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CD Review - Diorama - Cubed

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Genre: Electronic
Label: Accession Records


A total of about two years has been put into the production and completion of DIOAMA's 7th album, bearing the name 'Cubed'. An interesting concept taking a cube not just for what it's seen by most of us; a geometrical form. It could be a prison, a place to hide, to find shelter from life, or even a vessel you're locking in all your dirty little secrets, never meant to see the light of day. On the album cover it takes on the form of an abstract cage. What's being held captive in there or presented is entirely up to the listener's hopefully vivid imagination.

The start is made by a slightly altered version of 'Child of Entertainment', meaning there's a new intro of a sublime aesthetic with an alienated piano added, before the well-known synths fade in. Now we're directly heading over to the next song which already has passed the live acid test. A strange choice of words, considering the track's title is 'Acid Trip'. It's introduced with a chopped far-east chant and while it's still going on, the hard beats and low-key gloomy atmospheres make perfectly clear this won't become an easy listening trip, soon unfolding even more power with the harsh guitars of Sash Fiddler. The mood turns one more time to form the soil for Torben to expose the strange things going on inside somebody's head and the strange ideas resulting of it, and without restrain he asks "Are you stuck on the acid trip, baby?". It's just like asking "What the hell is wrong with you?" after someone committed betrayal on you and just think they can come back and act like nothing's ever happened.

'Ignite' is one track that has to become a part of the live set on the upcoming dates. Already as snippet the power it spews is palpable, but in full-length it's penetrating everything with the clubby rhythms and the encouragement "Run unbreaked against the wall / Try to feel the damage done / Take all the guts you have / Rip out the edges of your cube". A call to overcome the self-made barriers, to break out of the established paths and to swim against the stream of rigidity, even if that means to "Take on the fight" you always wanted to avoid. Cold neon lights, in the midst of a sterile room a mortuary slab is standing with a young life ended much too soon lying on it. 'Gone Gone Gone'. And then the autopsy begins: "After opening your head / We see what's been moving you." All the ideas, all the emotions and everything this person has thought about in his short life, where he succeeded and where he failed. The oppressing mood of the words also mirrors in the serene tune, driven by soft organic rhythms and a multitude of intermingling atmospheres, altogether creating that unbearable feeling of loss.

Now I'd like to refer to something I've said already in the introduction. The cube seen not as a geometrical form but for example as the boundaries you've created for your life. "Your long-term strategy." Some people have such a thing. They know exactly how they want their life to be, and occasionally do whatever it takes to make it come true just as imagined. "Frames to protect..." The track itself opens with creating a wide environment at first, where forceful drum beats are soon to appear and go on to form a cohesive mid-tempo structure that subtly interacts with the discreet ambience covering them. The song also works well within a live circuit and has a neat line to interact with the audience "Do you want me in, or do you want me out?" The creaking samples riding on the sequences within the first moments of 'Apocalypse Later' are like screams, electronically mutilated beyond recognition to flow into the driving club beat and disappear eventually.

Lyrically, as I picture it it's a very clear statement  against a group of elite people doing just what they desire no matter the outcome for others. "Bread and games now / Apocalypse Later." As soon as the chorus starts that in the second run triggers images of a giant arena with its majestic atmospheres also reminding of the roman era. Also the chorus is a real declaration of war "I challenge your imperium / In your grandiose arena". The next track that will shake the club floors is 'Record Deal'. The insistence of this rhythm makes it impossible to resist the dancing urge. 'Record Deal' more than many others can call a marked rock appeal its own and Sash has much room to riot here. Oh, and did I mention it forces you to sing a long "Give me a record deal / And I will change the world." 'My Counterfeit' is the first ballad of the album and to throw into the ring some terms it's poignant, enigmatic and overwhelming. Here the band flirts with the Jazz genre. The reversed brushed rhythm and the fantastic piano play dominating the track, just like the pervasive vocals can make you burst into tears.

First heard on a show last September, everyone who heard it said right away there's something different about 'Alpha Animal Complex'. It appears less unwieldy and has a much poppier vibe to it. The trick here is to use such superficial attributes to channel in something more complicated into the brains of the listeners without them noticing it as such. That's what DIORAMA managed here, because if you really listen attentively this song is not at all simple, coming up with a multi-dimensional drum layout and masterfully executed classical melodies. 'Lord of the Lies' as the album's second ballad is distinctly darker than its direct counterpart. It's phasing in beats, growing in power at first and then unfolding a complex build of interlocking structures, accompanied by chilly atmospherics at times blowing through it like wind through the cracks of an old house at night and treated vintage piano. The lyrics express a kind of contempt for a certain person who's talking with its "mouth full of needles".

Someone whose every word is as untrue as the promise of a politician and whose ego is just as big as the Mount Everest. But there's saying for people like that: Pride goes before a fall! 'Stereotype' for many will end the journey through the at times golden cages of life, may they be self-created or not The song puts me very much in my mind of some of the early industrial stuff due to its unpolished, roughened sound like metal pounding on metal. Yet it's not sterile and cold-sounding but inherited by a whipping, stirring flood of emotions. The lucky ones who have grabbed a copy of the deluxe edition of the album now can continue on the second CD. 'Stukkato' opens the disc with a network of organic rhythm notes that reveal no obvious connection to the electronic at first listen, whereas the melodies soaring over it like thick clouds are easily recognizable as such. Together with the timbre of the lyrics they bring dejection and hopelessness.

'Batteries' only starts with a few clicks, soon gaining the couture of a full-grown club anthem that leads us into an unreal world or place. "Come to where oblivion counts you in / Come to where your time's not running out." Especially the last line mentions a long-cherished wish of mankind: Unlimited time! But what for? Too many people just waste the years given to them in idleness, still clinging to dreams they never had the guts to make them actually come true. So what's the use of having an eternity doing that. Piling up even more of that and becoming a walking battery, almost bursting with suppressed discontent that eventually has to discharge. 'The Hunt' was an instant favourite of mine on the second disc, as it has two differing faces. There's the subdued electronic part, where Torben performs vocals in a very low-key way; the other part is rather unbridled, grittier and heavier, and plain and simple kicks ass.

With its rawer industrial sound and a resembling rhythmic make-up 'Jericho Beach' reminds of 'Stereotype' in the beginning but is taking a fairly different direction in terms of the mood it conveys. Deep resentment over the hollow, meaningless farce life sometimes reveals itself as. In those moments you're longing for some kind of shelter, maybe an own little universe. "A place to stay and sometimes be awake." Quite some time ago, 'Shadow Play' just appeared on the band's website with a black and white slideshow video and not just a little crowd found pleasure in that little sonic treasure. I was wondering for a long time if we would ever get to see an official release of that song on CD. Imagine my surprise as I read through the track list of the bonus disc and found it there. Its synth wizardry is a direct reference to the title, playing with shadowy melodies, sometimes forming silhouettes but never really taking a shape or stepping into the spotlights. Then suddenly the beats mutate to an organic form and everything's lighting up - just as if a veil's been lifted.

I know I've put your ability of focusing on a text to a hard test with this review, but this novel results simply from my excitement for this record. The two years of work it took for the band to complete this album were not in vain. DIORAMA are on a peak of diversity on 'Cubed'. So many stylistic devices flowing into one another, but the own signature sound of DIORAMA never gets lost in this kaleidoscope. A true masterpiece that deserves nothing but the best rating. The artwork of the album reflects the conceptual nature in every picture and especially with the deluxe edition of 'Cubed' the fan's getting a lavishly designed box, leaving nothing to be desired.


01. Child of Entertainment - 5:28
02. Acid Trip - 6:06
03. Ignite - 5:35
04. Gone Gone Gone - 4:49
05. Cubed - 5:11
06. Apocalypse later - 5:05
07. Record Deal - 5:02
08. My Counterfeit - 4:08
09. Refugee - 5:52
10. Alpha Animal Complex - 5:43
11. Golden Boy - 4:34
12. Lord of the Lies - 5:02
13. Stereotype - 5:16

CD2 (Shadow Play) [Deluxe Edition Only]
01. Stukkato - 4:09
02. Batteries - 4:55
03. The Hunt - 5:41
04. Jericho Beach - 5:14
05. Shadow Play - 4:28

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