Cyberia |Dynamica, 1994|
1. Cyberia, 2. Oxyacetylene, 3. Hatesong, 4. Build, 5. Transit, 6. Skeletal, 7. Human Drum, 8. Das Island, 9. Industry, 10. Hatesong (Extended), 11. Oxyacetylene (Extended), 12. Oxyacetylene (Extended Remix), 13. Skeletal (Remix), 14. Body Burn (Julian Beeston Mix Extended)
Since the recent news that Cubanate is re-forming, I thought it would be fitting to go back and take a look at their second full-length album "Cyberia". This album sits perfectly in the creative spectrum of Cubanate's catalogue; the more simplistic techno-style beats and production is there (a la 93's "Antimatter"), but one can also hear the creative risks being taken to move the band into a more progressive direction (a la 98's "Interference"). "Cyberia" has a nearly perfect execution of the various genre influences (metal, techno, industrial, etc), which helps this album appeal to many different listeners. Perhaps this is why the lead single, "Oxyacetylene" was licensed as the theme song to the mega-hit video game "Gran Turismo", as well as on the compilation album to support the film "Mortal Kombat".
Aside from the aforementioned "Oxyacetylene" (which is a bangin' club track with one hell of a hook), "Cyberia" is rife with hooky songs thanks to Marc Heal
's lyrical and melodic talents, as well as Phil Barry
's wizard-like ability for writing killer riffage. The duo have the gift of musical balance; they rise to the challenge of keeping things simple enough that you can remember it and sing it back, while also keeping things complex enough that you are hearing new ear candy with every play through.
Favorite tracks for me would have to be "Build", which has a badass beat accompanied by a really slick reverse drum loop that helps the song slide right into your ear canals and down your spine. "Transit", which contains wicked synth lines, phat beats, delayed vocals, and all the trimmings. "Human Drum" is one of the standout tracks as it takes the usual "four on the floor" techno feel and slows it right down to a laid back pace. This creates a heavier feel, and also changes up the usual techno feel found in other tracks on the record ("Transit", "Skeletal" etc). Also the wicked use of modulating synths, reverse loops and a super tight chorus give this track a slick feel. Lastly, the hit that is "Oxyacetylene" is of course one of the best tracks on the record. This song reminds me of a more enhanced version of Cubanate's previous hit single "Body Burn" (from "Antimatter"); it has a similar structure and sound, but I think it is executed with a bit more understanding of production and has a tighter chorus/hook.
Of course the remix of "Oxyacetylene" by Julian Beeston doesn't hurt at all and, in conjunction with his remixes of "Skeletal" and "Body Burn", wrap the album up with a nice tight bow of kickass. (Note: this remix of "Body Burn" is one of the remixes included at the end of "Antimatter", and though it is redundant, it is also a nice touch to have it included on this album).
All in all this record is certainly a must have for Cubanate fans, and for industrial rock fans in general. Though this isn't Cubanate's best effort (that honor would have to go to "Interference"), it certainly isn't their worst and they didn't pull any punches with the quality of the tracks. In fact what impresses me the most about the entire album is how modern the production sounds, especially in comparison with music that is released today – it has certainly held up very well, and they were obviously ahead of their time. I'm excited to see what the 2011 Cubanate release will sound like, and how current music technology will benefit and sculpt their ever changing, unique sound. (James Chapple, 11/17/2010)
Antimatter |Dynamica, 1993|
1. Body Burn, 2. Angeldust, 3. Autonomy, 4. Metal (D-Code Hard Mix), 5. Junky, 6. Blackout, 7. Exert/Disorder, 8. Kill or Cure, 9. Body Burn (D-Code Club Mix), 10. Angeltrance (D-Code Mix), 11. Junky (D-Code Industriance Mix), 12. Body Burn (Joolz Extended Mix)
Though "Antimatter" was released in 1993, it definitely stands the test of time as a killer album from a very influential band. I had trouble taking the CD out of my player (for all you old schoolers), or keeping this off loop play mode on my itunes (for all you new schoolers). It really is a severely listenable album by a kickass band.
The classic track "Body Burn" starts the record off, and grabs your attention right from the start. The synth lines are hype on this one, and so are the cutting guitar lines by Phil Barry. The chorus is catchy and rockin', driven home by Marc Heal's aggressive vocals. Heal manages to pump up each track with his distinctive vocal stylings; creating an out of control screaming onslaught that still maintains melody and character.
There are many great tracks on this album, but my favorite would have to be "Kill or Cure". This is one of those rare magic tracks that stays with you days after hearing it, causing one to sing it in the shower or the car. Then of course, causing one to get the CD (or mp3) to keep spinning over and over again. I literally heard this track once, and couldn't stop singing the punk infused hook for a week. This track transcends industrial rock and enters the territory of great song writing. In fact, most of the songs on this album are in the same league.
Though Cubanate delved into a more drum and bass sound on future records, most of the tracks on Antimatter are driven by hard techno beats. This obviously keeps the pulse of the tracks upbeat and driving, (and also doesn't hurt it's chances of being spun in many a club), but by the end of the album I couldn't bare to listen to one more four on the floor beat.
The programming and synth parts on Antimatter are super tight, but many of the sounds are obviously dated now. This aspect aside, the album holds up very well considering it is 15 years old. Also, the four remixes included on this disc are a great addition to the industrial onslaught Cubanate delivers. Of note is the remix of "Body Burn" by Julian Beeston (former Cubanate and Nitzer Ebb member) that caps off the album. Having "Body Burn" top and tail the record is a great way to send off the listeners with the same hyped bang that brought them into it.
I originally discovered Cubanate by retroactively following the career of Marc Heal (I am a HUGE C-Tec fan), and was pleasantly surprised by the quality of this group. This is a great debut album from one of the best industrial rock bands and it will continue to be spun on my system whenever I need a blast of pure electronic power. (James Chapple)
Interference |Wax Trax! / TVT, 1998|
1. It, 2. Isolation, 3. 9:59, 4. Hinterland, 5. Ex, 6. Internal, 7. Other Voices, 8. The Horsetrader, 9. Voids, 10. An Airport Bar
Cubanate's final album "Interference" is a perfect example of industrial music at it's finest. As I've come to know the band better in the last few years, it has been interesting for me to hear how their sound had progressed from more techno oriented production, such as their 1993 debut "Antimatter", to this balls out, jungle infused album that was ultimately their swan song.
Upon my initial listen, the first thing that jumped out to my ears was how noisy it was – however I mean that in the best possible way. One of my favorite qualities of industrial music is the use of noise in the production, and this record certainly exploits noisiness to the fullest. The beats are pushed to the limit, so they are crispy around the edges, and the synths and guitars distort in such a way that it punches the eardrums with industrial rock goodness.
The songs are more abstract than previous efforts, sometimes lacking traditional form in favor of more creative and poetic musings. "Airport Bar" is a good example of this, as lead singer Marc Heal verbalizes his observations of being trapped in the tedium of an airport bar ("It seems like I've been here forever"). It is also interesting to point out that the lyrics for the hard-core opening track "It" where improvised by Heal on the spot when he had trouble coming up with traditional vocals. It actually fits really well into the over the top, distorted feel of the track. Another great song is "Internal", which builds to a devastating peak and delivers a gut punching electronic freak-out at the end – this is definitely a track not to miss.
This more experimental form of songwriting actually works well, and makes for an interesting listen, though I do miss the hooks I found from earlier Cubanate work. That point aside, I really enjoy the tracks on this record for their long and interesting industrial compositions.
Another point to mention is the work of Canadian uber producer, and member of Frontline Assembly/Delerium, Rhys Fulber. The beats are especially reminiscent of FLA work, and take the energy of Cubanate to the next level. Fulber's production work combined with the band's hard edge sound makes a perfect marriage for industrial music fans. This is evidenced on killer tracks like "It", "The Horsetrader" and "Voids" among others.
The CD layout and artwork looks great as well (by the way - the used copy I got from Amazon for $1.50 was autographed by Heal himself – score!), it is an improvement over previous visual efforts, and the psychedelic imagery suits the music well.
It's a shame Cubanate didn't survive the 90's, as they were clearly heading into really progressive territory with their music. I would have liked to have heard further albums from them, though one can track down copies of their unreleased and incomplete follow-up album "Search Engine" online, or pick up a copy of the last two C-Tec albums featuring Heal to get a hint of where the band may have headed. Either way, this is a perfect cap to their legacy, and an enjoyable, hard-edged listen for anyone who appreciates kick ass industrial music at it's finest. (James Chapple)