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Friday, April 8, 2011

Egyptrixx - Bible Eyes: B+

Bible Eyes is an album that’s slow to start. Not that the proper debut from this Toronto dubstep artist doesn’t immediately establish the guy’s lurching style within the album’s first track, but the first couple songs of Bible Eyes do not leave particularly strong first impressions. Bible Eyes is one of the few albums that I can say radically improves as it progresses.

“Start From the Beginning” and the title track establish Egyptrixx’s style, but exhibit them in a way that exposes their flaws. “Start From the Beginning,” while bolstered from interesting-sounding cymbals and a booming bass, becomes old very quickly, as Egyptrixx (real name: David Patsutka) finds solace in repetition and provides it with very little variation, making the track feel a lot longer than three minutes. “Bible Eyes” is more promising, beginning with a traditional dancefloor-ready thump, but what makes it unique is what also brings it down in quality. Within a minute, a dissonant synth line fades in and increases in volume to a blare as it progresses. Unfortunately, from that point on, the song is almost all repetition, Egyptrixx sticking to that line that starts out intriguing, but ends up downright annoying. At six minutes, it’s a hulking mass of discord, and it could very well justify taking oneself out of the album, entirely.

But it’s surprising how well Egyptrixx recovers from this point on. “Chrysalis Records” deservedly flaunts its presence of verses and choruses that have proven difficult with other electronic artists. While not necessarily a must in those terms, a competent dabbling into song writing can be an indication of the versatility of the musician. “Chrysalis” mixes the traditional modes of pop with the less flexible dubstep well while incorporating a singing voice, creating a product reminiscent of the songs with vocals on Guido’s dubstep debut, Anidea. It is clear at this point that Egyptrixx possesses a unique bag of tricks, but needs a little more practice arranging them into a palatable product.

And from there, the record only gets better. Egyptrixx incorporates his distinct cacophonous synths on “Naples,” but softens them with reverb so that they are less grating and are more appropriate for the rest of the song’s more danceable context. “Rook’s Theme” and “Recital (A Version)” are bona fide ragers, the former led by a warped pan flute melody and the latter a waifish vocalist away from being the best song School of Seven Bells never wrote. While both utilize repetition (“Recital (A Version)” is over seven minutes long), they’re both based around damn good foundations, reaching a pleasant equilibrium in which the beat could go on forever and party people would never mind it.

The second half of Bible Eyes leans towards the ruminative. “Fugi Club” and “Recital (B Version)” both feature off-kilter vocals (I keep imagining the voice in the former being Peter Lorre’s Joel Cairo in The Maltese Falcon) and “Liberation Front” and “Barely” explore more of Egytrixx’s disjointed melodies, but never so far off as to become deleterious, as in the case of the title track. Yes, it would appear that, as “Liberation Front” fades out after seven minutes of never getting boring to conclude Bible Eyes, Egyptrixx has more than made up for the buffoonery he observed in those first couple tracks.

The closest contemporary Egyptrixx has is probably the London dubstep duo, Mount Kimbie. However, while both do have a penchant for oblique samples (To go back to “Liberation Front,” much of its track time is spent revolving around what sounds like someone chopping and screwing an IED explosion), Bible Eyes is not merely dorm room funk, but an album that could actually make some people lose their shit on a dancefloor. While, again, that’s not exclusively criterion for good electronic music, do you think I’m not going to count that aspect of Bible Eyes in Egyptrixx’s favor? I’d be lying if I said I didn't.


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