Stabilizer – A Project Called Red: Strange mix of IDM and NES

Stabilizer - A Project Called RedRecently, I had a chance to listen to a disc called “A Project Called Red” recently released on Nonexistant Recordings by Stabilizer. A mix of what I guess you would call IDM, speed-something, and/or electronic rock, it’s quite different from the music I’m used to listening to. Rather than the usual melodic, acoustic guitar that I’ve become accustomed to turning on whenever I get a chance, much of it is quite aggressive, with syncopated rhythms, and synths coming at you from every which way.

Start at the bottom and work our way up

I would love to say “Oh God, I’m putting this on my Zune right now” or “This music is obviously sent to us from God himself”, but I’m really stuck wondering if maybe I just don’t “get it.” Yes, there seems to be melodies (or at least attempts at melodies), but they are interspersed with odd choices of random pads and beats that I personally don’t dig.

This isn’t to say that someone out there in Internetland won’t appreciate it; hell, the web has unfortunately taught me that there will always be someone out there in the far reaches of cyberspace that will love you for anything you do, whether it be transcribing the bible into Klingon or making macaroni with your feet. The whole 8-bit-meets-modern thing just never (pardon the pun) struck a chord with me.

Now, I’m not going to rag on the album the whole time; in fact, there are quite a few facets of it that are quite good, it’s just that the two members of the internet-based group (yes, the group is comprised of two complete strangers that collaborate online) didn’t seem to combine the elements in the right order.

The good side of bad; the upside of down

The vocals are rather good. In fact, I’d go as far as to say they are near-epic. Pristinely recorded, they stand out from the very obviously computer generated rhythm/percussion. Not only do they sound much more professional, they also seem much more polished. If you could get past the dichotomy of unprofessional vs. professional components of their sound, the lyrics would be very easily to sing along to when you’re driving to work (or whatever one would be doing while listening to this kind of music).

Next up: the melodies. When they’re actually present, the melodies on most of the songs are easily hummable as well, which as you no doubt have guessed, is something I look for in music I listen to. I like being able to be sitting at my desk and recount the emotions I experienced while listening to a particular track by humming it out loud, and given enough time, I could definitely see myself doing it with this album. The intricate percussion work, while unfortunately computer generated rather than recorded live, would pose a problem, but I’ve been known to even hum happy hardcore (that was back in the day, so back off) so I’m sure I could figure this out.

All in all, I’m disappointed that I couldn’t enjoy “A Project Called Red” more. I am by no means trying to discourage anyone to pick it up, as it very well may be their Dark Side of the Moon; it’s just not my cup of tea. There was a lot of work put into this release and it shows, but for that work to be appreciated, the listener has to be able to at least subconsciously relate to the sounds emanating from their speakers and I just wasn’t able to do that. Regardless, if you are able to appreciate 8-bit music, experimental rock, or just want something different, I’d recommend picking it up and checking it out.

Because honestly, what do I know?

Artist’s Website | Purchase Album

Off topic commentary: To all the musicians out there who think making music with an original Nintendo-sounding synthesizer, can you please quit it? It didn’t sound cool almost 20 years ago when it was a part of the actual system; now it just sounds like you’re trying to be gimmicky except that it’s been done a million times over.

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