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The Synthetic Dream Foundation – Behind the Gates of Horn and Ivory

The Synthetic Dream Foundation - Behind the Gates of Horn and Ivory

CD, Mythical Records, 2008

Hybrid genres can be scary. Bands that use a whole lot of hyphens to describe their sound often assume the ever so defensive “We are too cool to be pigeonholed” stance to cover up their suck. This translates to: none of the presently defined styles of electronic music want to be associated with us, therefore we shall act like we’re too cool for school and ‘shun’ labels. Thus I am a natural skeptic of artists who claim to posses the ability to successfully unite elements of classical music with trance, IDM, aggrotech and dark ambient. Well, hallelujah… It seems like Brett Branning, a.k.a. The Synthetic Dream Foundation, just made me a believer.
In the past my only exposure to TSDF was limited to skimming past his upcoming releases’ promotional propaganda on various goth/industrial LiveJournal communities. I admit that the new age-y fairy artwork that adorned the cover of “Behind the Gates of Horn and Ivory” was the reason for my total lack of interest in this record – if I were at a record shop in search of hard-hitting club cuts with a symphonic feel, I wouldn’t even give “Behind the Gates of Horn and Ivory” a second glance thanks to that sprite. Unless you want to attract an audience in airbrushed Merlin, wolf and dragon t-shirts, perhaps it is time to rethink your packaging. I mean I’m glad it’s not a half-naked chick riding on top of a tank that’s plastered in biohazard and radiation symbols, but if you want some men to buy your CD the imp has to go!
My opinion changed upon scouting “Endzeit Bunkertracks [ACT-IV]” for suitable dance floor fare for one of my DJ gigs this past Saturday night. Upon hearing “Blood Divine”, I couldn’t wait to go home and literally tear into “Behind the Gates of Horn and Ivory”.
Survey says: win! I can’t really think of a negative thing to say about this album. I suppose my only beef lies with Brett’s choice of using Terror EBM-styled vocals on “Eine Dunkle Sphärische Widerstand”. The track is too light and airy to harmonize with angst-filled vocals and would have been tenfold more successful as an instrumental. The song structure on “Eine Schöne Ruine” accommodates angry ‘hellektro’ Cookie Monster-growls much better. Since “Among the Angels’ Debris” features operatic elements, I really hope that it forces Apoptygma Berzerk’s “Love Never Dies” into retirement. “They Who Breathe Darkness” showcases Branning’s ability to produce choppy, almost Haujobb-esque downtempo beats blended with just the right amount of pads and choirs. It’s epically delicious!
If the monotony and lack of originality in EBM and dark ambient alike is what ails you, The Synthetic Dream Foundation provides a cure. Administering a daily dose of “Behind the Gates of Horn and Ivory” can negate losing complete faith in the existence of people who mastered the fine art of creating the perfect medium between infectiously catchy electro beats and hauntingly ominous melodies.


— Bea W.

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