comfort’. The deep hum of street lights pass frequently. You can smell nostalgia along these roads. Beautiful pads, like thoughts welling up inside, in the loneliness and dark. For a moment I believed I saw something. We pause, hearing only the murmur of deep ambiance and tape hiss… must have been nothing. Moving along…

… we’ll take a left up here, to come out at ‘Wrenching Depression’. Space opens up, with warm gushing synthesizer bass. Potholes are steaming and the dereliction of the avenue is thoroughly depressive. A bit of dub echo on the rims, like broken bits of rubble. Shadows move in our peripheral vision and the feeling of being watched is thick. Our hands are in our pockets, our only guard against the mild chill. I decide to stop and light a cigarette… was that a train we just heard in the distance somewhere? Didn’t know they ran this late. Maybe we chat about gentrification, urban ecology, revolution, or weave seemingly plausible scenarios regarding how the many vacant buildings surrounding us might be revitalized and put to interesting use, as if we were rogue, countercultural property investors and not just a couple of transient artists. I’m assuming you’re an artist… if you’re not yet, maybe you should think about becoming one. 😛

There have been many who have likened the city (whichever one) to a companion, or lover, or friend. We reach ‘Monochromic Love Making In 4 Drops’. Our straggling downtempo shuffle continues to carry us. Warm, soft pads drift around… the city seems to speak here, forever reaching out to it’s wanderers with a soft embrace of gentle neon signage and a smoothly worn but uncracked sidewalk, as if conscious of us somehow and attempting to also ease us into a transition from the disintegrating bloc we left behind to something more pleasant. String pads, like cosmic star light, pour down upon us from above.

Then we are ‘(between)’, or it feels we are, wrapped in a shroud of lovely synth harmonies that rise up gradually and last only briefly. It is of a metaphysical nature, night air growing colder and causing an exhilaration of the senses, a heightened awareness that we also see is partly illusory, so are wise not to fully intoxicate ourselves on.

‘Down The Morning Where Love Glides I’ is like the epiphany that sunrise is soon to come, creating anticipation. The streets here look beautiful… maybe roses are housed in a florists’ shoppe window. Birds are starting to wake, talking to one another. The synths are like a fresh breeze, a dew-coated 5:00 AM…

… which continues with ‘Down The Morning Where Love Glides II’, a track that features another artist by the name of Bruno Belfort, who I assume is doing the low key vocals. The rhythm here is a bit of that stagger that comes with so many hours of wakefulness. Large drops of rain seem to gather on the pavement. We run to take refuge below an awning, escaping just before the downpour, while simultaneously asking ourselves why people do that? It’s just rain, after all.

A tape crackle and a woman’s confession / experiences of violence begin on ‘(out)’… there’s a rhythm floating in and an ambiance of abstraction. What a strange end to our dream!

This album… very cool, very chill, very atmospheric, and very worth taking with you on a walk around the city, township, suburb division, ruralscape, cratered planetary body or wherever it is that you live or happen to be at any given moment. It’s just got a great vibe for that sort of thing. With that, I will implore you to put it on your download queue and explore your world some time. You can find it at this link:

http://archive.org/details/siro621TheIndustrialism-SurrealisticCityscapes

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