Review Summary: Typical System could have been far more than typical had Total Control stuck to their strengths
Of recent, I have had a lot of time to listen to music at work. As an Industrial Engineering student intern, I sit behind a computer working with spreadsheets and databases basically all day, crunching data, writing reports, and creating graphs and tables all day. The work is repetitive, tedious and overall pretty dull most of the time. With that said, there is a certain niche in music that I have found perfect for getting lost in my work. This niche of music is not necessarily found within any one genre of music. It is any album that can suck you in and put you in a trance like state. The type of music that can make you lose track of time, until suddenly, the music ends and you snap out of it. For the most part, Total Control has succeeded in creating this type of feeling within their album Typical System.
The opening track “Glass” is a shining example what Total Control does best. The song opens with a simple techno beat and over time is added upon with simple, quick drumming and layer upon layer of added synth beats and effects. The soothing calm lyrics then flood into the song, sliding in perfectly with the beat. The instrumentation remains almost unchanged throughout the entire song except with effects being added and subtracted at seemingly random making leading up to a very intense and hypnotizing closing. This is when Total Control is in their element, sucking the listener into the song and holding them hostage for the entire listen.
Several other songs run in a similar vein as “Glass” such as “Flesh War” and “Hunter”. Total Control is able to make repetitive and calm songs that are the same time building and intense. ‘Black Spring’ utilizes the same catchy guitar riff the entire time through that manages to not get old thanks to guitar effects and synths occasionally building onto the riff.
What I see as the major flaw in the album strikes right after the gorgeous opener. As Expensive Dog begins to play, the entire mood set by “Glass”, is struck down with abrasive and straightforward noise rock. Gone are the electronic effects and synths. Gone is the soothing and calm voice heard in the first track. In their place, Expensive Dog has crunchy and simplistic guitar accompanied by an abrasive and drowned out singing style. Total System uses this style on two other tracks on this album, “Systemic ***” and to a lesser extent “Two Less Jacks”. I find these tracks to the weakest on the album and do little but add variety to it. I would venture as far as saying these tracks even come off as annoying.
I feel that one of the major themes Typical System wished to create with Typical System was chaos. The album leaves the listener with no idea what to expect from the next song. The entire album is extremely varied, even containing an instrumental track, “The Ferryman”, which has a catchy bass rift, drumming and is drenched in synth. In this they succeeded, but the album could have been superior had they focused their energy on creating more songs in the vain of “Glass” as opposed to the style of “Expensive Dog” and “Systemic ***”.
Total Control has created an entrancing experience that could have greatly benefited by playing on their calm strengths and scrapping their noisy creations.