I’ll start this review off by saying that I’ve always found Retrogramme to be capable and skilled, but I could never really get into their works completely. Potential was damn well lit throughout their discography thus far. They have been capable of attaining a natural fanbase and respectable favor among critics and musicians alike. But, for me, I just always found something to be lacking in their works; something missing. I can’t really say what it was. However, that opinion is changing today.
With the release of their latest double CD album, Feed, the Washington DC based electronic band has both embraced and put to great use a variety of different genres, specializing in Synthpop, EBM, IDM, and Darkwave. A multi-mashup of several styles and influences packs in a twelve song long tracklist that both engages and awes with sheer beauty. Attached to it is a secondary CD which contains twelve different remixes from various acts across the scene (I’ll be touching upon that later).
The intro and title track starts us off with a simply developed song with some military style drums and a bit of electronics in the mix. Nothing to really get too impressed over, but then we’re hit with “She Gives Me Nightmares”. The older sounding piano work juxtaposes itself right next to the very dance-worthy beat. And, I’m not kidding when I say that a thorough mix of genres blend all too well. Synthpop is the main focus, I’d say, with every other sound coming from another area in the scene. It’s like one great big melting pot of sounds.
“Thorns” adds in some funky guitar work and spunks up the music. Also, I forgot to mention to vocal work. Both Jenna’s and Dmitry’s vocal work are on spot and superb. Sometimes clean, other times a little touched with digital effects, there is not a time when I was disappointed with their work.
But, not all is soft with this band. “Confidant” comes off a little harder and darker, but keeps the general flair in line. The synth work that approached with “Saved” was absolutely gorgeous, while the choral effects and more club friendly sounds that emerged from the sounds of “Psychosis” continued to subdue me in a Retrogramme trance.
I could imagine myself driving through a neon lit city of the future as “It’s Time” played along, so if I ever visit Tokyo, you can bet your ass that this will be on my Tokyo Tour playlist. The next song “Angel” definitely had a thing going on with retro sounds, and “Furthest Planet” showed off a bit more of a simple song. EBM bassline, a few electronic tid bits here and there, and not such heavy synth work gave this song that basic, but good, touch.
Sounding like it’s the title of an old school horror film that you’d see at a good ol’American grindhouse, “Flesh Drive 2” bared no resemblance to such ominous subject matter. Just more beautiful IDM and Synthpop work mixed together with Jenna working her magic.
“Wars And Fear” gives off more of a rock feel to it, using drums and guitar work throughout the majority of it, but it still shows love to electronic elements. The vocals were actually kind of off and odd in this song, but I think it was meant to be that way. Consider it artistic touch, I suppose. The last track on the first CD, “Unsettled” doesn’t disappoint one bit, but rather carries you off with a futuristic love song that glides away like a discarded leaf on an bright Autumn day.
And then we come to the remix section. Now, as always, when it comes to these remix sections, everyone is going to pick and choose which remixes they do and don’t like. Let me discuss two of the remixes that I really, really enjoyed.
First up is the great TourdeForce remix of Unsettled. Hitting in with some Italo Disco (after all, it is titled the Goddamn Italo Disco Mix), this song just gets even more charming with TourdeForce’s touch. Along with that one comes the Echoknocks Remix of She Gives Me Nightmares. Give it some house flavoring for a very club flavored rendition, and this track just absolutely stole my ears for its entire duration. Fantastic and lovely, you need to listen to both of these tracks.
But, yes, there is hardly a flaw to find in this album and I can only really say positive things about it. I may have once thought that Retrogramme was a decent band that needed work, but now I’m coming off more or less saying, “Jesus fucking Christ on a Holy stick, this just blew me away.” Which, in all honesty, I did find myself muttering out loud while going through this album.
Many respects to Retrogramme for crafting such a gorgeous and well put together album that makes me curse the good Lord’s name.