Review Summary: Slowly turning inside out.
Not a lot of people still remember, but original prototypes of synthpop and post-punk go a long way together, the former being moderately closely related to the latter. Subgenres of post-punk like darkwave, coldwave and other waves bear close resemblance to the genre of synthpop, aesthetical and in their preferred instruments and production methods. So when an album like Sex Park’s Atrium
comes out, the genre ambiguity is penetrable.
in not just a simple soulless revival act’s pre-death attempt at parasitising on styles from a bygone epoch. The band actually puts a surprising amount of effort and care into meticulously crafting their tunes and the tunes’ progressions. May the song “Rhyme or Reason” be an example with its subtly beautiful and increasingly haunting melody. The background synths are popping up gently and leading the otherwise skeletal and musically crude song into a surprising melodic euphoria.
That technique of growing the background’s volume over the basic instrumentation is implied on almost every track and each time it is, the song turns more soulful and personal, even if the lyrics are relatively unintelligible, due to the drowned out production. That often awkwardly mixed or sung vocal side of things actually might be the album’s greatest flaw. Although it is clear that the band is doing its best to recreate the feeling of post-punk within the predominantly electronic album that way.
However, whatever the initial intentions of the album, approximately half way through it changes to a straightforward electronica with maybe a hint of goth influences. It becomes apparent since the fourth track “Olympic Cause”, which features still the same background enhancing tune technique, but instrumentally focuses more on beats and some sort of danceable vibe. And while the following title track is more of the old school darkwave, pretty much anything that follows deepens that full-on electro-atmosphere even more; “Monogamy” with glitch-synth induced effect on guitars, all round esoteric “Blaschko” or the album’s closer and the final stage of this transformation, “Way Down”.
Although the central dark and disjointed tone doesn’t change and the song-writing is still that subtle simplicity reliant on foreground’s chaotic dissonance, the album certainly does derail into a rather obscure direction. Whatever the intent behind it, it leaves the once promising homage to the old days of underground synthwave for an oddity. Strange predicament, but not without its own merit.