Soulware – Return To The Source (Optimus Gryme/Border) CD REVIEW

THE ONLY THING worse than a 21st century hippy is a pretentious 21st century hippy. I’m sure this Christchurch co-op has poured their love into this dire project, but the public needs warning.
Return To The Source takes the very worst aspects of a lot of dubious, uh, sources, tries to bind them together, and the result is an abject failure, a Category A disaster of truly stupendous proportions.
The press release: “Soulware… combine elements of dubstep, drum & bass, dub electronica, trip hop, blues and rock that will submerge the listener into a depth of sonic soundscape and rhythm that will move your body and soul. This album is a timeless collection of the bands (sic) evolution…”
The reality: Return To The Source slows their electronic beats down to a snail’s pace, over which a female singer wails like she wants desperately to be Lisa Gerard, and “meaningful” synth blankets the playing field, just like it wants to be Dead Can Dance. Some of the electronic rhythms resemble dumb and bass or dubstep or minimal techno ala Pitch Black, but they chug along so slowly that all the energy is drained, along with any potential momentum. And it’s all so serious. There’s no light, no levity, just the imposed sense that here we have something really righteous, really important.
One good thing: it sounds good. There’s no sign of compression, so the bass rattles the window frames in my old hovel, and the sound design is nicely spatial.
But even hi-fi fans listen to music for music first, hopefully, and these would-be “epic” pieces (one goes on for a nonsensical 17-minutes!) just don’t cut the mustard, on any level. Even the synth lines and the wailing and the echoed hints of “real” instruments sound disconnected (and detuned) from the beats.
Sadly, it’s an example of a project that should never have got out of the gate. GARY STEEL
Music = 1
Sound = 4

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