• Sylvain Lupari

Sonic Research Society: Clean Air Factory (2022)

Updated: Sep 20

A big album of alternative e-rock flirting with the dark side of gothic and industrial music

1 The Train in Vain 3:38

2 Happy Brain Reset 4:21

3 Around a Square 3:33

4 Fear & Anger Machine 3:57

5 Slow Groove in Dminor 3:38

6 A Split in the Matrix 5:17

7 Polluted by Machines 3:20

8 A Fever with no Cure 9:38

9 Clean Air Factory 4:02

SynGate CD-(r) SRS02

(DDL/CD(r)) (V.F.) (Electro Beat, IDM, Industrial EM)

We have to admit, Drifting Forward was a big surprise last year. Well, Godfried Stockman and Christian Fiesel do it again with an even more powerful album. CLEAN AIR FACTORY is a big album of alternative electronic rock that flirts with the dark side of gothic and industrial music. The two musicians give themselves a lot of pleasure with a blooming of convoluted sounds that provide a surreal envelope of abrasive music that envelops the punk, trip-hop and krautrock genres in a universe where the psychedelic rubs shoulders with the dark side of an ambience that will make any ear addictive. An excellent and ambitious realization of the German label SynGate!

The Train in Vain spreads from the start all the sound richness that Sonic Research Society intends to put in this CLEAN AIR FACTORY. Very short track, it exploits its 3:38 minutes with an opening built on two textures; one that develops an undulating and repetitive harmonic loop, the other one puts in a suite of keyboard riffs falling curtly in a form of staccato. Both elements are enveloped in an orchestral haze and pecked by clattering sounds before being bludgeoned by robust percussions that resonate like a heavy pulsing bass-line. As soon as these elements are in place, the rhythm begins to meander in a jerky circular motion to espouse a strobe-like movement that hops around a rich musical zone. The Teutonic rhythm is a cross between Kraftwerk and krautrock. Sonic Research Society has not quite completed its musical ornamentation and adds circular chirp lines, melting chords and other elements that come and go to enrich a creatively stitched structure. That's a lot of sounds and a gradation of a rhythm tie up to an evolving sound texture for such a short track. And so it is for the 8 other tracks that occupy the almost 42 minutes of a simply brilliant album. Happy Brain Reset follows with a much a structure fired up by percussions that have some nervousness fickle in the hits and a resonant echo effect that comes out of the rhythm. The bass and bass-drum are heavy and resonant while the synth justifies its presence with nice harmonious solos and psychedelic loops that seem to whisper a secret dialogue to us. It reminds me of trip-hop revamped in a gothic-industrial texture. Around a Square is more atmospheric in a gloomy dungeon and barbaric crime music kind of way. The bass layer crawls like a devious beast while the two artists multiply the synth effects and those sound effects that over-dimension this dark psybient decor. With its heavy, slow pace that is built on convincing percussions and acidic keyboard riffs, Fear & Anger Machine is pure industrial neo-punk. The music is quite catchy with a mechanical heaviness that hosts a cybernetic voice speaking through a vocoder. From an opening that is as nebulous as it is vaporous, Slow Groove in Dminor eventually develops into a good alternative hip-hop. The bumpy rhythm is surrounded by an envelope of chthonian voices while the synth develops a nice spectral melody that sounds like a violin calling to the beyond.

First track lasting over 5 minutes, A Split in the Matrix follows with a flight of arpeggios that undulates in a bewitching ascending movement. One can hear a trail of dark flakes following the corridor imposed by synth layers whose apocalyptic trumpet timbre is more nasal than sizzling. The two elements are in contrast with the fluid flow of the snowflakes and these layers that flow in slow motion. This union of the two elements enters an atmospheric phase at the 2 minute mark. A Split in the Matrix then takes the shape of a procession that hops around in the mists and floating harmonies of synths more sibylline than lyrical. A cello adds a rather macabre touch afterwards, guiding the ambiences towards a jerky rhythm structure that pulses in another gothic setting. Polluted by Machines has us tapping our toes in electronic alternative rock that is as creative as it is driving with an energy for industrial dance music (IDM) in a setting as rich and original as The Train in Vain. There are many elements and moods in this album that could be found in a scary movie soundtrack. And at over 9 minutes, A Fever with no Cure brings them all together. This gloomy track starts with a heavy and oblong bass sheet that regurgitates its gurgles on a bed of resonant fog. A sequenced bass line pulses through it. Its upward movement weaves an elastic rhythm that undulates under synth tunes that are stingy with lyrical melodies. Hoof effects that resonate on concrete add a percussive element that charms the ear in this gloomy music festival that strangely recalls some of Fever Ray's ambiences in his Fever album. Clearer arpeggios begin to tinkle, almost as if they were delicately struck on a xylophone. The rhythm becomes haunting with its rubbery quality giving it a continuous momentum. The synths crunch their ghostly waves in this environment where the weapons of fright are hiding in the least unexpected corners. A very good track that exploits to the maximum its macabre ambiences in a context of black and abrasive psybient. The title-track ends this amazing album with a rhythm that pulses under thick layers of abrasive synths, a bit like a guitar spitting long agonizing riffs. The percussions are dancing over the buzzing bass pulses, giving an unfinished rhythmic texture to one of the most blistering industrial rock. An energetic and abrasive track that scratches the ears without taking away the desire to continue listening to this infernal rhythm. The desire too to replay an album whose excessiveness is as surprising as the artistic direction of Sonic Research Society. Hats off to Godfried Stockman and Christian Fiesel for this refreshing and unexpected album!

Sylvain Lupari (September 15th, 2022) ****½*

SynthSequences.com

Available at SynGate Bandcamp


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