MiDi-BiTCH Machina (2023)
Updated: Aug 27
“Machina is conceived in a pessimistic vision of a society moving towards its decay”
1 In Medias Res 4:31
2 Ipso Facto 6:46
3 Verum Factum 4:31
4 Damage Beyond Repair 6:24
5 Darkroom 6:53
6 Multidimensional Absence of Light 6:41
7 Carentia 3:29
8 Cave Parable 9:18
9 Progress is a Bitch 6:28
10 Matroshka 5:45
11 Abyss 5:24
12 Darkless // Dust & Ashes 4:56
(DDL 71:11) (V.F.)
(E-Rock Dark Synth Music)
I've become a huge fan of MiDi-BiTCH! How could I not? Fredy Engel has produced a series of seductive albums in which the Berlin School model crosses the boundaries of dance music in a musical envelope that is often post-apocalyptic, if not industrial, sometimes avant-garde, but always with the ultimate aim of seducing our ears with a melodic vision that surprises as much as seems out of context. This is exactly what MACHINA is all about. MACHINA for machine, man, artificial, intelligence, motorik, kosmos, ritual, pray, obey and trans-humiliation. These are some of the principles, as described by MiDi BiTCH, that solidify the dark, pulsating, resonant rhythms of an electronic music (EM) album that flirts with a very dark vision. A vision that leverages Engel's themes in a cinematic envelope where fear and dystopia bond in complicity.
A pulsating, a motorik rhythm, like Kraftwerk without the robotic membrane, starts In Media Res, which unfurls its heavy mass of driving EM in a fluid circular motion. Originally, giant bee buzzes adorned the rhythmic gravity of its introduction. Soon enough, these are replaced by luminous hoops whose blurred shape weaves a vague, a distant melodic approach akin to a tune hummed by the quavering timbre of an electronic specter. As on most MACHINA's tracks, the rhythm is based on a multiline sequencer from which a more melodious line emerges. I like its zigzag growth, which crosses the worlds of Tangerine Dream, I'd write more Edgar Froese, and the famous Düsseldorf quartet. The electronic percussions are rather discreet, as are the sound effects, with a MiDi BiTCH concentrating on a rhythm as driving as melodious. Slow and heavy, Ipso Facto is the first track to feature these black and resonant sequences for a circular and at times zigzagging rhythm in an oblong jerky and slightly stroboscopic form. Ever heard of a rhythmic earworm? This is the structure of Ipso Facto, whose fine organic texture recalls Robert Schroeder's world of interstellar duck clucking. The synth throws layers that fade into smoke-filled verses. It throws too some good arrangements and spectral effects, murmurs can be heard too, on this rhythmic structure that sometimes sounds as if rooted by a Moog. Verum Factum follows with a much more uplifting structure. One of the livelier on the album. It reminds me of P'Cock's rhythmic run in House in the Storm. The sequencer, dark and resonant, hammers out a pulsating linear rhythm, with rattling effects and adjacent lines which add a distinct boost to the velocity of this hellish beat. It's pure, hard rhythm that leaves a tiny part to the synth and its wails, which hover like fallen angels over the track's periodic zigzagging ascents and faster rhythmic spikes. Less fast-paced but highly effective, Damage Beyond Repair is a real rhythm machine that bewitches the senses. Black and resonant, the bass sequences have a distantly organic texture, sounding like cadenced croaks, and are supported by percussion, some of whose strokes, added here and there, over-dimension a rhythmic depth that fills our ears. But that's not all! Behind this impressive rhythmic pattern lies a distant, melodious ode that is hummed, whispered and whistled by a synth that also weaves in good arrangements creating little shivers of abandon. An excellent track that becomes haunting! Darkroom leads us into a conventional electronic dance anthem. The rhythm resonates and its veil of reverberation conceals a Luciferian voice. Sound hoops multiply and clash, adding an industrial bluish sheen to this sea of red-black rhythm. The burgundy of the underworld! We're in the lair of gothic EDM. Chthonian Techno, as the music explores a more moderate, but still dark, passage before returning to its base of eardrum-busting pulsating rhythm. It must be hellish on a dancefloor!
If you like organic percussive elements, they surround the disorganized rhythm of Multidimensional Absence of Light. The structure is one of constant uncertainty, rhythm and non-rhythm, with a duel of percussive machine-gun fires cutting through the flow of sequences in DJ's dance-music mode. The rubbery texture that envelops this cadenced bickering is simply delicious for eardrums hungry for sound effects. Here, too, voices are raised, like a mass or a highly theatrical macabre ritual, from this hesitant structure that is violently interrupted by contracted spasms. These unexpected rhythmic jolts raise a vision of post-apocalyptic rock in a first part that serves as fuel for a slightly more fluid second part. We then enter MACHINA's more atmospheric phase with the next titles. Carentia follows, following the same model of Multidimensional Absence of Light in terms of theatrical ambience, in a less dominant but equally hesitant rhythmic context. Let's just say that the music has cinematic depth. MACHINA's longest track, Cave Parable exploits its 9 minutes in a long futuristic atmospheric phase that respects the meaning (man-machine-motorik-ritual-obedience-transhumiliation) of this new MiDi BiTCH download album. There's noise, percussive elements, sequences that hop like a snake-lego, and plenty of atmospheres that flirt between the two worlds of this track. Progress is a Bitch is another atmospheric track adorned with mechanized rain burying the dystopian panorama of a former industrial city. Percussive elements, such as pulsating bass blows, percussions and sequence lines that bend their back, also decorate these steatite-textured ambiences. Howling, whistling winds are at the origin of Matroshka. Synth layers create a murky atmosphere from which voices rise and percussive blows emerge without rhythmic direction. The sequencer makes undulating a line of bass sequences in this setting, which fills with tap-dancing percussive elements. The arrangements, which have a touch of Vangelis in Blade Runner, bring a good level of eerie intensity to a score that inspires a dark, futuristic cinematic vision. The opening of Abyss is also woven into this vision. Its rhythm bursts forth around its 20th second with a slow circular movement of the sequencer. The timbre is black and resonant, in symbiosis with the synth layers that have an air of doom. An essence of dark trumpets is no stranger to this sensation. The arrangements also weave a level of intensity that is quite close to that in Matroshka. The music and moods reflect the dimensions of the track quite well. The rhythm is heavy, slow and driving, like a dance of zombies high on Fentanyl. It's in Arc and/or Redshift mode. And it's more tangible here than elsewhere in MACHINA, which feeds off it quite well in terms of the resonance of the sequences. Voice samples add a hint of ritual music to this slow, spiral-like rhythmic ritornello. The synths divide the depth of Abyss quite nicely, with an essence of apocalyptic trumpet and sibylline orchestral harmonies as melodic as Damage Beyond Repair. Darkless // Dust & Ashes brings MACHINA's fascinating odyssey to a close with a rhythmic structure that lightly hops around a dreary backdrop. Although morose, the mood is less somber, certainly due to the chirping of birds that shine in a musical universe where the synth is hovering over moaning strings and melodies, and where voices seem to recite prayers.
In the end, MACHINA may seem less seductive than the excellent Sequenz, which had no faults whatsoever. But let's compare apples with apples! MiDi-BiTCH's latest album is conceived within a pessimistic vision of a society moving towards its decay. In this respect, everything matches the vision of its composer, who offers another envelope of EM Industrial Gothic-style which is overwhelmed by the power and heaviness of its rhythms and the theatrical density of its arrangements.
Sylvain Lupari (August 26th, 2023) ****¼*
Available at MiDi-BiTCH Bandcamp
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