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Ghost in the Machine - Broken from Binary
Katarzyna NINa Górnisiewicz | Detailed or mini-review submissions: song, EP/album | Suggest an artist | Music Xray sign up
Ghost in the Machine - Broken from Binary |self-released, 2015|

1. To Be Zero, 2. Crazy, 3. Estranged, 4. Lost, 5. What It Is, 6. Perfection, 7. Today is the Day, 8. Memories, 9. Hammers, 10. Samurai, 11. American Hero, 12. Feedback, 13. Drive, 14. Pressure (Billy Joel cover), 15. Time to Go Gently

The people behind Broken from Binary are a duo based in Florida, using the Ghost in the Machine moniker since 1996. We know them only by their stage names: Face (bass, programming, vocals) and C4 (vocals, guitar, programming).
The newest GITM's album brings over an hour of music that should definitely be checked out by fans of catchy cutting-edge industrial rock, metal and pop - but avid video gamers, too. Purists however, need to open their minds to enjoy the surprising concept better. The arrangements don't often repeat within a composition, but veer off into unexpected directions, as if based on bridges mostly rather than a traditional rock song structure. Therefore, expect your ears and brainwaves to be challenged frequently with this release. Here comes music dripping with seriousness, intelligence, groove, and sense of humor - all mixed together.

The album opener, 'To Be Zero', brings a lot of industrial rock references (think Gravity Kills and Die Krupps thanks to groovy bass lines and slightly mean yet seductive vocals as found in PIG's music), but that’s not all. The chorus includes a complete mood change - a nostalgic pop line you'd probably never expect to hear in a track based mostly on guitars & sampling. Once the chorus passes over, the heavy drumming gets back into the limelight.

'Crazy' and 'Drive' are comparable, since not only are they the two most coherent songs on the album overall, but also very rhythmic, even danceable. The arrangements in 'Crazy' are very well written, operating within a tight space for every instrument and vocals. The mood and tempo change at times to avoid repetitive monotony. 'Drive’' brings the industrial metal feel in vein of Rob Zombie's hit songs. The bass, guitars, and drums deliver pleasant heaviness and collaborate very well. Vocals and synths bring melodious lines in the chorus. Both tracks are potential hits, great for headbanging and stomping, and thus industrial/goth radio & dancefloor-friendly.
'Hammers' makes for a good match with the two aforementioned songs, but it adds sugared pop melodies and less tense arrangements.

'Estranged' and 'Samurai' let listeners take a break from high energy tracks thanks to a much slower tempo. The guitars are still heavy in 'Estranged' but the track seems to be mostly written to underline the lyrical content of the song. It sounds truly memorable with its anthem-esque vibe.

'Samurai' brings a nostalgic yet romantic feel. The lyrics tell a short dramatic story of an iconic Japanese warrior and his beloved woman who was killed due to a stealth attack while he was winning a war. Vocals sound extremely radio-friendly but the overall arrangements are not deprived of heavier moments. When you hear the ending verse: 'Now I pray for her' - James Hetfield's characteristic accent may come to mind.
The last track, 'Time to Go Gently', also brings a more delicate, almost a lullaby-like vibe - at least at start. Since GITM excels at musical surprises, the arrangements begin getting heavier in the second, then even more intense in the third part of the song - thanks to the increased tempo, the loud drum beat, and the imposition of angry, hateful vocals.

'Lost' brings a distinctive melodic line and mixes heavy and soft tunes. The arrangements fit perfectly into the overall composition, carrying a danceable, electro-music feel at times. Despite such repetitions, there are plenty of interesting irregularities to keep the track fresh for your ears.

'Today Is The Day' shows a skillful mix of alt-metal and electro sounds, through the nicely down-tuned guitar riffs with melodic choruses. The composition is somewhat complex and offers plenty of space for many different arrangements that don't interfere with the original leitmotif.

When 'What It Is' starts off with its synth lines, experienced listeners may second-guess what’s coming next - the song is going to explode with rhythm any second now. Surely enough, it does bring a lively groove and a lot of elements straight from pop. There's a big dose of fun as well, with additional gap fillers such as rock riffs or even a flute. It sounds like a great track for an anime, for listeners of all ages, ranging from little children to grey-haired elders.

In a similar fashion, 'Perfection' includes a plentiful dose of techno & EBM dynamics. Fans of KMFDM will feel at home thanks to a well known vocal effect and the method of aligning vocals with the beat. There's a great balance between verses and choruses - each appear at the right moment. This purely electronic song is another potential hit on the album.

'American Hero' also qualifies for that, thanks to its pop-disco rhythm and sound effects. It is a '2-in-1' composition though, built upon two matching parts which are then separated with a bit of silence halfway through the track. It may turn out to be popular in the movie or gaming industries thanks to its beat driven, memorable choruses.

GITM's original music is perhaps best represented by 'Memories'. It's a guitar driven track which is built upon a fast but not monotonous rhythm, melodious arrangements, and a dominating drum beat. On top of that, it clearly proves that not only can these musicians write twisted yet mature compositions but also apply a specific instrumentation through their craft. Vocals, bass and drums are such as mostly heard in metal music. The rhythm guitars match rock, whereas background synths are usually heard in pop and electro.

With so many songs on the tracklist it’s obvious that any smart band in a similar situation would challenge themselves to come up with a stand-out composition. Thus, the standard and the modern meet in 'Feedback'. At first, a classic hard rock reference (think Led Zeppelin or Pink Floyd) may come to mind - GITM may have even used a Hammond organ in this one. Then, all of a sudden, a digitally beefed-up drum beat and modern rock/alt-metal vocals arrive. Fans of Nine Inch Nails won't go wrong with this track either, when they hear the unexpectedly fitting lines: 'Nothing, nothing, nothing will get me to testify / No way, no way, no way that you'll get me to lie'. This, along with characteristic guitar riffs and bass lines make for an unmistakable tribute to Trent Reznor's 90s music. The instrumental versatility, slow but still rocking tempo, and overall professional production make 'Feedback' an extremely memorable track.

Finally, a cover song. GITM have chosen 'Pressure' by Billy Joel, however their version is rather a close cousin of Joel's original despite the addition of a digitally improved beat, a bit of sampling and heavier guitars. It would be awesome to watch a smart video single accompanying this cover, that pointed out contemporary social pressures resulting in fear and frantic overreaction.

Broken from Binary is a well-thought out, masterfully executed, and highly entertaining cross-genre mash-up. Face and C4, blend several and typical sound effects or arrangements borrowed from trivial urban pop, chunky industrial dynamics, or vintage hard rock like true alchemists. The duo don't let themselves go astray in spite of utilizing a wide variety of different musical options, because their compositions are based on steady motifs. This technique remains the band's 'specialty of the house', whether it is an attempt to challenge their own song-writing skills, to please multi-subculture listeners, or to have ready-made arrangements for various commercial uses (ads, jingles, TV shows, video games, etc.) In fact, GITM have already successfully submitted music for a variety of major TV networks, brands and independent films.
The album's excellent audio production and mastering indicate that these musicians not only write and sell their music successfully, but can also provide other professional, studio-related services.

(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Music Magazine, December 22nd, 2015. Proofreading: Mike 'Vesper' Dziewoński)

Interview with GITM - read here

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