Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

80th Disorder-Transform EP

January 1, 2007

80thdisorderBand Name: 80th Disorder

Album Name: Transform EP

Best Element: The title track’s unbelievable catchiness.

Genre: Synth-Wave / New-Wave

Website: http://www.myspace.com/80thdisorder, http://www.80thdisorder.com

Label Name: Melotrik

Band Email: vesku@melotrik.com

Born of the same lineage that produced Ultravox, Joy Division, and Depeche Mode, Finland’s 80th Disorder offers a new voice to new-wave’s spin-off synth-wave movement. The four-song E.P. Transform witnesses its namesake: change. At four tracks, one would expect a tightly unified sound, but 80th Disorder opens a window on the variety synth-wave’s critics often beleaguer it for not displaying. This is good… this is very good. In a genre where many bands seem to be a re-casting of three or four immediately preceding it, 80th Disorder is willing to test out its own sound techniques while still relying heavily on the genre’s roots.

The Finnish quartet toys with vocal samples in “Transform” and “Sympathy One.” These are mixed low enough to create interest, but high enough not to be overwhelmed by the dueling synthesizers and guitars. They close out “Desolate Journey” with a bit-crunched implosion that subsides with the low rumble of a rocket prior to take-off, before ending it with a television-zap.

Vesa-Matti Pekkola’s voice hovers across the mix with a resonant and drawn-out tone. At times Pekkola nearly speaks his lines—a la Ian Curtis in “Love Will Tear Us Apart”—though he is at his best when he carries across a phrase (witness: the closing lines of “Death in Venice”). At times the reverb used on the recording detracts from his tones, but overall it’s not a serious issue.

The album’s title track—“Transform”—fades in from a cymbal and ambient synthesizer to a calling guitar laced over a simple high-hat and kick-drum beat, dropping to the trademark rich-toned bass-tones that unite this album. “Transform” is, by far, 80th Disorder’s most catchy tune on the disc. I can imagine this song receiving some play time in the clubs that feature Brit-pop and 80’s revival music.

Let me pause for a second and speak a word on the bass: Marko Pyhähuhta’s bass-lines are not only fit perfectly to each song, their tone in the recording is exceedingly well engineered. The only more fitting bass-sound that comes to mind is the tone Rage Against The Machine achieved on Battle for Los Angeles and Evil Empire.

Transform closes with “Death in Venice,” which is as close to epic as any synth-wave song I’ve yet heard. A pressing yet simple piano line timed to a repetitive slow-motion waterfall of toms, undercut by a two-chord alteration on a soft, droning guitar builds throughout. The mood rises three-quarters through the song, at which point the key jumps and Pekkola puts on the album’s most powerful and lonely vocal performance. “There’s a hiding place for cowards,” he braves during the song’s death throes, “for people… people… people like me.” Epic? Yes… but quietly epic. Bleak? Yes… but reassuringly bleak.

-Tim Avery

the_kitchen_sinks@yahoo.com

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Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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