Posted on December 29th, 2013 (1:00 pm) by Jake Cappuccino

Released in early December on Monstercat, the Secret Weapon EP plays like a less angry Skrillex. Au5 and Fractal have made a listenable electronic EP, but not a very danceable one. There are lots of nice sounds, some interesting dubstep, drum and bass, and some standard fare from progressive house. If Au5 and Fractal team up again, the next EP or album could be better. There are one or two unpleasant items, but most of the EP is average. It is neither here nor there, but simply ordinary. But they show enough creativity, passion, and diversity to make the EP worth hearing if not buying.

The first track, “Blue,” is a decent mix of futuristic, dubstep, and drum and bass elements. It is not the finest example of dubstep out there, but the samples and melodies are just good enough to sustain the track through its hyperactive drops. The first drop is particularly bad. After a nice build up, Au5 and Fractal just throw all kinds of strange noises and weirdly metered bass hits into the song. It is too aggressive and at high volumes harmful to the ears. Fortunately, the second drop sounds somewhat better by comparison; it incorporates a lovely melody that the first drop under utilizes. For dub heads and drum and bassers, this is a good track. For most others, “Blue” is a little too freaky.

The second track, “Dreaming,” is more chill than “Blue.” Nice vocals, softer sounds, and good synth work make for a much gentler track that plays nicely on the ears. The main melody is fast, but smoothed over which really weakens its punch in a positive way. If each note was staccato, the melody would have been much worse. “Dreaming” is nearly the opposite of “Blue” and a prime example of the diverse genres at play in the EP.

The eponymous, third track is almost the best dubstep song on the EP. Except for one segment, it is never too aggressive and its drops are very cool. The drops make use of an echoing vocal sample that tempers the harsh bass. That is the case until Au5 and Fractal push the bass too hard. Vocals can only do so much to lighten the impact of the bass. Had they not relied so heavily on the bass, this song could have been the best track on the EP. So listen to it for the good parts where the bass and vocals counterbalance each other nicely. Those parts are definitely worth hearing.

"Smoke," the final track, is significantly more restrained with respect to the other three tracks. The opening is deep and chill. The various sounds and samples harmonize much better. Instead of a maze of bass twists and turns, “Smoke” offers something more substantive. The build-up and drop are executed nearly to perfection. The build up moves a little too quickly and the post-drop segment of the song maybe uses a few out of place samples. However, these minor faults do not worsen the song in a big way. “Smoke” remains as a fine example of the good qualities of dubstep. It sounds good, is very danceable, and is probably the best track on the EP.

Secret Weapon possesses effective elements, but some unpleasant segments nearly ruin the EP. If Au5 and Fractal could consistently reign in the harsher and harder dubstep aspects of their sounds then they could do some amazing work together. For now, pretend that those bad parts do not exist and give the EP a chance. If those nasty parts were not there, the EP would have been much better.

Track List:
1. Blue
2. Dreaming
3. Secret Weapon
4. Smoke

Au5 & Fractal - Secret Weapon EP
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

62 / 100
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