Active I – Earth is Dead, but We’re Alive
Opening with ‘Common Man’, the record sets things off with a dark and brooding tone.
The beats are glitchy, with heavy bass drops that create a huge backdrop for the almost choral vocalisations, while the hip hop stylings are drizzled over the track’s canvas. There’s a great breakdown with some fun video game bleeps that are engaging and creative. ‘Lytebryte’ holds on to the moody vibe, this time making good use of chiming tones that create a true darkness. Active I’s sound continues to pervade the production, with its 8 bit influences and broad range of vocal styles – the female parts are particularly strong and add a real contrast and texture to the music. ‘All Gone’ wades in with drum loops that are almost falling apart at the seams with distortion. The lyrics are full of references that decry capitalism with their ‘Big Macs’ and ‘bullshit’. As a track, there is a laid back reggae vibe that is deceptively relaxed – this is a track with a message that wants to get through to the listener. Earth is Dead, but We’re Alive moves on to ‘Nothing Implied’, with its crazy introduction phone message with someone calling about opening a ‘Christian strip club’ but not having a number to return the call. The track is stripped back with its cutting snare and deep bass, allowing the vocals to sit clearly atop the rest of the music’s mix. ‘Provision’ throws in some rock and roll in the shape of a chunky guitar riff that leads into an auto tuned vocal. As the track progresses it builds and builds with its layers of tone, blending instrumentation and vocals effortlessly. ‘Fly Together’ heads in a more gentle direction, with an Eastern feel that gradually introduces throbbing, evolving synths and snappy drum beats that pulse through the track. As the bass moves in to place, once again the track begins to take on a life of its own, moving in a different direction which holding on to the original tones that underpin it all. ‘Brawndo Bandits’ opens with a fun skit that is a great first listen but might wear thin on repeated listens. The track itself takes a while to really take off, but when it does thinks really start to fizz and fuss, with scratchy throbbing bass and sassy vocals. ‘The Music’ is a true dance floor number, sparse and trippy, pulling the listener in to chase for more, while ‘Against The Brain Pt IV’ sees the lead female vocal step up to the place with confidence, demanding respect and attention. ‘Neu Breed’ pushes more of the trademark brooding darkness, rocking back on two chords that screech and grumble in the background, while the hip hip flow pours forth relentlessly. Earth is Dead, but We’re Alive concludes with ‘Rubber Rooms’, with its gentle piano intro that is something of a surprise but an entirely pleasant listen, sounding like something Air would do if they went in a more urban direction. The rich vocoder vocal flitters over the piano until the album finally comes to its end, leaving us with a glitchy electronic residue.