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Posted on December 28th, 2012 (1:30 pm) by H. William Davis

Metropolis Pt. 1 is a tour through an electronic nightmare city, guided by members of Skrillex's OWSLA label, and The M Machine. Metropolis Pt. 1 creates its own world, lush with monarchs and industry and soft-voiced heroines running against the ruins. It's an ample metaphor for modern EDM, where a few enlightened survivors run among the rubble of a young, fallen, empire. While directly inspired by the Fritz Lang-directed film Metropolis, Metropolis Pt. 1 also shares connections with a whole world of science fiction and Noir, and is still able to create a solid, vivid world of its own while incorporating the same aesthetic regarding different genres and reformations of electronic music.

There are electronic concept albums, and there are dancehall wunderkinds, and Metropolis Pt. 1 somehow manages to be both. Physically engaging and emotionally intimate, Metropolis Pt. 1 breaks down boundaries invisibly present in electronic music before. The future of this is just as gauge as our own, unsure but with an answer looming on the horizon. Opener "Immigrants" reveals the world of Metropolis Pt. 1 to the listener; who, at this point in the album, is unaware of the soundscape about to be revealed to them. It is the skyline of a city, blooming towards a horizon, introducing both the narrative and musical complexities the album hopes to tackle. "Immigrants" is loud and powerful and aggressive, intellectually complex but danceable; invocative of a dystopian future where the only thing one can hope for is dancing, sort of a reverse Footloose.

"Deep Search" reveals more of Metropolis Pt. 1, culling sci-fi originated sounds and reveling in a unique time signature, creating the effect of one long, superimposed drop. Fueled by a mid-track revelation, "Deep Search" shows the ability to lift things off the dance floor momentarily to ascend EDM and grasp at something higher, weightier, loftier. The narrative is, however, still subdued. The two opening tracks serve as an emotional introduction to the world of Metropolis Pt. 1, where the following tracks begin to add vocals, characters, and action to the plot. We are introduced to the ruler of Metropolis Pt. 1, as well as the daily life of its citizens and the grungy industrial sector - all of these elements are portrayed in accurate sonic form. Finally, the album returns to familiar ground with "Shadow In The Rose Garden" building on the success of "Promise Me A Rose Garden" while fusing drum and bass with dub step elements. The effect is genuinely reminiscent of a broken promise, not by character flaw but by the overhead of political tyranny.

Technically, The M Machine is able to mold their story from established brands of electronic music. Fueled by a dystopian, industrial banger with "Black," incorporating dubstep into the shadow of a lost promise, and turning the monologue of a solemn king in "A King Alone" into an ethereal mental jaunt: Metropolis Pt. 1 successfully acknowledges the trends in EDM, takes what it can use, and discards the rest. We know what it feels like to be a stranger in this place on "Immigrants," and we know what it feels to be on the inside looking out on "Faces". The creation of this world is topped with great production, interesting sound selection, and genuine professionalism backed by artistic creativity and integrity. In addition, the album tries, tries to do many things at once, tries to be creative and push boundaries, and tries to be listenable and enjoyable and is successful, which is leaps and bounds beyond most bands breaking into the genre.

Like a well penned novel, Metropolis Pt. 1 lays out a series of interesting questions to the discerning listeners who finds themselves caught up in the history of what is happening. Incredulously, those answers are presumed to be answered on Metropolis Pt. 2. The incredible element of this is the concepts manifested in the songs are also concrete metaphors, allowing the abstract sounds to resemble and inspire their physical counterparts, making the world come alive in a way that is rare even for written words. Metropolis Pt. 1 is, however, an incredibly listenable album. The songs held within can stand on their own for musical purposes, if not strictly artistic. The M Machine have created a hybrid beast, one that tackles dilemmas from every spectrum of EDM and modern popular music in general. They've created an album anticipating its follow-up, spawning a fan base out of circumstance alone. Although Metropolis Pt. 2 will most likely solidify The M Machine as a musical force, the seeds of their genius are plentiful and obvious on Metropolis Pt. 1.

Track List:
1. Immigrants
2. Deep Search
3. A King Alone
4. Faces
5. Black
6. Shadow In The Rose Garden

The M Machine: Metropolis Pt. 1
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

83 / 100
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