CD, Machinist Music, 2009
The name “Mad Therapist” is quite a visual one, conjuring images of lightning illuminating tower-top laboratories replete with fluids and coils and enough finely blown glassware to stock a medium-sized home décor depot. Then, presiding over this, we see… Not a scientist, as the image would usually be completed, but a therapist, peering over his spectacles and asking you telling questions about your childhood, presumably before getting around to the inevitable plan of world domination. Perhaps the term “Mad Therapist” loses something in its translation from Russian, because the image carries with it the unspoken assumption that any music will be deep, dark stuff, punctuated by organic bubbling textures and stabs of Jacob’s Ladder static discharge. On “Alien Element”, however, this is not at all what we encounter.
Instead, we are greeted by melodic, clean electronica that is infused with calming overtones. It is an ambitious, intricate album that places the emphasis firmly on composition rather than just assailing the listener with a barrage of beats. The result? Pleasantly atmospheric, cleverly constructed background music that fades in and out of your consciousness without leaving a mark. So, while it’s playing, you find yourself struck with how gentle and easy the music is to listen to, and then, an hour later, you end up wondering what it was you actually just listened to. Despite all its intelligence, and the textbook structure of its various elements, “Alien Element” fails (unfortunately) to leave a lasting impression. This makes it practically impossible to isolate any one track as a highlight of the album, so I will instead resort to comparison: if you have a penchant for trance without the repetitive beats and higher BPMs, and like a little more substance in your music, this is the way to go.
A little less thought and a little more feeling will make Mad Therapist something to be reckoned with. The perspiration has obviously been put in, but the inspiration still leaves a little something to be desired.
— David Merwe