2CD + digital, Artoffact Records, 2009
Never mind this album having been out a little while, it was quite a while in coming, too. It is five years or so since I first came across Joseph Byer’s work, when a couple of fantastic tracks appeared on two US-based compilations. Not a lot else was then heard for some time, and when I came across him after an Ayria-gig, it appeared that the idea of further v01d material had been put on the back burner.
So, when this album finally slipped out, it was a little bit of a surprise. Not just that it existed at all, but also in the way it sounds. From the very start, there is a more mellow feel to the sound, and a much wider spread of influences, too. Take opener “Holding Pattern”. A shuffling, trip hop-esque beat, a stabbing string sample, a guitar buzzes over the chorus, and vocals treated within an inch of their lives (and the result is that they are almost indecipherable).
The lead single “Weakener”, which featured Jennifer Parkin from Ayria, appears in a different form (with Byers doing the vocals) here that while still a strong song, is not as effective without Parkin’s vocals. It starts off not appearing to be too much to write home about, as it ambles along aimlessly, but about a minute in it suddenly shifts up through the gears and becomes much more interesting and in-your-face, before stepping up again for the most-unexpected near-rap-metal chorus.
What’s more, the more restrained tracks are just as intriguing. “Gods Look Down” is the pick – blissed-out, but with a darker edge, hip-hop with the vocal flow being really impressive. And the distorted, heavier, instrumental “chorus” rocks, too. “You Won’t Feel A Thing” takes us into dark ambient realms, with barely a beat to be heard – and it’s lovely, too. Despite its darkness it seems a candidate to listen to on headphones while soaking up the spring sunshine. “Resurrected Upon Landing” makes plainly obvious one of the strongest influences on the album – Massive Attack, around the time of “Mezzanine”. Brooding beats, squalling guitars, and quasi-soulful vocals, even if they are heavily distorted again, and a feeling of crushing heaviness. It’s brilliant, too, one of the searing highlights of the album.
This album really is a striking change to what was expected, and you know what? It’s a solid album, too that flows brilliantly – nothing feels out of place, and clearly a lot of work has gone into ensuring the album is a coherent whole, rather than a selection of tracks that listeners can pick and choose from. It covers so much more than your average “industrial” album, taking a somewhat less blinkered approach by cherrypicking influences from all over the electronic and rock spectrum, and it’s cohesion despite the variety is really something to behold.
It’s also worth mentioning the companion album “Burnt Upon Re-Entry”, too – where the single version of “Weakener”, as well as another version featuring Diskonnekted appear, as well as some remixes of other album tracks and a few new ones besides.
— Adam Williams