Music

Burst: Origo

Chaos and beauty collide on what is certain to be the Swedish band’s breakthrough disc.


Burst

Origo

Label: Relapse
US Release Date: 2006-02-07
UK Release Date: 2005-10-24
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As the lines between the many different subgenres in extreme music continue to blur, lately it’s been those bands that choose to incorporate different styles into their music that end up generating the most buzz. Granted, traditionalism is, and has always been a big part of heavy metal, but although it’s good to have a bunch of acts we can rely on for some skull-crushing doom, bludgeoning death metal, or simple, All-American metalcore, it’s the mavericks out there trying to test the limits of this kind of music who are most responsible for the genre’s continuing evolution, and ultimately, provide us with the most thrills. Young bands, such as The Dillinger Escape Plan, Mastodon, Between the Buried and Me, and Cursed all perform music that, while fitting neatly under the all-encompassing metal umbrella, are impossible to stick into any single subcategory whatsoever, and consequently, it’s no surprise that these bands are among the best the metal world has to offer.

Sweden remains one of the world leaders in cutting-edge metal music, but even there, despite the proficiency of Opeth, In Flames, Nasum, and Arch Enemy, there are not nearly as many prominent bands who display the same kind of audacity as their North American counterparts. It appears that’s all going to change quickly, though, thanks to Gothenburg’s Burst, who, after a long formative period, have finally hit their stride, and have provided us with one of the finest metal releases of 2006 thus far.

Of course, when you have a band comprised of a death metal aficionado, a black metal fan, a devotee of ‘80s American thrash, and the former bassist from grind legends Nasum, you’ll probably wind up with some rather eclectic results. Formed in 1993, it wasn’t until 2001’s Conquest: Writhe that all the ingredients began to gel, and on the excellent Prey on Life, released two years later (their first for American label Relapse), people started paying serious attention to the quintet, the album featuring Isis-style waves of soaring, melodic guitars meshing with Linus Jäkerskog’s hardcore screams, as the band executed deft tempo shifts much like Mastodon. On the new record, Origo, however, Burst have made the leap from promising metal act to one of the genre’s brightest young talents, making the acclaimed Prey on Life sound two-dimensional in the process.

Complex, yet completely accessible (the hallmark of any good progressive metal album), Origo boasts a much more stylistically rich sound, not to mention some punchy yet refined production courtesy Fredrik Reinedahl (In Flames) and Henryk Lipp (Kent), as the band draw from a wide musical palette, yet at the same time displays restraint, something rare in extreme music. Nowhere is this more evident than on the opening track “Where the Wave Broke”, which is constructed around a simple, yet boldly un-metal riff that blends post punk cool with Converge-like hardcore aggression. The Isis influence remains strong in places, especially on the beautifully melancholy “The Immateria”, as waves of distortion commingle with thunderous, tribal percussion, but Burst’s songs remain much more compact than those of Isis, and the band employs melodic vocals especially well, with guitarist Robert Reinholdz handling the “clean” singing, best exemplified in “The Immateria”’s final movement. The doubletime fury of “Slave Emotion” begins with moody black metal chords in the verses, only to shift to death metal staccato when the chorus rolls along, while “Flight’s End” is dominated by a descending central riff that’s more doom-inspired, and “Homebound” juxtaposes the sound of Neurosis’s Through Silver in Blood with sumptuous melodies that eventually make the song sound more optimistic than gloomy.

Origo pulls out all the stops during its final third, achieving an Opeth-like grandeur, first with the instrumental “It Comes Into View”, as organ underscores chiming guitars, slide guitar harmonies mesh with acoustic guitars, hints of electronic beats offset ambient drones, and ornate dual guitar harmonies bring the song to a close. “Stormwielder”, conversely, is expertly executed metalcore ferocity, as the band’s skillful use of hardcore riffs and beats, classy melodies, as well as the ubiquitous breakdowns and the downtempo outro, elevates the song much higher than your usual cookie-cutter kiddiecore. “Mercy Liberation”, meanwhile, concludes the album in style, beginning with a stirring, not to mention astonishing, Western-themed intro directly inspired by the work of composer Ennio Morricone, and concluding with a stomping coda drawing from mid-‘80s Metallica.

Burst pull out so many musical ideas over the course of this album, that it’s surprising to realize that the CD is only 40 minutes long, and so focused and economical is the music, it seems that hardly a second is wasted. It may have taken the band a good dozen years to find themselves, but Origo proves that it was well worth the time and effort.

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The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

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Music

The Best Dance Tracks of 2017

Photo: Murielle Victorine Scherre (Courtesy of Big Beat Press)

From the "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique to Stockholm Noir's brilliant string of darkly foreboding, electro-licked singles, here are ten selections that represent some of the more intriguing dance offerings of 2017.


In June of 2016, prolific producer Diplo lambasted the world of DJ's in an interview with Billboard, stating that EDM was dying. Coincidentally enough, the article's contents went viral and made their way into Vice Media's electronic music and culture channel Thump, which closed its doors after four years this summer amid company-wide layoffs. Months earlier, electronic music giant SFX Entertainment filed bankruptcy and reemerged as Lifestyle, Inc., shunning the term "EDM".

So here we are at the end of 2017, and the internet is still a flurry with articles declaring that Electronic Dance Music is rotting from the inside out and DJ culture is dying on the vine, devoured by corporate greed. That might all well be the case, but electronic music isn't disappearing into the night without a fight as witnessed by the endless parade of emerging artists on the scene, the rise of North America's first Electro Parade in Montréal, and the inaugural Electronic Music Awards in Los Angeles this past September.

For every insipid, automaton disc jockey-producer, there are innovative minds like Anna Lunoe, Four Tet, and the Black Madonna, whose eclectic, infectious sets display impeccable taste, a wealth of knowledge, and boundless creativity. Over the past few years, many underground artists have been thrust into the mainstream spotlight and lost the je ne sais quoi that made them unique. Regardless, there will always be new musicians, producers, singers, and visionaries to replace them, those who bring something novel to the table or tip a hat to their predecessors in a way that steps beyond homage and exhilarates as it did decades before.

As electronic music continues to evolve and its endless sub-genres continue to expand, so do fickle tastes, and preferences become more and more subjective with a seemingly endless list of artists to sift through. With so much music to digest, its no wonder that many artists remain under the radar. This list hopes to remedy that injustice and celebrate tracks both indie and mainstream. From the "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique to Stockholm Noir's brilliant string of darkly foreboding, electro-licked singles, here are ten selections that represent some of the more intriguing dance offerings of 2017.

10. Moullinex - “Work It Out (feat. Fritz Helder)”

Taken from Portuguese producer, DJ, and multi-instrumentalist Luis Clara Gomes' third album Hypersex, "Work It Out" like all of its surrounding companions is a self-proclaimed, "collective love letter to club culture, and a celebration of love, inclusion and difference." Dance music has always seemingly been a safe haven for "misfits" standing on the edge of the mainstream, and while EDM manufactured sheen might have taken the piss out of the scene, Hypersex still revels in that defiant, yet warm and inviting attitude.

Like a cheeky homage to Rick James and the late, great High Priest of Pop, Prince, this delectably filthy, sexually charged track with its nasty, funk-drenched bass line, couldn't have found a more flawless messenger than former Azari & III member Fritz Helder. As the radiant, gender-fluid artist sings, "you better work your shit out", this album highlight becomes an anthem for all those who refuse to bow down to BS. Without any accompanying visuals, the track is electro-funk perfection, but the video, with its ruby-red, penile glitter canon, kicks the whole thing up a notch.

9. Touch Sensitive - “Veronica”

The neon-streaked days of roller rinks and turtlenecks, leg warmers and popped polo collars have come and gone, but you wouldn't think so listening to Michael "Touch Sensitive" Di Francesco's dazzling debut Visions. The Sydney-based DJ/producer's long-awaited LP and its lead single "Lay Down", which shot to the top of the Hype Machine charts, are as retro-gazing as they are distinctly modern, with nods to everything from nu disco to slo-mo house.

Featuring a sample lifted from 90s DJ and producer Paul Johnson's "So Much (So Much Mix)," the New Jack-kissed "Veronica" owns the dance floor. While the conversational interplay between the sexed-up couple is anything but profound, there is no denying its charms, however laughably awkward. While not everything on Visions is as instantly arresting, it is a testament to Di Francesco's talents that everything old sounds so damn fresh again.

8. Gourmet - “Delicious”

Neither Gourmet's defiantly eccentric, nine-track debut Cashmere, nor its subsequent singles, "There You Go" or "Yellow" gave any indication that the South African purveyor of "spaghetti pop" would drop one of the year's sassiest club tracks, but there you have it. The Cape Town-based artist, part of oil-slick, independent label 1991's diminutive roster, flagrantly disregards expectation on his latest outing, channeling the Scissor Sisters at their most gloriously bitchy best, Ratchet-era Shamir, and the shimmering dance-pop of UK singer-producer Joe Flory, aka Amateur Best.

With an amusingly detached delivery that rivals Ben Stein's droning roll call in Ferris Bueller's Day Off , he sings "I just want to dance, and fuck, and fly, and try, and fail, and try again…hold up," against a squelchy bass line and stabbing synths. When the percussive noise of what sounds like a triangle dinner bell appears within the mix, one can't help but think that Gourmet is simply winking at his audience, as if to say, "dinner is served."

7. Pouvoir Magique - “Chalawan”

Like a psychoactive ayahuasca brew, the intoxicating "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique's LP Disparition, is an exhilarating trip into unfamiliar territory. Formed in November of 2011, "Magic Power" is the musical project of Clément Vincent and Bertrand Cerruti, who over the years, have cleverly merged several millennia of songs from around the world with 21st-century beats and widescreen electro textures. Lest ye be worried, this is anything but Deep Forest.

In the spring of 2013, Pouvoir Magique co-founded the "Mawimbi" collective, a project designed to unite African musical heritage with contemporary soundscapes, and released two EPs. Within days of launching their label Musiques de Sphères, the duo's studio was burglarized and a hard drive with six years of painstakingly curated material had vanished. After tracking down demos they shared with friends before their final stages of completion, Clément and Bertrand reconstructed an album of 12 tracks.

Unfinished though they might be, each song is a marvelous thing to behold. Their stunning 2016 single "Eclipse," with its cinematic video, might have been one of the most immediate songs on the record, but it's the pulsing "Chalawan," with its guttural howls, fluttering flute-like passages, and driving, hypnotic beats that truly mesmerizes.

6. Purple Disco Machine - “Body Funk” & “Devil In Me” (TIE)

Whenever a bevy of guest artists appears on a debut record, it's often best to approach the project with caution. 85% of the time, the collaborative partners either overshadow the proceedings or detract from the vision of the musician whose name is emblazoned across the top of the LP. There are, however, pleasant exceptions to the rule and Tino Piontek's Soulmatic is one of the year's most delightfully cohesive offerings. The Dresden-born Deep Funk innovator, aka Purple Disco Machine, has risen to international status since 2009, releasing one spectacular track and remix after another. It should go without saying that this long-awaited collection, featuring everyone from Kool Keith to Faithless and Boris D'lugosch, is ripe with memorable highlights.

The saucy, soaring "Mistress" shines a spotlight on the stellar pipes of "UK soul hurricane" Hannah Williams. While it might be a crowning moment within the set, its the strutting discofied "Body Funk", and the album's first single, "Devil In Me", that linger long after the record has stopped spinning. The former track with its camptastic fusion of '80s Sylvester gone 1940s military march, and the latter anthem, a soulful stunner that samples the 1968 Stax hit "Private Number", and features the vocal talents of Duane Harden and Joe Killington, feels like an unearthed classic. Without a doubt, the German DJ's debut is one of the best dance records of the year.

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