Thursday, 1 March 2012

Review: Cybernetika - Colossus

Cybernetika Colossus
German psy-trance producer Cybernetika caused a bit of a stir in the psy community back in 2009 when he brought out the remarkable Atropos album on web label Ektoplazm. Ektoplazm are dedicated to releasing all their music for free, which meant over 23,000 people downloaded Atropos - not a bad feat for an underground psy trance producer. What made Atropos so popular was an unlikely but brilliant fusion of twisted psy-trance and dark neurofunk to create probably the finest yet example of "psy-step": psychedelic drum 'n bass. After a brief return to (mostly) conventional psy material with 2010's The Scythe Of Orion, Cybernetika returned to the psy-step sound with Colossus, an album that's possibly even better than Atropos.

Like all of Cybernetika's albums, Colossus is themed around a lofty sci-fi concept narrative - this time around mankind's struggle to battle the collapse of the universe itself through the use of ancient alien technology. To be fair, little of that high space opera material is evident through the almost-entirely instrumental body of the album, but as with Atropos there's a distinctive sense of narrative - long tracks that unfold over many minutes. The crucial difference is that while Atropos was quite a paranoid album, infused with references to dope smoking and samples of the malevolent renegade AI SHODAN from the classic early '90s videogame System Shock, Colossus is a slightly airier and spacier outing. This is being relative, of course - we're still talking about an album themed around the collapse of physical reality. Opening track Gagarin is (predictably) a tribute to the first man in space, but its menacing growl is far from a utopian conception of the future possibilities of space travel. The album highlight is without doubt the magnificent Devoid Of Gravity, a 12 minute interstellar epic with an absolutely enormous intro and a euphoric first half that plunges into darkness and distorted alien chatter for the second half. The only problem is that such a powerful track arrives so early in the album that the remaining hour or so of music never quite ascends to such heights again, and this track might have been better off shoved later in the running order. That might not have fit Cybernetika's implied narrative superstructure, but it would have been for a better listening experience.

Now, this album is simply going to be too much for most people. Psy-trance is a heavy genre, neurofunk is an even heavier one and Cybernetika pulls no punches with his influence from either genre. This is an extremely dark and hard album from start to finish, it's absolutely relentless in its intensity. This is a deep space nightmare, and while I would usually mock my imaginary readers for not having the balls to stand up to sustained sonic assaults, this one is a tough listen. If you catch it in exactly the right mood, however (IE: when you're fucking furious) and there really is nothing quite like it. This is intense in the manner of a truly nasty horror film, and that intensity can be mind-blowing when channelled correctly. This is not an album for all occasions, but that shouldn't dilute its excellence. And Devoid Of Gravity is a strong contender for track of the year, an absolute masterpiece of twisted technological insanity.

Genre: Psychedelic neurofunk (Fuck yeah! What a genre name!)
Stupid Arbitrary Rating: 9/10

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