Album Review: IAMX – Unfall

At the heart of all revolutions is a seed of madness, a frustrated intelligence that cries for transformation. In a time when electronic music was just entering the mainstream, Chris Corner was that chaotic force that catapulted Sneaker Pimps into indelible stardom. He was the mystery ingredient in Becoming X, his influence a catalyst for a new school of daring musical experimentation for the band.

But it didn’t end there. Before Chris could proclaim IAMX, he had to come to terms with the darkest side of his genius, the fear, hatred and self-abuse that have marked his lifelong journey. The result of his soul-searching is one of the most unique musical catalogues in UK electronica history. As eclectic as IAMX albums have been, they share one common characteristic: passion. The artist bears his soul with every title and every lyric is a fearless confessional exposition. Chris Corner’s voice is absolutely unique and his style a multi-genre chimerical delight.

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This new album is yet another deliriously successful experiment. Unfall is a purely instrumental production. Filled with obscure sighs and whispers, the album is governed by distorted, clipped samples and a stochastic structure that give it a raw, underground IDM white-label feel.

TickTickTick and Little Deaths are prime examples of what I can only describe as sexy minimalism. The sound design is so subtly intricate that reaching the pinnacle of each song feels like nuzzling through layers of delicate petticoats. There is an obscure sultriness in Running Point and Mirtazapine, the sensation akin to watching a strip tease through a fogged window. Polar I. takes an atmospheric approach, filling the aural space with ambient whimsical sequences, and dissipating like as a furtive dream. The arpeggios in Cat’s Cradle and the cold bells in 11 11.11 are the soundtrack to a twisted bazaar, a haunted circus performance. Trust the Machine hits harder with a mechanical staccato reminiscent of a Wax Trax glitch techno product.

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This new album is eerie and familiar at once. Chris Corner is simply genial: he distills the finest flavours of underground electronica into a musical elixir that is so potent it’s instantly addictive. Unfall is unlike any of his previous releases and yet still so recognizable IAMX in its fearless countenance. We are lucky to count this artist among our contemporaries, and seeing his creative faculties unshackled from commercial expectations is pure ecstasy.

 

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