Sean Payne’s Cyanotic have always been more than their reputation suggests. The first thing most people think of – that know of them at least – is their intense fusions of drum’n’bass, industrial and metal that have been the core of all of their signature songs. But all the way since they first started, the band have paced their albums and EPs well, with slower, more thoughtful tracks, and second album The Medication Generation (or medgen, for short) had their best tracks in this realm so far.
So the release of an EP – a companion release, MedPack Vol. 2, is apparently due at some point soon – entirely made up of material that is more mellow, if not relaxed, actually makes perfect sense.
Especially when it features reworkings that are actually the superior to the original. Monochrome Skies [Grey Version] tones down the chugging guitars, and emphasises the rolling beat instead, making for perhaps a better balanced, and more chilled-out listen. Rather than the paranoia-edged atmospheres that the original created (admittedly perfectly in tune with the album itself). A Still Light Sun continues the theme, the blurb for the track suggesting “Imagine a burnt red sun rising over a futuristic metropolis in 2090 AD“, which pretty much does my job for me. While sombre in tone, it does have brighter moments, as the synths introduce new elements and melodies, like light reflecting off of glass-covered skyscrapers in the dusk.
The groggy, mashed-up funk of Hibernol is quite marvellous, too. Such a total reworking of Comadose that it isn’t immediately obvious that it is, the odd, ghostly vocal sample emerges from the murk, but otherwise this is a great, laid-back track.
Sean has never made any secret of his love for film soundtracks – in an interview I did with him online four years back, the soundtrack for Terminator 2 was cited as his first album, since followed by the quite brilliant T3RM1N8T0R release and more recently an effort for the Prometheus trailer (it isn’t the final version that was used, though). So to see Formless Memories, a two-part, nine-minute epic, billed as “a soundtrack to a film that doesn’t exist” is a logical step.
In fact, not only does it remind me of various sci-fi films, it also reminds me of the epic Remain Silent project, hours of intense industrial that was so extraordinarily detailed you could almost listen with your eyes shut, and invent a film of your own to accompany it. Similar feelings are invoked here, with more of those languid beats, and dark, ambient interludes that could have been on Future Sound Of London’s classic Dead Cities.
Once again, the bar has been set high. It has often been noted that Cyanotic are part of a “scene”, if you will, of like-minded bands across the US who have taken industrial and electronics from the past and the now, and created a near-futuristic hybrid that is a world away from the cheesy dance moves and goblin vocals of the scene across the Atlantic. But what this release, seen in the context of their previous work, proves more than anything is that Cyanotic are moving into a movement of their own. They are proving able now to form their own sonic signature, at their own pace, although let’s hope it isn’t all mellow for Vol. 2: although this EP proves once and for all that this side of the band’s sound is just as impressive as the dancefloor firestorms they made their name with in the first place.