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2nd Civilization – Let’s Play | Review by Vox Empirea

Belgian from Aalst, 2ND Civilization was founded in 1986 initially purely as amateur purpose by the duo Koen D / Johan VS, both impassioned of drum-machines, synthesizers and of the rational electronic sounds created by Deutsch-Amerikanische Freundschaft, Trisomie 21 and Kraftwerk, of the synthpop invented by the early Depeche Mode and of the emerging technologism listenable in the first Front 242’s Electronic Body Music. Subsequently, in 1991, Patrick D joined the band completing the same line-up of the present days with the following order: Koen (Vidi), synths / mastering, Patrick D, synths / guitars / vox and Koen D, synths, vox / drums – whose name of this latter appeared in 2002 into the compilation “Difficult Music For Difficult People II” dating with his personal project called Forgotten Heroes – . It’s also reported the presence of the original 2nd Civilization in the 1989’s rare EBM / electro / industrial tape compilation entitled “BEF I”, in which tracklist there was at the same time the name of their experimental side-project known as Trans-Vorm. The albums published by the project initially mentions “Eros And Civilization”, a twelve tracks demo tape self-produced in 1989, containing mostly electronic / EBM covers of songs belonging to the mentioned inspirer bands, followed in 1990 by “Report”, a second demo-tape of ten songs in style EBM / electro independently produced; the 2nd Civilization finally reached in 2012, after a long and constructive period devoted to gigs and technical improvements, to their official debut, “Report From The Dark”, an album of twelve songs published by EK Product, whose contents are the electronically modernized remakes of the songs included into the previous “Report”.

The new, awaited full-length “Let’s Play”, released in digipak format in 2014 by the Space Race Records – a division of the same EK Product – proudly offers an irresistible multitude of EBM / synthpop / electro sounds formulated with expertise, creativity and with the ambitious goal of increasing the number of fans. The twelve acts included in the tracklist deflagrate from the pulsing vitality of “Walk It Off”, in which the union between EBM and electro elements originates an highly danceable and vaguely Arabic composition, supported by precise sections of filtered voices and dynamized with coldness by the midtempo tracks of drum-sequencing. “The Crash” is an enthralling EBM / electro composed by uptempo beats connected to tense and occasionally melodious vocals, together with the essential harmony of synths, futuristic effects and dry conjunctures of programming, while the beautiful “Fuck Up My Mind” immediately catches you by its vocal accents and its lyrics in which you perceive moments of icy irony and dissatisfaction, all this animated by the whippy uptempo propulsion of drumming symmetrically flanked by the sequencer lines and, further, by wrapping flows of keys, in a well-constructed, significant song to dance and listen with great pleasure. “John Carpenter” is instead the tribute given by 2ND Civilization to the homonymous and famous film director, an ‘electro soundtrack minded song’ almost entirely instrumentally played, perfectly adapted to the typical cinematic horror current of this artist and therefore characterized by obsessive dark atmospheres drenched in thrilling, announced with disquieting piano melodism on which hypnotic notes are gradually stratified tenebrous dissonances, midtempo drum-programming, gothic synth orchestrations, burning electric guitar riffs, robotic vocals and a sinister background of screams, reverbs, pads and austere organ symphonies. The sound concept of the next “Timehunter” incorporates danceable electro / synthpop modulations developed on midtempo drum-machine beats, fluorescent programmed pulses, aseptic propagation of synths, loops and an authoritarian chant simultaneously scanned by the two vocalists, as well as the mainly technopopish physiognomy of “Games” radiates a mathematical-automatic midtempo drum-programming further enlivened by bright keyboard chords and by the immediacy of refrain. In the hyper-technological “Fight” they predominate high-speed electro sounds to dance frantically, obeying to the uptempo rhythm of drumming, to the fast sequenced punctuations, to the peremptory of vocals and to the extended coverages of synths, while the following “Brussels” is an electropop which suggestively swaying between downtempo replications and a sadly obscure chant that the two vocalists emit on the intensity of keys. The synth basements of the next “Alien Love” coding beautiful and prolonged harmonies combining them to the metallic dryness of midtempo drum-sequencing, creating in this way an electro / technopop strongly attractive and of great value. “The Virus” is an electro-track composed by thick and fast programmed beats to which are added alienating emissions of keyboards, filtrated segments of voice, a chant dictated with inert tones and futuristic effects, while the EBM / electro geometries of “Bug Spray” are fractionated by uptempo drum-programming and strophes schematically uttered by vocalist, all supported by flashing executions of synths that energize the entire song. “Heartbeat” is the last chapter of the release, a glacial electropop that overall recalls some Kraftwerk-oriented reminiscences, especially in the mechanical voice predisposition, in the harmonious cerebrality of keyboards and in the global arrangements, supported by a minimal drum-programming and, sporadically, by an harsh guitar. Band in possession of winning projectuality, of interesting avant-garde intuitions well as of an almost thirty years music experience lived in the electronic universe, 2nd Civilization finalize a completely successful album that highlights the unconditional devotion of the three performers to technological sounds, aspect revealed through an intelligent use of machines and a concrete, constant desire of innovation.

The Belgian project has fully intercepted the sensitivity of the public, framing their specific listening needs and offering them a musicality that incorporates old-school retrospectives and modernism, all in a full-length which includes an exciting consecution of songs. This work is therefore the authoritative result of progressive studio experimentations evolved with discipline and an open minds towards sonic research: if you really want authentic ‘techno body movement’, by “Let’s Play” you will be fulfilled in an unlimited extent.

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