SYD.31 – Machine Ready
Release Date: 02/04/2021
Running Time: 41:15
Review by Beth Jones
One of my fondest memories, back in the day, was seeing The Prodigy live at The Paleo Festival in Nyon, Switzerland, way back in 1998. I loved their heavy electronic sound, and the way they fused everything with an Industrial Metal edge. Their stage show was out of this world, too. The loss of Keith Flint left a huge hole in the music scene. He, and The Prodigy, were completely unique. I’d never really heard anything like that before, or since. That is until I heard “Machine Ready”, the new album from SYD.31.
This album encapsulates everything I loved about The Prodigy, and more. Pulling from a variety of genres, right from 70’s punk to the techno, garage, and rave scene of the 90’s, it’s a complicated and warped meld of psychotic proportions, but I bloody love it.
Dr Magic, the brains behind SYD.31 sees this as his first ever “truly solo” album, because he’s created the whole thing himself during the isolation of the Covid pandemic. He’s pulled on a variety of influences, recording the bass, guitars and vocals in a definite Punk style (but with influences from the originators of Rock ‘n’ Roll), programming the drums using techniques created by the originators of Hip-Hop, and adding in Techno beats, and the ambience of Dance and Trance. Dr Magic says about the album “If we strip away the guitars and vocals, the album is old school hip-hop, drum ‘n’ bass, and Hacienda era dance music.” It absolutely is. This is a guy who really knows his music, and that’s admirable.
His sound is also, in part, inspired by a book he was given at school in Zimbabwe, at the age of 14. “It was a Christian book warning of the demonic dangers of Punk and Shock Metal. Before I got to listen to any of the bands they mentioned, I had to imagine for years what they would sound like – demonic, unstable, sulphurous punk rock. I never did find any bands that sounded exactly like what I imagined. So I finally went and created that sound myself.”
Thematically, it explores all that is dark. Depression, fear, vulnerability, crisis, demonisation, and the bottomless pit of realisation. The track descriptions we received to go along with the album are something I’ve found fascinating to read. There are so many thought processes, observations, and memories going on, but I can hear, and visualise them all. This really is art as much as it is music, and I could see it being the soundtrack to an installation exhibition. In fact, I would actually pay good money to see that. It would be one hell of an immersive experience.
So, what does it sound like? Well, each track is different, but the masterfully handled elements of the various genres run through them all. The best I can do is this: It’s angry Keith Flint, shouting at people at an illegal rave, while in the next room The Misfits, Prince, and Chuck Berry, are rocking out together drunk, and breaking stuff, and you’re standing in the doorway between both rooms hearing it all, on a comedown from a bad trip.
There are all sorts of other elements though. Funk bass in ‘Collapsing A New Star’, tribal drums at the beginning of ‘Demon Night’, and a smattering of Death vocals further on in that track, to name but a few. There’s even a classical twist to the ambience that opens, ‘Imitating Art’. There’s so much to explore. If you want to genre it, I suppose Industrial Techno Punk Metal would sort of cover it, but I wouldn’t bother pigeonholing it to be honest. It’s art. It’s rather damn good. And I can’t stop listening to it.
‘Machine Ready’ (Official Video)
01. Intro (A Night Visitor)
02. Broken Blank
03. It Came To This
04. Imminent Failure
05. As They Let You Down
06. Collapsing New Stars
07. Demon Nigh
08. Imitating Art
09. Disassemble Me
10. Machine Ready
11. We Turned the Lights Out
12. Outro (A Visitor Departs)
Dr Magic – All Music and Madness
Chris Oscillate – Mixing and Mastering, Additional Synth on ‘Imminent Failure’, Additional 808 and all additional percussion arrangement
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