Blaqk Audio
CexCells


3.0
good

Review

by Nick Greer EMERITUS
August 7th, 2007 | 42 replies | 10,943 views


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: At the end of the day, CexCells is a strong release, with compelling moments, but will not stand out as anything more than a side project in the annals of electronic music.

Blaqk Audio - CexCells

When I was about 15, at the height of my (and my friends') obsession with the then seemingly local band AFI, The Art of Drowning had been keeping it real for about a year or so and AFI were recording their major label debut, which would become Sing the Sorrow. I remember in 10th grade thinking that AFI might be selling out in going to Dreamworks and that weakly shattered my fragile sophomore world. Oh no they used to be tru punx?! Nah, I sort of understood that AFI had always marched to the beat of their own drum, but I didn't gather the full impact of this until my friends and I had an opportunity to go to an AFI meet and greet in San Francisco at the Metreon. The local alternative radio station had set up their Christmas-time booth in the middle of a hallway there and had been broadcasting for a few weeks anticipation of this and other meet and greets with Bay Area bands. We showed up 5 hours early, 3 hours before any other fan show up (and AFI fans are rather die hard, see The Despair Faction). We were so excited to be part of this world that we were too fanboyish and made a diehard faux pas in showing up so early that we ended up wasting our time. Anyways, our garrulous Indian friend Rahul chatted up whatever deejay was spinning the afternoon (ya it really was that early) records and made sure that we'd be the first to get to ask AFI a preposterously nervous and sophomoric question about their major label status and their new album. Short of just ripping on my 15 year-old self for the rest of the paragraph, AFI were super gracious to see all of the fans show up and really appreciated the inarticulate questions that were thrown at them. We were treating to Davey and co. selecting the playlist for most of the hours leading up to them debuting two new tracks ("The Leaving Song pt. 2" and "Girls Not Grey"). Davey's playlist included some unexpected influences though. I recognized his "darker" post-punk and new wave influences from interviews and just from listening to AFI's back catalogue, but I never really noticed Davey's fascination with electronic music until that night. Listening to some select Covenant tracks really set my mind in confusion about what AFI was really about. Then ultimately, being turned on by the electronics on Sing the Sorrow and subsequently turned off by the electronics in Decemberunderground, I sort of filed that influence away as unremarkable and unfortunate. Sure Davey likes this crap, but why can't I just have Black Sails in the Sunset and listen to Covenant on the side? Well, now there's Blaqk Audio's CexCells to add to this conundrum.

Blaqk Audio is Davey Havok's dark ambient, electronic, pop, post-punk, and house inspired side project with AFI guitarist Jade Puget. The idea behind their debut album CexCells can be distilled to one simple idea: copy Covenant. While not a bad thought in theory, since Covenant is pretty cool, nobody likes to see pure imitation. As a nice complication to the notion of straight-up copying a style, Davey and Jade seem to be injecting their music with a little bit of AFI's superior sense of harmonic progressions and ambience. Covenant is definitely goofy in their dark poppiness, but CexCells demands a lot more respect. Its songwriting is impressive and seems to be fostered by years of strong songwriting in AFI. A little dragged down by the constructs of creating "dark" electronic music, some of the songs are a unnecessarily demure and subdued, but other than that, I am fairly surprised with how the tracks turned out. The album doesn't move me as a whole, but all of the individual songs are pretty nice. Davey and Jade seem to have also learned a thing or two from the superior production found on most of AFI's albums that post-date 1997; the "dark" atmospheres, which are goofy in the hands of similar artists, come across as sincere and authentic, instead of synthetic and contrived, which perfectly ties in with the more sophisticated songwriting.

However, there are unfortunate parts of the album too. It completely relies on Davey's vocal performance. The songs, while stronger than your average pop songs, are really just ways to provide Davey's enigmatic voice with a backdrop. I can't help but feel that this is a pet project and the technical prowess required to make a significant work of electronic music will not be attained by this side project. The attention paid to an album like Rossz Csillag... by Venetian Snares or The Richard D. James Collection by Aphex Twin isn't really being touched here. Most of electronic music's appeal is its ability to both imitate and augment the realities of "natural" or "analog" music. CexCells does none of that. It's merely AFI songs, led by Davey's strong vocals, subdued by the trapping of electronic music. Sure, it's better than your average dark house release because of that, but it pales in comparison to other significant works, and doesn't quite touch to emotional content provided by a band that does this as their primary function, like Covenant, who's key tracks like "Invisible and Silent" blow any individual song on CexCells out of the water. Also, at 50 minutes in length, CexCells is a little too long to just be relying on being an electronic limb of Davey Havok sans true passion. At the end of the day, CexCells is a strong release, with compelling moments, but will not stand out as anything more than a side project in the annals of electronic music, if not just music in general.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Fort23
August 7th 2007



2469 Comments


I realy want this, Im gonna review it when I find it.
Good job on the review too.

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
August 7th 2007



3752 Comments


M, this sounds really interesting, even with the lowish rating.

Digging: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - Days Of Abandon

StrizzMatik
August 7th 2007



3158 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I got this the other day. I hear a LOT of Depeche Mode influence in it at times, particularly his voice. I thought it was a decent album but my g/f LOVES it since she's into that sort of sh*t. I'd give it a strong 3.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
August 7th 2007



3995 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

[quote=Strizz]I'd give it a strong 3[/quote]

12345

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
August 7th 2007



15691 Comments


Strong review, though I kind of think the opening paragrah could have been shaved down a little bit, but the last two paragraphs are ace review.

Not really interested in this, as I'm not a huge fan of AFI, and electronic solo projects by frontmen of my favorite artists (Billy Corgan, Thom Yorke) haven't failed to suck.

Digging: Nmesh - Dream Sequins® [AMDISCS]

The Jungler
August 7th 2007



4827 Comments


I agree with Electric City about the review, but not about Thom Yorke, wtf man that album ruled.
I heard two songs on myspace and they kind of embarrassed me. Who knows though, I might end up listening to this.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
August 7th 2007



15691 Comments


wtf man that album ruled.


No it didn't... To me it was one recycled beat and Thom sounding paranoid beyond the point of sympathizing with him.


Kaleid
August 7th 2007



709 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Rather Modey, indeed

I like Stiff Kittens. I dunno, it doesn't quite seem like a bunch of AFI tracks with synths slapped on; it's a little more sincere than that, as you pointed out; but maybe they're better off sticking with what they're more comfortable with

Nice reviewThis Message Edited On 08.07.07

pinurwingsback
August 7th 2007



27 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

it makes no sense because its a fragment. not a sentence

DFelon204409
Emeritus
August 7th 2007



3995 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Oh my bad I just stopped writing haha.

meliffy18
August 7th 2007



50 Comments


youre damn right i love this album!! it's like a reinterpreted version of depeche mode.

ok review, it doesnt say much about the album and the long blurb on AFI could be shortened a bit. this band sounds nothing like AFI; while Davey's voice is undeniably prominent, the style is completely different. quite honestly, after Decemberunderground dropped, i'd given up on AFI completely. this was a nice deviation. also, you mentioned how his vocals were too prominent on this album; i think thats a good thing. he has a great voice and the latest AFI release didnt do him any justice.
This Message Edited On 08.07.07This Message Edited On 08.07.07This Message Edited On 08.07.07

Bfhurricane
August 7th 2007



6194 Comments


Cool review, ill check this out (being an avid AFI fan). I wasnt expecting anything fantastic but well see

DFelon204409
Emeritus
August 7th 2007



3995 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

For the diehard AFI fans who thikn this is so legit, I'm curious: have you guys heard Covenant. Blaqk Audio realllllly rips them off. No joke.

emogangstascotty
August 8th 2007



472 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I will also write my own personal review once this record is released here. I am very excited about it, after hearing some previews on myspace, Im def buying this.

Abaddon2005
August 8th 2007



684 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I'm curious: have you guys heard Covenant. Blaqk Audio realllllly rips them off. No joke.


I agree with Strizz that it's more Depeche Mode. Regardless it's still solid. Funny as I can't think of anything I like that AFI put out but I dig this.

StrizzMatik
August 8th 2007



3158 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Dave Bascombe (Depeche Mode, Tears For Fears, Erasure, Echo And The Bunnymen) actually produced this. Pretty cool.

Kaleid
August 8th 2007



709 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

[quote="StrizzMatik"]Dave Bascombe actually produced this[/quote]
Didn't know that, that explains it, then.

I still agree with the rating; it seems like good stuff, but a little awkward

Fort23
August 8th 2007



2469 Comments


the leak on myspace is pretty good, I like it, but its pretty deriving. O yea nick, cex cells is srewed up in your summary.

meliffy18
August 10th 2007



50 Comments


kaleid, your avatar is awesome!!

kingsoby1
Emeritus
August 14th 2007



4829 Comments


The review is far too wordy, and most of it lacks actual substance about the album/ project at hand. I agree about the rating though... it's a solid first effort at industrial.

Digging: Nmesh - Dream Sequins®



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