Review: Electric Eye – 'Different Sun'

This is the second album by Norwegian group Electric Eye, and its one that gave me some trouble. Those of you that hate surprises please be aware that this review turns out positively for all involved, however its a twisting road to get there.

The sound here is both experimental and progressive. It’s an interesting blend that will polarise listeners, but it’s a fascinating recording nonetheless. Those of you with progressive leanings will pick out at least fifteen possible influences by the end of the first track. My overarching sense of this is that of a huge soundscape where time loses any relevance. By the second track I was channeling ‘Pink Floyd at Pompeii’, and it was even more surprising when I saw that referenced in the PR blurb, so well done PR dude. That Floyd cinema experience is also a polarising experience, with a vast gap between those who adore every nuance, and those who believe that’s its a cure for insomnia. But the comparison is there purely because Electric Eye have put together a eclectic recording which will either delight or challenge.

Rather than going through the seven tracks on this album, we can take this album in three parts. The first three songs on this album have a drone psychedelic feel, with huge guitars and very little bass low end all over laid with a monotone synth line. There are layers upon layers, guitar and drum line unchanging, which the synth washes out. There is a cover of simple vocal, almost spoken and echoing across the mix. The guitars are distorted as the keyboards dance through and over the mix creating counter melodies. The drum line increases in intensity and moves across the songs. As I said, the first three tracks all have the same similar sound, and if they had a glide between them, it would be considered to be three movements of the same song. All very progressive I know, but the third song, ‘Mercury Rise’, lifts and we have a T-Rex riff and the same almost spoken word vocal. All of these songs are in no real hurry to go anywhere, but there are so many different channels passing through the mix there is never a dull moment. A simple, desolate solo is challenged by a dozen, maybe more, instruments and rhythms coming from each side of the mix. It lifts the song up and on. A great opening and I’m thoroughly enjoying this.

The next three songs take a completely different slant. All of a sudden, we have a bass line that fills me with unhappy memories of the Happy Mondays. The same echoed slide guitar is there, but that bass line is taking us in a whole new direction. Although we have a metallic and industrial feel to the fifth song, ‘Heavy Steps On The Desert Floor’, we dive back into a very 1990s drum beat and driven bass, with the guitars all feeling very samey. Its not until the sixth track, ‘Never Fade Away’ it all comes together and forms the best track on the album. It takes the eclectic washed out tones of the first three songs and matches them to the more modern, driven tones of the following songs. If this is the direction that Electric Eye intends to continue in, then they are definitely onto a winner. It has its roots in the sixties, that bass is Britpop of the 1980s, and that drumbeat is jazzed up Manchester nightclubs of the 1990s, but you know what, it all comes together with the understated monotone vocals. I love this. Great track. More of this, please.

So, the last track of the album is completely different and totally out there. Forget Floyd, or Pompeii, or anything about Britpop, this is a synthfest. The drummer has lost his jazziness ,and the guitarist has put down the slide. The rhythm is simple, plodding bass, and the rest is keyboards until we drop into a lazy, warbling guitar line. For those progressive types that enjoy your electronica, there is a feeling of the commercial sound popularised by Eric Serra, but it has so many familiar dips and hoots as Jarre’s ‘Ethnicolor’ that I was immediately attracted to this track. As great as this album is, this track is both a standout and odd-one-out. Great track, but it does not dovetail into any other part of the recording. That all said, I’ve been around progressive and experimental electronic music long enough to just nod and put it on again.

The best advice that I can give you about this recording is to seek it out and give it a go. Given the world we live in, where you can pick and choose any download from an album, I suggest that those of you with a straight rock background should drop the needle straight onto track six, ‘Never Fade Away’. Those of you looking for a challenge should drop into track one and give, ‘Silent By The River’ a swing, and those that believe that Zoolook spoke to the masses should drop into track seven, ‘Part One’.

I’ve listened to this album a lot since it dropped into my lap. The more you listen to it, the more variances that you hear, and with that comes a feeling of the effort and passion that’s gone into it. I recommend that you give it a listen, and stick with it. It’s worth the effort.

Review: Craig Grant

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