Review Summary: "Effector" is an upbeat, fun, creatively crafted electronic album featuring an arsenal of unique songs designed to get ones ears tingling with delight.
Download’s music has always been on the industrial/experimental side. Earlier works of Download such as “Furnace”, “Charlie’s Family”, and “The Eyes of Stanley Pain” are great examples of this. It’s no wonder considering the primary contributor of Download is none other than cEvin Key, one of the founding members of Skinny Puppy. On “Effector”, cEvin joins up with Phil Western (PlatEAU) and takes a step back from the industrial genre and gives us a glimpse into one of the most creative, sonically textured electronic albums of 2000.
The cover art for “Effector” is reminiscent of a hallucinatory night at the carnival. Although it’s not one of the most thought provoking pieces of cover art we have seen, it definitely sets the tone for what the listener is about to experience. With its wispy, fast flowing light and contrasting color scheme it has a cool, yet fun upbeat feel and is a great representation of the overall quality of this album.
Someone new to “Effector” is going to immediately notice that there is no singing or lyrics. Even though the album is void of lyrics, that doesn’t hinder the artistic vision of both Key and Western. Throughout the album there is the occasional vocal sample that has been heavily manipulated using various mixing techniques. I feel that it adds a needed human touch to an album that is dominated by digital instrumentation. “Effector” is also the most melodic, accessible album in Download’s catalog. At times you almost want to dance, which I don’t think can be said for any other of the band’s other material.
The album starts off with Carrier Tone, which is an excellent choice for the albums opening track. I can’t remember listening to a song that had such a complicated combination of sounds and percussive mixing. This track truly demonstrates the creative force that Key and Western are combined. With samples that sound like the ripping of space and eerie pads, it will leave you wanting more. Fortunately for us, this is the beginning of the album.
Progressing through, we come to Ego Dissolve. This one has a bit of a tribal feel to the drums. The song is also characterized by what sounds to me like a barking metallic dog voice. About three quarters of the way through, we have a nice break with a light electric piano riff that is refreshing amongst the rest of the song’s thick beat.
Chrysanthemum seems to me to be the “peak” of the album. Introducing the song is a vocal sample that says, “Classic after work jams…..” and indeed it is. This is the kind of song that you want to put on after having a stressful day at work, the kind of song that reminds you that driving home can be fun. The drums and bass start off steady, then as the song progresses, the layering of synthesizers and sound effects add atmosphere. It has an infectious funky groove that I never grow tired of listening to.
Following Chrysanthemum is the song Ayahuasca. The title for this track comes from the name of a South American vine found in a hallucinogenic beverage that the Amazonian shamans have been using for years to help aid them in the healing of the diseases and social problems of their respective villages. Ayahuasca, the song, is an ambient tune that helps to lift the listener into a beautifully crafted soundscape leaving them to have visions of their own.
Even in retrospect to the albums overall upbeat feel, Two Worlds Collide has a dark side. About half way through you are confronted with samples of an insane woman chanting, “I’ll kill you….I’ll kill you….”, but then again, this is an album co-written by Key and would not be the same without it. After the ensuing death threats, the song breaks and has a great saw wave lead line that gets the song to come alive, another one of my favorite tracks.
Originally, I had rated this album a 5, but when I began to write the review I realized that even though all the songs are great to listen to on their own, they all have the same structure and basic use of instrumentation. Because of this small bit of criticism, I had to drop my rating to a 4.5. I choose not to write about every song in the review because I wanted to leave a bit of mystery for someone interested in checking out this sonic tapestry of synthesizers, bass and drums. If you’re looking for an album that is unique, artistic, electronic, and pumping, I suggest purchasing “Effector” for your collection. Your money won’t be wasted!