From a band who's first cd got them labelled as a British Tool clone, Miocene took a big leap sideways, but they fell into a portal around half way which transported them through the galaxy, where they found crystals of knowledge that taught thems some tricks of making electronic music[/DFelon], this CD is the result.
The term "electronic" here shouldn't be thought of as like dance music, it is mostly far from it. If Tool went off in an electronic direction, it would probably sound something like this. They are not scared of doing things their own way, they didn't want to make something they knew people would like, they wanted something people would grow to like, conform to their way of making music, not the current trends.
They may not be the most technical musicians out there, there is surely some above averageness in their instrument playing, the genius lies in the arrangement and mixing (their own versions) of real and electronic music. Cohesiveness and flow is good for any music, they show they know it, I don't need to say much about that.
Alex - bass
Ben - vocals, programming
Graham - guitars, programming
Leo - drums
Track by track? There's only 6, so why not.
: Some simple melodic yet droning chants, along with some ahhh's. I see where a part of the Tool comparison was drawn with the Maynard-like voice. After a bit theres some screaming behind the chanting, but it drops off again. Not much to say about it really.
: A sequencing of watery electronic drum, guitar string scrapes, soft synth horns, and electric squiggles on a semi-laid back pulsing rhythm that anyone could tap their foot/nod their head to. Then the real instruments take over and play similar ideas, but more gutsy. The real and electronic components mix more and more as the song progresses, and the climax is a strange frenzy synth horns of that reminds me of animals scrambling for food.
State Of Flux
: Well hey, singing does feature in their music, it's just a bit faster than Katie Sierra, but much more rock-like. There's some cool high guitar chords. Theres a more laid back chorus. After about 2:30 theres a harder bit and some aggressive wah'd muted guitar which builds up the energy. Electronic influences don't come for a while, and they aren't very prominent either, there's just some reverse guitar. Then at 4:40, another aggro wah-mute bit like before builds up, and eventually the song turns to chaos by the end.
: Drum'n'Bass from a real band point of view, and they did a great job. I'd say the drummer sampled each sound off his kit and sequenced them as it sounds way too fast to be played as is - another way to mix real and electronic music.
In the soft parts, there's orchestral sounds like horns and a cello building the tension and anxiety levels up very high. Then just at the right moment, the buildup of anxiety and tension causes it to go critical with frantic and aggressive drumming while still retaining the synth horns/strings. This song would be great to hear while driving.
The Harpie And The Preacher
: Vocals return once more for the first half of this track, it is always slow, calm and dark. The guitar is just a high riff in polyrhythm with the drums and bass. I don't think there is any electronic bit's apart from the ambient middle section. After that, the last 5 minutes have no vocals and the music gets faster and aggressive. There's no solos, it's more noise and feel based, and yes it does stay interesting by the dynamics of the music alone.
Why Metal Sucks In 2002
: Fans of DJ Shadow would probably recognize the title, and some of the content too. It is based on his song Why Hip Hop Sucks In 1999(?).
It's a laid back piece, some funky sounding guitar playing and interesting bassline, alongside is the strange synth horn arrangements that have featured strongly throughout this cd. After 3 minutes, there's a few vocal samples saying "It's the money". Then the song goes into a 2 minute ambient comedown of keyboard and feedback. I don't listen to this one much.
OK, I'm more than confident that Miocene achieved what they wanted with this very ambitious project. The musical elements are rather unusual, but they still fall into place nicely.
Fans of Tool's music could probably get into Cellular Memory pretty easily, I did. There would be a few other bands around that would make for an easy transition to this as well, I just can't think of any right now.. maybe Massive Attack? There's still a few small bits that I don't like so much, but I guess a project like this isn't going to be for everyone.
For someone coming from a less alternative base, there still could be some elements that appeal, as long as you have an open mind, the rest should grow around it.
For fans of pop/top 40 stuff... nevermind.
According to Miocene, Cellular Memory sucks in comparsion to what they have written since (which is yet to be released). These guys set very high standards for themselves so I hope they live up to all they say.
One more thing worth saying about this CD is that they released it as a single (or an EP at the very most), so it should be quite cheap. But if you're not in the UK, your chance of finding this would probably drop significantly (p = 0.01). So find some British people and do a trade or something.
Rating time... well... 10/10 for ambition and musical construction, 7.5/10 for the instrument playing and general accesibility. This hasn't been the easiest cd to write about either.. so is that good or bad?
I'd give a 9/10 overall, good to see some really super-alternative stuff happening, they risk alienation to do their own thing, and to some, that may just be an inticement to listen. It's not 10/10 because I like most, but not every single bit in here, and that could be the same for everyone who listens.
Once more, that is a 9/10
I'd only recommend State Of Flux to start with as it's probably the most "normal" of these songs.