Review Summary: Breathing rust.
It's often with shaky hands the pool of sweat caused by a smattering of nostalgic intricacies is formed on our chairs, mouse mats, and keyboards. The spine-tingling sensation caused by positive deja vu almost never fails to initiate when the first metallic synth makes a jarringly jittery entrance. 22nd-century Tokyo is rife with torment and crippling manipulation, and Perturbator captures this olden look into the future with grimy precision. Even so, the persistent darkness isn't blinding enough to hide all of The Uncanny Valley
's missteps. Though the murk does conceal most of them, and the divide between right and wrong becomes fittingly slim.
It is an emphatically stormy start for The Uncanny Valley
. "Neo Tokyo" furiously launches forward after a brief, mechanical build up. Undoubtedly the heaviest opener on a Perturbator album, "Neo Tokyo" layers synth upon synth with a constant driving motion. Unfortunately, the intensity and direction of this track are largely lost for the rest of The Uncanny Valley
's first half. Proceeding tracks, while still retaining the moodier edge set in "Neo Tokyo", suffer from a lack of variation and intriguing ideas. "Femme Fatale" breaks up the overplayed thumping with gorgeous, rising flow, but is followed up by the weakest song on the record. Even though looming tenebrosity isn't completely abandoned here, "Venger" sounds somewhat out of place on a record so attached to it's sense of brooding identity.
The auditory story-telling during the second half is almost vampiric in nature. This is Neo Tokyo. A diverse, sprawling congregation of the deluded, and the calculating. Acceptance of slippery ideals in distorted, underground governments, and the fight with and against the machine, is all colored in black and white. It is simple, yet extravagant. Perturbator shrewdly highlights the injustice of a world unknown, and it is absolutely beautiful in its twisted nature. A three-part serving of war is thrust upon us in "Diabolus Ex Machina" and the two proceeding tracks through abrasive drum machines and violent atmosphere. Crushing production seamlessly ties together abstract synths and bouncing melodies while distorted basses buzz with ecstasy. Every track draws energy from the last with little remorse. Yet the peak of this metropolitan mountain only chimes in at the eleventh hour.
Perturbator is a well-oiled machine by this point in time. Every release coyly whispers nostalgia in a confidently unapologetic fashion. However, The Uncanny Valley
treads upon deeper waters than anything before it, and closes with two reminders of the elliptical corruption masterfully displayed by the album's second half. The constant drive is replaced with quiet; immersion and reflection become central. Though blatant in some (if not all) of its metaphors, the pristine execution of this record is brilliantly slick. However, unsteady, unimaginative beginnings prove that even the most tediously engineered android is susceptible to breathing rust. A press of a button, a roar of an engine, and the beast comes to life. It is monstrous and majestic enough for its sins to be almost forgotten. But only almost.