In the world of electronic music there aren't too many projects or acts that survive for a very long time. Only a few big names can output music at a constant rate for longer than 10 years. Somatic Responses, responsible for some of my all-time favorite albums, is such a project. 2008 brings their latest full album, marking another important change in their style.
Somatic Responses has been outputting music since 1995, visiting an impressive range of quality labels, including Praxis, Zhark, Uncivilized World, Component, Ad Noiseam, Sublight and of course Hymen. Their 9th full album sees them returning to the old Hymen stable.
Somatic Responses has been defying classification since the early beginning. As they started out they took their influences from hardcore and terror, later on they evolved to more IDM like sounds, working their way up to breakcore, but always remaining close to their typical style and broken beats. They never really belonged to a certain crowd and never really compared to other artists.
With Digital Darkness they took another turn, following the current acid hype. Needless to say, they didn't just jump on the bandwagon, they reinterpreted the new acid wave to fit the SR mold. The result is a culmination of 13 years Somatic Responses, banging, pounding and blowing from start to finish.
Digital Darkness might not be a true concept album, it surely behaves like one. It's difficult to pick any favorite tracks from the album, and upon listening the first couple of times there are not many tracks that draw your immediate attention. The album is all about experiencing the whole. There aren't many easily recognizable elements (string melodies or vocal samples), but there's a very nice flow between the songs in the track list to connect everything together.
As for their new style, Digital Darkness sounds like a combination of all their previous influences. In Cut Up Musick, the use of old 303 samples is most notable, recreating the dirty sound of the good old hardcore tracks. Go On features the typical flangey sound effects found in their IDM-inspired times, the title track brings out the breakcore influences and shreds any remaining doubts.
Some have called this their most banging album to date, but that's probably because they are not familiar with some of their older tracks. That said, Digital Darkness is a truly banging and pumping experience from start to finish. Melodies are hidden behind layered structures of distorted and fucked up rhythms (but they are definitely there) and beats keep pounding away throughout the album. After the final crunches have faded away, there's a definite feeling of adrenaline rush, slowly fading as the peace and quiet settles in again.
There's little use in commenting on individual tracks, though Digital Darkness is my obvious favorite. The albums works marvelously as a whole, with no weak points, marking another good step forward for the two brothers. Impressive as an album, even more impressive considering they've been making music for more than 10 years in a row. Everyone with a taste for harsh and relentless electronica should check this out.
Samples and label promos can be found on the Hymen site.