Article by KevW
Bleak, desolate, cold and industrial. Warm, welcoming, fuzzy and shimmering. The latest album from Greek experimentalists Mechanimal is something of a paradox. Their previous albums, 'Mechanimal' and 'Obscure', have been described as "dystopian", as they explored their city in crises, and 'ΔΠΔ' (pronounced "Delta Pi Delta") is an attempt to delve into the forests that surround Athens, focusing on nature to escape the urban depression. It's clear from the stark and minimal beats of opening track 'Sunlight' that the vibe here is still very much dystopian. The lyrics may talk of rising again and eternal sun rays, but it's very nocturnal sounding and almost feels like an update of some of the innovative artists that grew out of the former Eastern Bloc in the 1970s.
The robotic nature of sections of 'ΔΠΔ' doesn't mean it's devoid of feeling though, and the vocals do carry some passion. The slow intro to 'Repetition' twinkles with mystery and you can feel those rays of light starting to peep through. 'ΔΠΔ' flits between moods for its duration, and often within the same song - even at the same time on occasion. 'Thistlemilk' is a more upbeat electro-pop number that brightens the tone, although it could hardly be described as summery, and it's immediately followed by the mechanical vibes of 'Sawdust' which is filled with futuristic, automated beats and layers of scree that belong in the twilight zone. Single 'Radio On' is one of those where the contrasts are glued together so that the high tempo and rich textures are backed by colder bleeps, bloops and squalls of noise. 'Winter Mute' achieves a similar effect, mining '80s synth-pop for inspiration.
As a whole, 'ΔΠΔ' is a very modern sounding album, yet it gives the occasional nod to the forerunners of the sounds it contains. The strange, almost chanted 'Sextant' borrows heavily from Kraftwerk for its introduction, but very soon becomes a different beast when the vocal and extra instrumentation is introduced. 'Ferrum' is swirling nightmare of noise that gives a sense of panic and urgency. True to its name, 'Illuminations' is another occasion where the tone becomes lighter musically, but this time the lyrics and vocals bring the darkness so the contrast of light and shade remains. Mechanimal end this journey though their mysterious world with the more organic 'Search The Woods' which brings in guitars and traditional drums for more of an electro-rock track that has a dreampop side to it when it breaks for the verses, becoming the most warm and human song on the whole of 'ΔΠΔ'. This is an album that's occasionally unsettling, but ultimately rewarding and a collection that you can easily get lost in.
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