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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Ex_tension - "Freedom"

Artist: Ex_tension
Album: Freedom
Year: 2011
Label: Signifier
Genre: Technoid, Industrial
Website:  http://ex.tension.free.fr/
this release on discogs: here



Freedom is the latest offering from Ex_tension, and it comes to us on a brand new US-based label, Signifier. From the looks of things, it appears that Signifier is trying to follow in the footsteps of Ant Zen (definitely not a bad thing), as the album art is very Salt-esque, and the music seems to be just the sort of hybrid technoid that one would expect from a label like Ant Zen / Hymen. This album was apparently originally released in 2006 and has been re-mastered for its first official release.

Good stuff:
+ Cool synths. Ex_tension seem to be fans of using layers of constantly modulating synthlines, such as you might hear in VAC or the psybient genre (Aes Dana, Solar Fields, Bluetech, etc). Some of the synths have a cool middle-eastern tinge to them. For some reason (I guess the repetitive driving beats) this will inevitably get the “tribal” tag, though it really is not; however, I would say it’s definitely got a major psy influence.
+ Most of the album feels like your standard Ant Zen fair: driving, repetitive, moderately complex tracks that work well on the dance floor. The majority of Freedom is pretty clean, but occasionally they use some distorted beats which immediately take it into “I bet you can’t tell its not ant zen” territory. It's also not TBM.
+ Solid production. The synths have a pretty good, thick sound, and the percussion really kicks.
+ The zNo remix really transforms the title track into something completely different, and much more atmospheric, crunchy and industrial.

Bad stuff:
- This album is a little too repetitive to me - all the tracks use very similar sounds and go for the same driving, dance-y sound. The press release states this was originally released in 06 and in some ways it shows. The production/re-mastering is good enough, but the songs are kind of simplistic and lack the maturity typically present in a band’s third or fourth release (according to discogs, they have been releasing since 05 or so). I’m not familiar with Ex_tension, but I bet if you listen to some of their tracks from 09 or 2010 they sound more advanced/developed than this.
- The 3+ minute intro to Lust (extended) is totally unnecessary and boring. I listen to music at low volumes at work and it sounds like a 3 minute gap of silence, which is great for the flow on an album.

A pretty good offering from Ex_tension, and a good beginning for the Signifier label. If you are looking for something that combines the atmosphere and synth work of psybient with the driving, gritty, technoid sound of ant zen than you will want to pick this up. Fans of said styles will definitely find something to enjoy here, though I doubt it’s going to be anyone’s favorite album.

Overall Rating:

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