Review Summary: A heavily overlooked electronic/acoustic cyberpunk masterpiece.
It’s often that some supremely talented musicians and composers out there get missed out on, whether that be due to a lack of publicity, sheer modesty or a low commercial source of output (in this case, a mod). Ed Harrison serves an original and diverse plate of electronica tones, pianos, guitars and violins with hints of cultural Japanese influences and instrumentation. The product is a cyberpunk masterpiece of atmospheric, electronic music that is both unique and engrossing.
While there are wide uses of different instruments and influences, what Ed Harrison seems to master among all this is the power of simplicity in his song writing. No track tries to be too progressive that it may draw away listeners, which is a craft among the huge amounts of experimentation on this album. Each track builds and develops themselves around catchy and atmospheric melodies, making them more memorable, rather than adding ambitious shifts. Take one of the longer tracks and personal favourite, “Tin Soldiers”, which plays around with a glitchy, almost robotic piano melody in the first half and then manipulates it into a fast paced drumbeat fest of pure emotion in the second half. “Annul” sustains a memorable bass line and weaves and dives around different lead lines, including vocals, and still maintains interest over its marathon six and a half minutes.
Wherever you may tread in this album you are always bound to find something different. “Automata” is an impressive genre-hybrid of western and electronica, possessing near-natural drums, acoustic guitar and violins, along with tasteful synth textures. “Rebuild” adds a more classic and cultural feel with its more traditional sounding drumwork, while haunting violins dominate the expressive “Radius”. Ed Harrison’s distinctive electronica-acoustic formula is at its most destructive on songs like “Tin Soldiers”, “Impetus” and another highlight, "Departure", while at its most mellow and ambient on the likes of “Welcome”, “Prabhava” and “Out”. Among all this, the album sustains a clear evocative atmosphere that isn’t lost among the album’s experimentation. I would recommend "Departure" as your first listen simply because it sums up the atmosphere and emotion of the album in a concise two and a half minutes; a "teaser" if you will.
If you are a fan of any electronic music, a bit of anime fanatic or, well, a fan of music all together, I highly recommend checking this out.
Although I lack knowledge of the Half Life 2 mod itself (being a mac user, I can't play it), I would also recommend checking it out if it is still active.