[CD, Spectraliquid/33 Recordings]
Although John Valasis has worked for several years as a producer and mixing engineer for a number of artists Immaterial Monarch sees the debut of his own material under the Poordream moniker. The album is a collection of two original tracks inspired by the Zeitgeist movie series along with a further eight remixes of the title track by an array of artists including one from Valasis himself. Each artist brings their own interpretation, each putting their own spin on the theme that results in a very varied range of takes on the original.
The title track is an intriguing mix of cinematic experimental electronics themed around the future disintegration of society and the fight back of the common man to restore order and morality. Smooth rhythms, crisp melodies and ethereal harmonised vox combine to create an edgy soundtrack quality that, with the help of suitably impassioned spoken samples, tell the story of man’s ability to rise above adversity even when the odds seem to be stacked against him. Valasis’ own “grandma version” of the track uses only excerpts of the powerful movie samples that make such a strong statement in the original and instead focuses on the electronic aspects, giving it an adrenaline fuelled overhaul charged with optimistic energy. Where the original version tells the story of dark desperation with a call to arms, Valasis’ “grandma version” is a drive for change.
Changing things completely is the Broken Tempo remix which adds a female vocal initially based on the words of the sample with funky guitar that unexpectedly turns “Immaterial Monarch” on its head and transforms it into a completely different pop/rock track. Closer to the original is the Nadsat remix which focuses largely on the ethereal ambient aspects of the track, drawing them out with a jabbing break, the samples toned down under swathes of texture and the catchy piano motif still intact. Mahos Paterakis offers an upbeat mix with an injection of heavy bass and the crisp metallic beats of euphoric dance. The Dama remix turns up the energy level with a scatter gun drum ‘n’ bass rework that also opts to retain the distinctive piano theme found in several of the remixes. Tape86 again opts for a minimal approach by producing a faithful reproduction emphasising the electronic aspects, the piano element and some of the ambient drone-like textures of the track. Closing the album is another Valasis original, “Sounds of Consciousness”, which is based around a spoken monologue over the sounds of war and destruction followed by a strange and slightly misplaced vocoder vocal closing with Eastern field recordings.
“Immaterial Monarch” is full of imagery and emotion that tells the story of a future that is initially dark and desperate but moves into optimism and determination for a brighter future. Although there is little original material to base judgement on here, it will be interesting to hear a full-length album from Valasis in the future to see whether “Immaterial Monarch” translates into an equally visual experience in long-form.
Published by IglooMag [September 5th 2009]