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Subsonica: Eden

Album Notes

Subsonica kick off their sixth studio album with its captivating title track, built around a Radiohead-like mixture of stuttering, seemingly malfunctioning drum machines and electric guitar ostinato arpeggios, all continuously interrupted by sonic breaks made of well, layers and layers of unknown sounds from all kinds of electronica sources. As disjointed as all that looks, it is somehow extremely catchy in a way Radiohead has not been since OK Computer, and makes up for one of the band's greatest singles. The second number, the Björk-inspired "Serpente," honors its title in its serpentine unfolding. While it deconstructs the pop instincts of "Eden" by pushing forward its weirder elements, the end result is almost as good. Such a great start is rudely brought to a halt by the three following tracks, when the music takes a turn into Prodigy territory, becoming hard-hitting and repetitive. Even worse, lyrics that often walk the line between clever and grating start to lean heavily on the latter side. Fortunately, melody makes a comeback right after this ten-minute industrial interlude, and stays until the end of the album. In fact, but for the fascinating dub experiment "Tra Gli Dei," at times Eden becomes surprisingly close to a pop album by Subsonica standards, with singalong choruses, ballads, and almost straightforward lyrics. It is all pretty good, but never as striking as the album's most original moments noted above. The record comes to a close with a euphoric instrumental track -- used as the main theme for the Volleyball World Cup 2010 -- that sounds like Lalo Schifrin turned techno geek. Recorded in a countryside retreat and overflowing with Biblical allusions to the Garden of Eden, a thread that runs through almost the entire album, Eden's origins and content shockingly contrast with its furiously futuristic music, resulting in an odd vision of a Cyberpunk Paradise. Irony remains a fundamental part of Subsonica's identity in the rewarding Eden, a diverse, daring puzzle of sonic engineering extremely well put together. The deluxe edition adds a bonus disc of tiresome remixes (including seven versions of the title track). It should be skipped by everyone but electronica maniacs. ~ Mariano Prunes


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