Last month I reviewed the Transllusion cd, which culminated in a rare thumbs-down assessment from me. I've never been much of an electro-funk fan, but i know stale beat construction when i hear it, and that particular solo effort from the Drexciya camp just didn't have much going for it. The new Drexciya full-length, "Harnessed the Storm" however, adds the flavor and personality that "Cerebral Gate" so painfully lacked. '80s-inspired futurism with obvious nods to both Georgio Morodor and Afrika Bambaataa, the electro sound of sequenced basslines and cheesy drum machines rarely breaks free of its retro trappings, but artists like Adult, Bolz Bolz, and Drexciya continue to keep the sound alive.
For almost 10 years now, the members of Drexciya have framed their ideas and identities within a futuristic vision of an under-sea metropolis, which one might suggest, mirrors the inner-city environment of their hometown of Detroit, Michigan. "Harnessed the Storm" furthers their nautical agenda musically, effectively updating their electro sound for a new generation of followers, as well as furthering their idealistic indentities as DJ's from an under-sea world far below the surface of the earth.
It's there that one experiences the forboding funk of "The Plankton Organization," which goose-steps its way into your cerebral cortex with it's relentless, lock-step beat that occasionally lets up long enough to reveal a strange, metallic-sounding reverberation. "Digital Tsunami" also smacks you upside your ears with its percussive, repetitive sequences. Each track has a darkness to it, providing the tension that keeps it interesting, but some tracks add a slight touch of mood-enhancement, like "Soul of the Sea," which offsets its grumbling basslines with a nice soulful skank.
Tracks like "Under Sea Disturbances" and "Birth of New Life" afford a rare glimpse of genuine, emotive expression from Drexciya, with their uplifting synth melodies and thematic sounds that add an extra touch of flavor to the underlying, robotic rhythmic constructions. "Harnessed the Storm," like many of their previous efforts, is a journey into a mysterious world where the official language is that of drum machines and is governed by a propulsive, tribal rhythm handed down from a previous generation of under-sea clubgoers. This new full-length, while preaching to the converted in its sleeve-worn, stylistic approach, provides the electro-adept with a new set of electro anthems and a unique vision to uphold.