Film, Miscellaneous, Reviews

An Experiment If I Ever Saw One: Hybrid’s Sound-System_01 Film and Electronica Remixes (Review)

June 22, 2009 | | 1 Comment Share thison Facebook An Experiment If I Ever Saw One: Hybrid’s Sound-System_01 Film and Electronica Remixes (Review)on Twitter

I guess electronic music doesn’t immediately come to mind when you think about nerdy music, but I’m rather nerdy, and I enjoy electronic music, and I know a lot of nerds who are really into it. While I’ve been a fan of Hybrid for quite some time, their 2008 Sound-System_01 release caught my attention as a 2-disc remix album of film and commercial electronic music.

The first disc pays tribute to film composers such as Harry-Gregson Williams, who you should know from his work on the Metal Gear Solid series, as well as tracks from Babel, 28 Days Later, and Kingdom of Heaven. The second disc is a more traditional electronic experience with remixes of top electronic acts like Sasha, Quivver, and Long Range. Needless to say, it’s an interesting piece of work and definitely something to look into if you’re a fan.

Hit the jump for our review of Hybrid’s Sound-System_01 from Nettwerk.

As I noted the first disc features remixes of various film scores, and the most interesting thing is that each track is blended perfectly into the next, creating a cohesive listening experience from start to finish. While this aides the flow of the album, it admittedly makes it difficult to track down the most memorable moments on the disc, as you’re already a few minutes into a given track in most cases before you even realize you’re onto the next track.

The film tracks are mostly ambient in nature, blending orchestral and electronic elements, but I would like to point out the most memorable moments. It opens with “Desert Chase,” originally by Harry Gregson-Williams. Sparse pads and warbled swells make for an unsettling ambiance that is highly reminiscent of some of Matt Uelmen’s desert tracks from Diablo II. One of my favorites on his disc is “Parks on Fire,” by Trifonic, with its steady percussion, groovy bassline, and distorted synth lines that take you to another world. It really grabs your attention after hearing the cinematic cues that precede it. “Last Day of Winter” by Victor Lovers is another such track that makes use of mechanical whirs, clicks, and clatters along with a seemingly random and distant belltone melody that creates the sensation of movement. “Going Home” from John Murphy’s work on 28 Days Later brings home the standard orchestral electronic sound, but is unfortunately quite short at 1:40.

This disc closes on an odd note. “Shadows of the City” by Charlotte James is an epic 9 minute track with a brooding progression and some awesome filtered percussion. The star, however, is the amazing female vocals. They’re melancholy and stand in perfect contrast to the beautiful and longing violins. There’s a powerful climax with this piece, so it’s even more odd that this isn’t the last track on the disc. “Arp Thing” is an amazing bridge into the next vocal track, hitting you with one of those contemplative victory moments that reminds me of Christopher Young’s ending theme from Rounders. “World Citizen” by Ryuichi Sakamoto makes use of British male vocals and a minimalistic belltone melody and heart monitor-esque beeping in the background. With such a simple sound, the pads that are added to the mix later on have a huge impact despite their low key character. Harry Gregson-Williams closes things out with “Man on Fire,” climaxing with some tribal chanting with lots of electronic effects that makes for a cool ending to a really unique listening experience.

The second disc features Hybrid remixing other electronic artists, starting with one of my favorite artists, Sasha. Unfortunately “Coma” isn’t my favorite Sasha track, but it makes for a nice intro as it slowly builds up in intensity. Quivver’s “Surin” is where it’s at. This one sounds like it belongs on the dance floor with its 4/4 techno percussion, deep bass, and catchy synth lines with lots of delay. I actually found the next track, “Identity,” by Luke Dzierzek to grate on my nerves with its flanged synth lines, dropping tempos, and clicky percussion. Long Range puts things back on track, however, with “Just One More,” with its fat snare drums that sound like a smack in the face. I really found myself digging this 8-minute long track. “Lonesfield” by Soliquid takes things back to the desert with shakers, distant screeching ambiance, and descending arpeggios voicing an upbeat melody.

Next up is a Hybrid track, “$50 Pistol,” titled the “Shifter & Carvell Mix.” This is a heavy one with a crushing bassline and distorted electronic sounds. Lank’s “Confrontation” is one of the most bold tracks on the album with its high-pitched synth lines, although I prefer the breakdown about half way through the piece with its beautifully layered pads and scattered synth lines. Another tragedy is the amazingly catchy “Electro Pop” by Stefano Greppi that comes in at just 1:30. The faded vocals and twittering bell synths lend the piece a sweet sound. Fortunately all of these elements carry over into the final track on the album, “Shivva” by Elite Force, where they are expounded even further and will have you bopping your head to the finish line.

While I’m a fan of the Hybrid duo, and always enjoy their original compositions, Sound-System_01 offers a change of pace, exposing listeners to a variety of artists from both film and the electronic scene. If anything, I found it an educational experience, sparking my interest in a number of the artists featured, as well as reinforcing my appreciation for Hybrid’s tasteful marriage of orchestral melodies with electronic beats. I recommend checking this experimental album out if you’re a fan of electronic music, as there really isn’t any reason why you shouldn’t enjoy this album as much as I did.

Do you have some favorite commercial electronic artists that you’d like to recommend? Do you think Hybrid’s work in the film industry will eventually lead them to games, and are you excited by this prospect?

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