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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

d'Voxx 1984 (2022)

A daring piece of work where imagination is primordial to follow the steps of George Orwell's novel

1 Airstrip One 4:53

2 Doublethink (A study in Newspeak) 4:02

3 Julia 6:12

4 The Place where there is no Darkness 5:40

5 Ministry of Love (Miniluv) 6:36

6 Telescreens 4:24

7 Ministry of Truth (Minitrue) 5:10

8 The re-education of Winston 4:08


(CD/DDL 41:25) (V.F.)

(Avant-gardism EM, IDM, Electronica)

d'Voxx caught many ears of enchantment with the amazing Telegraph (DiN58) in 2019. That first musical work by Nino Auricchio and Paul Borg was built on an impressive mesh of rhythmic threads that was the prerogative of rhythms as complex as the mass of sounds coming out of the modular synths. To survive such an album and such a level of creative complexity requires a work that is equal to but also disproportionate than the talent of its 2 musicians on drawing out from the immense possibilities of their instruments. And why not 1984? One doesn't tackle such a grandiose literary work without having the audacity to create a dystopian universe at the height of this famous novel by George Owell. David Bowie tackled this cult novel in 1975 with the unforgettable Diamond Dogs. He never got permission to call this album 1984. But the essence of the book was there. Unlike Bowie, d'Voxx obtained permission from the English writer's heirs to use the name of the novel as well as certain passages, recited either at the opening of the tracks or right in the middle of the music, which guide the listener a little better through this labyrinth of rhythms as convoluted as ever. The result is quite amazing! From Airstrip One to The re-education of Winston, the music takes us back to the ambiences of this book with fiery rhythms built in an amalgam of disjointed threads that ingeniously reconnect under an explosion of sounds knitted in atmospheric layers and/or ambient melodies where hope, betrayal and anguish are as palpable as the fear that struck poor Winston at the Ministry of Truth.

Samplings of a neighborhood life in turmoil, the police of thought's intrusion, open Airstrip One. Early on, a synth line stretches out a melodious, spleen-tinged air. Its magnetizing loops roll over plaintive waves to evaporate when a pulsating bass line emerges just before the 90th second. The rhythm is sharp, dark, resonant, and undulating. Its upward movement is immediately joined by a shadow that projects percussive elements, while the synth injects a melody line that sings with an abrasive texture and helps propel the rhythm into a more driving dimension. Already, our ears are gripped by the rich tonal texture of d'Voxx. And that's just the beginning of the adventure! A voice narrating a passage from the book is at the origin of Doublethink (A study in Newspeak). This 40-second opening is annihilated by a pulsating rhythm whose hard double strokes cast a shadow of strong vibrations in the ears. Again, the percussive effects add to the aesthetic of the album's percussion work with metallic clanking and typing effects swirling like a word's machine gun. The percussions hammer out an atmospheric structure unstitched by jerks, it sounds like an atmospheric breakdance, with the precision of a metronome. The underlying environment is composed of voices and one in particular that reminds us of the mechanical style of Max Headroom. Our ears overflowing like a sonic cornucopia stick to Julia's atmospheric introduction which has a tinny lyrical bent. A cinematic 70-second opening before the sequencer injects an undulating rhythm line over a racing pulsing bass-line. The sequencer's tone metamorphoses into a moiré rhythm structure. And those who remember Eddie Jobson's beautiful Theme of Secrets album will be delighted by this movement, of which the deafening blasts coming from a bass-drum are restructuring into a modern-tone techno. Another line of more limpid sequences are grafted, testifying of this plurality of lines and structures of rhythms which clash in each of the tracks of 1984. It is at this moment that the synth weaves the webs of a vampiric melody. An atmospheric passage serves as an interlude for other texts of the book before the rhythm is reborn in an overexcited structure of which one cannot ignore the influences of Jean-Michel Jarre on this frenzied finale of Julia.

Another short introductory text from the book and The Place where there is no Darkness takes off with a cloud of oscillations whose sequence rolls in ascending loops. A spectral wave and another buzzing one cover this movement where a circular rhythm line with brighter chords invites itself around the 70th second. Another rhythmic element, toom-toom, structures a faster pulsating rhythm as the cadenced oscillations roll in. The rhythm is weaved together from several webs that converge symbiotically, adding this hoop structure that rides from ear to ear, while the oscillation structure of the opening has become the harmonious soul of the track. Heavy technoïd pulses (boom-boom) pound the main rhythmic phase of Ministry of Love (Miniluv). There are several elements that make up this heavy and lively pulsating rhythm where the impression of running out of breath is the result of a meticulous work and an assembly of percussive elements whose alloys resonate as much as tinkle. A purely anguishing rhythm! Telescreens proposes a structure without precise rhythmic direction. The track bubbles with sound effects, some of which have a rhythmic purpose with a horde of bass pulses and beats that clash in a dense web of atmospheric tones. The echo of some percussions and those rubbery bouncing effects are among the elements, we also note telephone tinkling, which arouse auditory curiosity while being complementary to the orientation of the track. Another seductive element is this form of electronic language that vaguely recalls the Kraftwerk universe in Computer World. Ministry of Truth (Minitrue) begins with a series of muted beats and a cadenced chords' line that undulates in wide harmonic circles. Fragmented by several elements that come together in a surprising symbiosis, the rhythm is thus more fluid and melodic here than elsewhere in 1984. The track has an essence of synthpop, like OMD or Frankie Goes to Hollywood but in a more futuristic texture. The re-education of Winston is the only truly atmospheric track with floating synth layers carrying white noises over a structure lightly enlivened by scattered strokes of a pulsing bass-line. The synth waves develop an increasingly dramatic presence, evoking that secret sorrow of Winston's.

A daring piece of work where imagination is primordial to follow the steps of George Orwell's novel, the music of 1984 only possesses of the words this sense of urgency to live that hides behind a barrage of complex rhythms. d'Voxx dares the improbable by creating a multitude of threads of an electronic symphony for avant-garde rhythms that hits the soul of the book head-on. Its latent anguish... Hats off to Mr. Auricchio and Mr. Borg! Available at DiN from November 18th

Sylvain Lupari (November 4th, 2022) *****

Available at DiN Bandcamp

(NB: Words in blue are links you can click on)

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