:Music Review: XP8 – Alchemy Series
XP8 – Alchemy Series
One of Three: Nigredo – Released June 6, 2014
Two of Three: Albedo – Released October 31, 2014
Three of Three: Rubedo – Released February 2, 2015
Label: 2393 Records
Official Websites: http://www.xp8.org/ and http://officialxp8.bandcamp.com/
Review by Shibari Reiss
When I interviewed Marco Visconti for The Oontzcast last summer, I timidly approached the subject of a rumor that I had heard: “Is XP8 calling it quits this year?”
He took kind of a deep breath and confirmed that this would be it for the band. He said that they were going to release a trilogy called the Alchemy Series and then there would be no more.
I found it quite fitting that the first of three releases was Nigredo—meaning “The Blackness.” In alchemy this means putrefaction or decomposition. I felt hollow inside when the first of the three EPs had been released. Nigredo meant the death of XP8 to me.
Pressing play there is nothing “sad” about the songs. They are hard hitting and in your face with the bass. Starting with “Dolly Was a Raver;” it is danceable and fun. The lyrics “Dolly was a raver, she said she had no shame,” set the tone for Nigredo.
“Engage the Bass” pushes it all the way. Pulsating and stompy, it also engages hard trance sounds.
Nigredo has both classic EBM and trance, but also a mixture of modern EDM. It is an evolved work, and you can certainly tell the growth of XP8 in this endeavor; while mature it also is fun.
“Primitive” is completely sexy; you can feel the temperature rise with this track. While melodically intriguing it never loses tempo, engaging the listener and daring you to keep your feet still.
As “Troll Control” began, I had to look and see what I was listening to. Was this hard techno? The sound said yes, my player said XP8. I will admit, I had to go back and listen again as I wasn’t prepared for this track. It definitely has a thick bassline and yes…a hard techno sound.
“Information (Phaezek 4 Remix)” is what I would call a club hit. It has all the elements of what club goers ask to dance to. With a beat that entices you to move to it and solid vocals, this is most likely the “go to track” for DJs. I have seen other reviewers say it is the “best” track on the release. I am going to tell you that yes, it is very good. But I honestly would not say ONE song outshines another.
Nigredo is surprising and exciting; there is not one bad track on this five track EP. Both for club and personal listening, this is definitely a win that could only be brought to you with finesse by XP8.
The second in the series, Albedo, was released on October 31st of 2014. It seemed very fitting that it was released on Halloween. Albedo is the second phase of the alchemical process and is about purification; it follows the chaos of Nigredo.
Pulling from various genres, XP8 brings a magical blend of EBM, dubstep, trance, and EDM to create hard hitting bass lines, incredible synths, and poignant lyrics.
From the beginning beats of “We Felt Nothing,” your feet are compelled to move to the beat while you sing along to catchy lyrics.
As it moves into “The Gift,” with the lyrics “I shed my skin,” I found myself contemplating my conversation with Marco during our interview. I wondered if perhaps this trilogy was about the evolution and metamorphosis of XP8.
When “Heatwave” pulsed into my earphones, I found myself completely smitten with this song; guitar, bass, synth and that lyric of hungering, “I want.” “Greater Goal” begins with a sensual beat and moves into some serious guitar driven Industrial.
While I am listening to the final track, “Inside Their Heads (Avarice In Audio Remix),” it is very “wubby” dubstep with a decent drop and excellent synth. I consider that this is almost the last album for XP8 and how different this series is from their other releases.
While Albedo in the alchemical process “washes away the impurities,” the subject is divided into two opposing principles, later coagulated to form a unity of opposites in Rubedo, the final stage. Rubedo also being the final release of a band which has been such a force in the Industrial scene for many years.
I found my heart heavy, not wanting to press play, because pressing play gives in to the end… doesn’t it? I press play only to find “Dancing, Dying, Dreaming” with its Trance influence and booty shaking beat; it seems to really proclaim that this is the final EP.
I let that sink in for a moment. While the release of Rubedo marks an end to XP8, it is not like the breakup of The Beatles; and while there are many in the scene who are unceremoniously celebrating the end of XP8, citing that Marco Visconti has been breathing bitterness and negativity into the scene and alienating the fans that have stood behind XP8 from the beginning, I find myself sad.
I can’t imagine Marco and Marko not making music anymore. What happens to musicians when they no longer…create music?
In reality the Alchemy Series, has shown growth and maturity, and in my opinion is the best work that the duo has released. It is everything you look for in an EP; full of deep, danceable beats.
As I am thinking this, “XP8 Is Dead” is blaring through my earbuds. The music on this track is undeniably hard hitting with talking vocals that seem to drive home that XP8 is in fact dead.
“Egotism” has some distorted vocals and seems to exude an angry rough tone, and just as I wonder if they are going to end the EP on an angrier harsher sound, “Rust” picks up with a sexy, edgy sound and low, spoken vocals. Probably the “slowest” sounding song on the EP, but honestly a phenomenal track.
The lyrics to “Your Love” seem to sum up the demise of XP8: “In the beginning was the end, in the end was my beginning.”
And so it ends.
We bid you adieu XP8 and we wish you well in your new beginning.
- Dolly Was A Raver
- Engage The Bass
- Troll Control
- Information (Phaezek 4 Remix)
- We Felt Nothing
- The Gift
- A Greater Goal
- Inside Their Heads (Avarice In Audio Remix)
- Dancing, Dying, Dreaming
- XP8 Is Dead
- Your Love