Blackstar Act One: Purified
Klayton’s one of the best there is when it comes to industrial soundscapes, even if his music isn’t quite as aggressive or scathing as many other acts in the scene. He’s molded his own path which seems to mix house, techno, trance and even dubstep together with elements of hard rock. Celldweller has never ventured into the realms of heavy metal, and I don’t expect them to – there’s more than enough great material on previous effort Wish Upon A Blackstar to capture fans with their very accessible touch to electronic rock that should ensnare those who wouldn’t be able to get into it otherwise. The record was undoubtedly catchy, making this atmosphere-laden piece a definite untapped area for the artist. Oddly enough, this is the soundtrack to a book that is included along with the album. I’ve overviewed it, but have not even had the time to skim its quaint seventy-five page length. (I’ll also add that I prefer paperback or hardcover copies when it comes to books, as it’s much easier on the eyes.) So you’ll not be getting a book review from me. At least, not this time.
As for the album that adorns this book, it is essentially just a little over twenty minutes of new music, spanning the length of an EP but with two instrumental tracks tacked onto the end. This is odd for Klayton, a man known for giving us fifteen to twenty minute commentary tracks explaining the song, as were released on several of the single tracks that released individually for Wish Upon A Blackstar. (Yes, it was a very interesting way to release an album.) The first song on the disc is “Retros,” which certainly hearkens back to the eighties, but it is there that the song is successful. There are unnecessary spoken voice clips on the track, which are rectified in the included “instrumental version.” The next song, “Purified” is the most commercially viable track on the album in that it sounds less like a soundtrack piece and could have worked as a separate single. Though I don’t care for the dubstep in this one, I grit my teeth and bear it, realizing that he’s used it in a fashion that doesn’t leave me clawing my eyes out. Remember, this is a man who has been working with electronics for ages now, before some of you were even born, and I’ll trust that he knows what he’s doing. “A Dystopian Utopia” comes in unexpectedly after, a more refreshing piece that simply allows for flow as the Neo-Urban textures illustrate a world made of circuits, gears and wires. The steel soaked walls house the machinations inside, things far gone from the term human, even though none of these things are probably mentioned in the book. “The Possibilities Of Purpose” see things a bit jauntier, with a dance-groove vibe and the landscape of a sprawling cyber city that floats high into the atmosphere. The sky might now be an unbreathable shade of bright green, but the inhabitants have long surpassed the need for lungs. Finally, we get to our final piece in the drone (yes, I said drone) that is “On The Surface Of Scardonia.” It seems rather ill willed, like the kind of music that might decorate the post-apocalyptic wasteland found in my Will’s Downfall trilogy. The piece is extremely desolate, devoid of all hope and elicits the whole of human suffering in a little less than fifteen minutes. Out of all the music that I have heard from Klayton, this has got to be the dreariest of them all, showing a completely different side to the man in addition to being a worthy enough piece to be used in cinema. It’s an example of artist evolution, for those who were turned off by the positive dance-vibes of the last release. If there’s one reason for non-Celldweller fans to check this album out, it would be based on this piece alone. I personally would like to hear darker material like this, yet I surmise that this won’t be the case given the nature of the artist. As noted, instrumental versions of “Retros” and “Purified” are also included on the disc for you listening pleasure.
While I cannot say much about the novel as I’ve only read a couple of pages and am preoccupied with my own writing work, I can say that Klayton and Celldweller have made a worthy soundtrack for the book. Apparently, the sequel will be released in 2014, which means that all of these writings are basically finished and are being released separately in a more lucrative fashion that I wholeheartedly agree with. It is infinitely difficult to make money as an author these days, as Ray Bradbury said himself with a quote; “If you marry an author, don’t expect to be rich.” But chances are that you didn’t come for the words, you came for the music – and that’s what Celldweller did with this album. Love him or hate him, Klayton is still doing what he does best as he has produced a short, yet spirited release that should offer quite a bit to chew on for Celldweller fans as it deviates from the norm and allows for one of my personal favorite words in the English language… experimentation. And there’s never anything wrong with that. (Eric May)
Purchase Blackstar Act One: Purified here: iTunes