The Algorithm - OCTOPUS4 review
|Release date:||June 2014|
07. damage points
10. un dernier combat
11. recovery fail!
The Algorithm, as its name suggests, is an electronic one-man project held by Rémi Gallego. His 2012 debut, Polymorphic Code, was as good a surprise as opening a box of Danish cookies and finding actual cookies in it - and the good chocolaty kind, not the ones with the dried-up, tooth-breaking raisins. Its unique recipe of djent and electro left us all longing for this new release, OCTOPUS4, which I am supposed to tell you about.
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There I just did. I told you in binary code that this is not a metal album. Polymorphic Code grew up and transformed into an octopus that extends its tentacles to poke at many other genres than just metal and dubstep.
OCTOPUS4 starts out easy with "autoRun", that gently evolves to incorporate a post-rock-like guitar line as well as his signature fast spasmodic keyboards. At that point the album enters a phase that will most likely bring a smile to your face, as it uses elements of chiptune that could remind you of your arcade gaming days. Metal-like riffs and drums are still here and there, but merely to add tension and punctuate the tracks that are a lot more cheerful than you'd expect. But two long tracks of almost nothing but those variations around 8-bit music can be tiring.
Thankfully the album changes directions with "will_smith" and "ピタゴラスPYTHAGORAS", that re-introduce us to the mathematical side of The Algorithm. This shift in gears is confirmed with very welcome long - and thick enough - guitar samples. This second third of the album is based mostly on a dubstep structure, with its usual build-ups and bass-drops, but with subtlety and intelligence. Words that come rarely in the same sentence as "dubstep".
"synthetiz3r", which can easily be described as one of the heaviest tentacles this sea-monster has to deploy, features one of the most surprising blends of musical styles I ever heard in the short span of 60 seconds. Imagine this: Optimus Prime and Starscream on a date, Optimus gets Stary to follow him home, puts some 90's eurodance in the background to set the mood for foreplay, followed by a long growl that you could only interpret as Starscream complaining about the lack of lube. That crazy session of love-making ends on a faraway soaring guitar solo, which can help you vividly imagine how salty Starscream's tears must taste.
The album goes on and features a more breakcore/drum'n'bass-based track by the name of "damage points". We are then past the first half, and the light tunes like "discovery" are far away.
We get a little rest with a spacey ambient short interlude that operates as an easy transition between the second and last third of the record. Slower but also darker tracks are to be expected as we approach the end. The ones past "void" include more space-related soundscapes that introduce a little fantasy of Remi's. He indeed felt free to add a little rapped verse to the mix in "un dernier combat", dealing with his troubles with psycho-pharmacology. This is proof that The Algorithm wants to experiment in a more serious way and not just have fun. Although, between froggies, I'd advise him not to start a French rap project any time soon. Surprisingly, the album ends on an explosive piece that mixes insane blastbeats as well as moments heavily influenced by traditional old-school EBM and industrial. The whole thing fades out into an unexpected long and smooth lounge jazz outro that feels as useless as a band-aid on an open fracture.
As a conclusion, I would say the whole experience, because of how dense it is, could have been shortened, even coming from a techno lover as myself. OCTOPUS4's flaws could all be the consequences of wanting to do too much, which makes me hope the next opus will be a little less zealous. OCTOPUS4 is an album for open-minded listeners that do not mind having a lot of wubwubwub in their shredshredshred. The song structures and the genre-hopping don't make this an easy listen, especially for the unfamiliar with electronic music. But it is adult enough to use all those different little facets of Gallego's musical culture to make a record worthy of being listened to at least once.
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