NEGATIVE FORMAT

Album: "Cipher Method"
Label: Sector 9 Studios (2003)
Style: EBM
Songs: 11

A
 

Reviewed by: Darklight

I have not followed the music of Negative Format since the projectís debut release Pathologic Syndrome. And while Pathologic Syndrome was a good first effort for solo artist Alex Matheu, it was rather amateurish in its overall sound and quite typical for electro-industrial music at the time. Basically, it didnít impress me enough to continue following the music of Negative Format which included Result Of A New Culture (1998) and Distant Pulses (2000).

It was hearing the song "Transfer" at Real Synthetic Audio (www.synthetic.org) that prompted me to get this Cipher Method CD. "Transfer" is one of the more refreshing sounding EBM songs that Iíve heard in a long time. And the same could be said for this entire Cipher Method recording.

The music on this CD is what I like to call technical electro music. Itís mature and artistic immaculately layered and textured futuristic sci-fi electronic music. I have heard this music described as trance, and it does share similarities. But in the end I would still consider this EBM. Every track is semi-energetic with nicely constructed programming, solid beats and beautiful melodies along with both deep clear vocals and slightly robotically altered vocals.

This is a very consistent recording from beginning to end. There really are no drastic changes from one song to the next. They all stick to a similar formula. But since the formula is good, Iím not complaining. The only consistency that bothers me a bit is the robotically altered vocals. Theyíre used too much. Alex has a great voice and sings well, so using effects on his voice throughout most of this CD is rather disappointing. On songs such as "Transfer", "Static" and "Downfall" he sings with his natural clear untreated voice, and it allows these songs to stand out. While I do like the robotically altered vocals as they fit with the sci-fi electro music, they arenít as good as Alexís untreated voice and dominate too much of the CD. They should have been used less, not more. So this was a slightly poor decision on Alexís part in my opinion.

Being the type of music that this is, I was expecting a lot of instrumentals. But there is actually only one at the very end of the CD. This was a pleasant surprise as I do tend to prefer the majority of songs on albums to have vocals.

Every song here is good and the track order is nicely done. This is a smooth flowing recording from beginning to end. This is the style of music that once you begin listening to it you get lost within it. Itís finely crafted and enjoyable to listen to.

If you like bands such as Haujobb, Headscan and NETZ, this Negative Format "Cipher Method" CD is a must.

 

Album: "Pathologic Syndrome"
Label: Hypnotic Trancez Music (1997)
Style: Electro industrial
Songs: 14

B

Reviewed by: Darklight

This music is very dark and moody and plays at a rather dreary medium pace. The electronic rhythms and beats are fairly catchy and do pull you in from the start. The background synths are haunting and compliment the overall sound. Sampled guitar even makes an appearance at times. It's mixed with the music perfectly and proves that guitar can work in this style of music if it's used properly. There are samples scattered throughout the songs adding even more depth and complexity. Ten of the songs do include angry distorted male vocals, while the four instrumentals are a nice touch for some variety. My main complaint here is that all of the songs do tend to sound very similar to each other. Nothing really stands out. Also, I do feel that there is some growth to be had here. This music does have a bit of an amateur sound to it and does seem to be following a formula. There is some variety to be found here, but not enough.