6 November 2016

Blaqk Audio - Material

Side projects can sometimes be a release from your main body of work, there is something liberating about doing something else than what you usually create.  When I was doing music (many moons ago), I always tried to make something slightly different and whilst it might not have always worked, it was always rewarding.  Blaqk Audio is the side project of Davey Havok & Jade Puget from Punk Rock outfit A.F.I. and this is their third release; I have heard their first record 'CexCells' which was a brilliant slice of Dark Wave Pop which can still make a party erupt whenever I put it on, or make Jerm from the blog team threaten blue murder upon my soul.  I did not realise that they released a second album called 'Bright Black Heaven', something that I must investigate at some point; but that is not the point of this blog, the point of this post is to see how 'Material' sounds and what has changed since 'CexCells'.

01 - Waiting to Be Told

With a sound straight out of my past (seriously, the synth sound is so similar to the sound from the computer game 'Music 2000', it is uncanny), 'Waiting to Be Told' is a slice of Dark Wave/Synth Pop that has a love story with longing and loneliness at its core.  It is a beautiful song to start the album, one that will work in many environments and always sounds epic.

02 - First to Love

Another song that deals with love in an alternative synth way which can seem a little throwaway in some people's eyes, for me it is one of the best mediums to convey this sort of sentiment.  With more old school synth noise that will be appealing to fans of 80's music, house, darkwave and electronica. 

03 - Ceremonial (Burst into Stars)

This song sounds like it was done for the beach parties of summer, the night time discos and anytime there is a gathering of people.  It is a larger than life anthem for anyone blessed with the gift of breathing, it is uplifting and highly emotive as well.  It is my favourite song of the album, never failing to brighten up the day whenever it is on.

04 - Anointed

A song with heavy sexual overtones that are mixed in with ceremonial and religious imagery, it is a dirty number that sounds as if it was conceived by Depeche Mode and Pet Shop Boys.  Its darker sound is a perfect contrast to 'Ceremonial (Burst into Stars)' which shows a confidence in their own sound at this point, which is something you would expect from these men.  It is the sort of song that would make some people blush and others smile knowingly, what is there not like here?

05 - To Be Alone

We are back to the sound of 'Music 2000' again on this number, it is really uncanny how much this music reminds me of that game.  It is a number that only really comes to life in the high-energy chorus sections of the song, in the verses it feels a little too light and does not have any really presence. 

06 - Black at The Centre

With a lighter touch for the most part, 'Black at The Centre' is a number that almost works for me.  When it is quieter and gentle, with only Davey Havok's vocals being raised, then it works on so many levels.  This time it is the chorus sections that let the song down, they feel forced in comparison to those fragile verses; I like it as it is still a good song, but it feels like it could have been so much more.

07 - Curious Friends

This song is so OTT, it is a club hit in waiting with a sense of style, fun, love, bitchy sentiment and a larger than life presence.  A song about someone being absent and the longing for a return of emotion, it is all played out on the song with a massive chorus that just keeps on going throughout the whole song for my money.

08 - Graphic Violence

The top layer of synth on this album does not quite work here, it is very Stock, Aitken & Waterman in sound and it makes the song hard to love. Once again, it is not an awful or bad number as it is still passable, but it is one that just feels a little messy.

09 - I'm A Mess

In comparison, 'I'm A Mess' seems like it is a tranquil pond of serenity. However, it is a well-crafted pop song which is dealing with the emotional fallout of a relationship.  It is a beautiful number, crafted with ease and simple in delivery.

10 - Material

'Material' is the penultimate song of the album, a reflective number that has a minimal synth pattern and a heavy bass & drum machine combination draped over the lyrics and synth.  It is a strange number for me, you expect it to go for the high tempo and it sort of drifts a little.  It is a good song with a good hook, but it is still a little too strange for me.

11 - You Will Hate Me

Ending on an OTT moment, this song is just throwing everything out there and seeing how it turns out at the end of the day.  With a club feeling, it just shines like a diamond towards the end of the album with this tale of failed love.  It is a great song, hitting all the right moments and leaving you with a smile on your face.

I find myself liking this a lot, despite the sound reminding me of the PlayStation One DJ game 'Music 2000'.  This is not a dig at the band at all, I obviously like the sound and it is so retro that it is coming back around - as I said before, it is a little uncanny how much it sounds like that era of electronica and that game.  It is stylised within an inch of its existence and have those euphoric moments that make everything seem golden when played loud, the band have created a bright mirror to reflect against A.F.I. and it makes so much sense that two of the members have created something like this. Sure, there are a few filler numbers on here as well, but what pop album does not have a few tracks which do not quite has the same level of intensity as the bigger songs? It is an album which is very dramatic, OTT and a bit Pet Shop Boys in places; basically, I think it is a fun record, even though it is dealing with some serious subjects and that is down to the high-tempo Dark Wave synth, definitely one of the strange and outlandish albums of the year for all the right reasons.

7 out of ten - This is good and worth checking out

Top track - Ceremonial (Burst into Stars)

You can purchase Materials from Amazon here.

You can visit the Blaqk Audio website here.

You can follow the activities of Blaqk Audio on Facebook here.

You can stream Material on Spotify here.

You can stream Material on Tidal here.

You can stream Material on Deezer here.

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