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Carbon Based

» Straight Out Of Finland EP

Reviewed by Pearsall / Submitted 21-01-04 18:39

Label: Electronic
Format: 2 x 12" Vinyl
Genre: Freeform Hardcore

After waiting for this for months and months with a feverish anticipation that slightly worries me, this four-track ep from the dark lords of Finnish hard dance has arrived. Lahti maestros Carbon Based have finally dropped this magnum opus of madness on Richard Andrews' (aka Shanty/The Mexican) Electronic label. Four slices of the most finely crafted twisted synths and hammering kicks. It makes me swoon just thinking about it.

Side A: Ultimate Protection - 170 bpm

Ominous pads open, with the entirely appropriate vocal sample from Aliens "check it out, I am the ultimate badass, state of the badass art, me and my squad of ultimate badasses will protect do not want to f*ck with me" laying out the Carbon Based manifesto. Then the nasty offbeat bass starts pulsing, the crashing kick comes in, and away we go. Quickly their trademark twisted synths come twirling through the mix, spiralling out of control and dropping you into the breakdown, where the sample reappears and a new, even deadlier synth riff winds its way into your consciousness. Then the beat fires in again and, well...the effect is a bit like if you could channel lightning through a speaker cone. The coolest thing about their tracks is the way they are composed of so many different layers, like psy-trance but with all the acid-head noodling replaced by a no-nonsense punk attitude, where every sound exists only to push the experience further. Top stuff.

Side B: Cyclone - 180 bpm

The kick-drummed intro is quickly joined by a bouncy little riff before the wildly pulsing bass drops in. Soon, those trademark twisted synths push through, flitting like shadows all over the rock-solid rhythmic framework. Diving into the breakdown, from the depths of quiet comes a simple, fragile melody that builds and builds to an almost ludicrously majestic point. In common with all the best trance melodies there's a melancholic edge to it that stops it from being too saccharine, too gushy. A squirming acid line rises to meet it, then the melody disappears, the beat kicks in, and the tune fires away again with the classic, never-disappointing combination of manic acid and offbeat-basslined madness. Slowly, tentatively, the main melody swoops back in, fragile at first but then building and building to the point where it feels like your spine will rip out of your back from the sheer rush. The standout track for me and my favourite tune of the last year. Fucking brilliant. Of course, having described it in such terms there will undoubtedly be plenty of people going "I think it's crap!" Well, I don't're wrong.

Side C: Reactivated - 170 bpm

The weakest track of the four. I still think it's pretty good, but it's not a patch on the others. Sharp percussion and a little plinky-plonky melody introduce this track, before a radioactive bassline drops. Some driving synth work leads into the break, where a sample from some old sci-fi movie introduces the main riff, a flashing power synth. The drop comes and, to be honest, I was a little disappointed. I have an old version of this tune that they had up for download on two years ago and I thought it worked a bit better. The new bassline and the main riff don't seem to gel as well as in the old version. An ok track.

Side D: Fatal Flashback - 170 bpm

A deconstructed breakbeat and a rock-hard kick intro this one, kickly joined by a heavy, heavy on-beat bassline. Those synths start up again, flashing over the rhythm like an alien spaceship scouring the earth for survivors. The dark mood is emphasized by a shimmering little riff that floats over the top, like a cyborg plucking at a metallic harp. In the break the little riff disappears to be replaced by this cold rush of a riff, the sonic equivalent of splashing your face with ice water. A dark majesty of a track. The sort of thing that you hear at club volume and immediately find yourself compelled to indulge in all sorts of bizarre mutant aerobics.

Total mark: 9/10 (as I don't think Reactivated is that great)

More info:
Carbon Based interview on HF
Carbon Based
Electronic Records

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