Music Reviews & Commentary

"A dark culture sampler" is a good way of describing people who play with music with the lights off and ear-plugs in. An overall bland sampler of the bands from the Pacific Northwest. Out of 16 tracks, only a slim handful scream "Hey, we have potential!" and out of those only three or four really scream "HAAAAIIII!!!!" From Noxious Emotion to the MC 900Ft Jesus versus Industrial music sound of Attenuated Euphoria (MC Death) to Thine Eyes. After all that wading, the last track is the one track that makes everything worthwhile. mfd breaks down distorted Drum'N'Bass like Somatic Responses and Dryft. Someone to surely keep an eye on for the future. (Mute! Magazine)

Transcendence is another compilation that showcases the electronic talent of bands that hail from the Northwest. Some of the bands (SMP, Noxious Emotion, Lateral Tension, and OMNIbOX) are more prevalent in the scene than others, but all represented have parallel musical talent. First off is SMP with Finished. This hard-hitting, pulse-pounding piece is ripe with thumping, hip-hop beats, crunchy electronics, and angst-ridden vocals. Jason, Sean, and Matt have been creating militaristic dancefloor anthems for many years and Finished is no exception to this pattern. More reliant on structure and programming, Noxious Emotion's Inertia (Tweek Mix) sports dense beats, dark vocals, and crisp electronics.

Antifreeze by Anchorage residents Parallax1 is an erratic piece that has a multitude of electronics all slammed together to create an angry and volatile composition. Pet of the Future calms things down with Torchlight, a easygoing track with melodic electronic elements and soft vocals laid upon a mild beat. Triple Point's Stolen (Winter-mix) is another less abrasive track that focuses on nimble synths and quieted, distorted vocals. Taken from the album of the same name, Pressure Device by Lateral Tension is a kickback to old school Americanized industrial. Cascading synth lines are coupled with raw, untreated vocals, and a catchy beat on this, the highlight of Transcendence.

More coldwave in nature, Mediator by OMNIbOX combines backing guitars, spacey effects, horrific samples, jumpy electronics, and natural vocals. Judging by the band name, I half expected Tri-State Killing Spree's contribution to be one of the angrier pieces on this CD, but I was pleasantly surprised when I heard Chance. This airy piece is caught somewhere between darkwave and electro. A trotting beat, Cure-esque guitar work, mild electronics, and genuine vocals are all connected on this docile piece. Please by Written in Ashes follows a similar pattern as Chance, but unlike Chance, Please falls squarely into the gothic / darkwave category. Whimsical guitars, live drums, and buoyant vocals are the staple elements found within Please.

Although the intro seems a tad too lengthy, Once Scissors (Unquiet Remembrance) by lxl gets going it becomes quite pleasant. Imagine IDM rhythms mixed with darkwave vocals, and electro synths and you'll be on your way to understanding what this track sounds like. Fiercen's Altruist (HorrorsOfConscience) is a dancey piece with a solid rhythmic backbone and an array of fluctuating synth sounds. -Oend by Thine Eyes / mi is an IDM track that manages to squeeze in more sound variety than any other track on this CD. This is a very weird, interesting, and addictive piece.

The only non-US representation on Transcendence comes from Vancouver resident Craig Joseph Huxtable and his project entitled Landscape Body Machine. Subterranean 2 (The Terraforming) is a technotic piece with a splash of ambient. Definitely late-night music. Throw Me a Line by (Diao) utilizes the distant, echoing vocal approach combined with an African styled, tribal beat and minimal electronics.

A sluggish beat, spoken-word vocals, and minimal electronics are what make Sordid Illusion by Attenuated Euphoria. Finishing off the CD is Helplessrmx by MFD, an evil sounding instrumental that incorporates horrific vocal samples into the mix to give it it's edge. Seeing as how the variations of music on Transcendence may not appeal to everyone, it still gives us a chance to hear the different music stylings of 16 bands who call the Northwest part of the US home. (Well, with the exception of the singular Canadian act.) (Industrial Bible - Dachar)

After a brief silence in releasing music, Doppler Effect is back with a brand new compilation entitled Transcendence, which they describe as "A Dark Culture Sampler" on the front of the packaging. Transcendence contains 16 tracks of diverse electronic music, mixing styles of Gothic, Industrial, Electro Noise, EBM, and Crossover.

Long-time Seattle-based act SMP kicks things off right with "Finished," a track from their latest album Terminal. "Finished" is an industrial/rap dance track with the usual SMP touches of hardcore beats, cut up samples and rapcore vocals. Other notable appearances on Transcendence include Noxious Emotion with the track "Inertia (Tweek Mix)" and the ultra-cool Lateral Tension track "Pressure Device." I was also quite happy to see lxl apppear on the compilation with the track "Scissors (Unquiet Remembrance)," because I think he's one of the most overlooked talents in the scene today. lxl creates very beautiful and original work, one to look out for in the future, for sure. Another one of my favorite bands, Thine Eyes, appear on the compilation as well with the track "-oend," which showcases their great ear for clicky electro noises and IDM rhythms.

There are even a few slower Gothic tracks towards the middle from Tri-State Killing Spree with "Chance," which has some very relaxing gothic vocals and soothing guitars, or the following track from Written in the Ashes, "Please."

Doppler Effect provides quite a diverse mixture of dark music with Transcendance that showcases some of the newer, underground acts out there that don't quite get the attention they deserve, but should. It's a good compilation for people looking for some of the evolving talent in the underground scene. (Wetworks - Gunhed)

A collection of chilly industrial techno fare (what some once called the cold wave) from the Pacific Northwest (I'm counting Alaska and British Columbia in that designation). It's always a pleasure to hear something new from SMP (first track, even), and to tell the truth, most of the other tracks here lived up to that opening song.

There's always been a fertile electronic/industrial community in that part of the world. I've reviewed plenty of bands from up there, and not many of those are on this set. Just proves there's a lot more where the earlier good stuff came from.

A solid set from start to finish. This collection presents a bevy of talent, all worthy of more than a second listen. This is one of the few compilations that illuminates, and it does so brilliantly. (Aiding & Abetting)

The third in the series of samplers from the Pacific Northwest. The first one encompassed only Portland bands (where the label is based) and was titled Undercurrent. The second compilation expanded its scope to include bands in Washington and Oregon, and was titled Resurgence. The third release, and the last in the series is titled Transcendence, and expands the scope even further to include artists from Alaska, and British Columbia, as well as Oregon and Washington.

All in all, its a fairly solid comp, accomplishing all it set out to do. The artists span many different styles, and genres as its unifying theme is region rather than style. But, this particular region is a hotbed of really good artists, and compilation features the best of them. Even though the styles wander all over the place, there is a certain amount of 'flow' to it, so you can slip the CD on and enjoy a musical meandering of style and form, but never be really jarred out of your groove. Stars that steal the show on this disc are SMP, OMNIbOX, Thine Eyes/ml, and Landscape Body Machine. Disappointments are Written in Ashes, and lxl. (but that may have more to do with my musical tastes than anything else, as I prefer the EBM styles..)

Overall the disc is solid, and is worth a listen to see what the Pacific Northwest is up to. EEEI - Badger)

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