Album Review – Celldweller – Transmissions Vol. 3 (2016)

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Transmission Vol. 3 is the third installment of the Transmissions discography, a second group of compilations of re-imagined tracks based on the Blackstar saga (2009 – 2015), starting with Transmissions Vol. 1 (2014), and the previous installment Vol. 2 coming out last year. The trilogy can be considered either a separate project, or companion project to Soundtrack for the Voices in my Head (2008 – 2012); both of which are exclusively focused on electronic body music (EBM) related genres, and completely strips away the industrial, metal and rock genres out of the picture. Klayton stated in past interviews that Psytrance and Goa trance were strong influences on his Celldweller project, and these conceptual albums demonstrate that.

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Data Corruption, the opening track has a fixture of progressive house, trance, and dubstep. It contains the presence of many conceptual or experimental genres, where there is a construction that exhibits a narrative within the instrumentation. It doesn’t need to rely on lyrics to give the story direction, not unlike a score used to accompany a novel, or film, the purpose of Transmissions project as a whole. However, in comparison to Vol. 1 and Vol.2, which focus on electro-house, electronica, ambient and drone giving a more fast-paced, atmospheric story telling experience, Vol.3 as evident from Data Corruption is much darker, and more emotive with the introduction of lo-fi and progressive trance and house.

Future 1992 within the psytrance, electronica and lo-fi conception, uses old voice recordings of NASA rocket launches, and has an undercurrent, repetitive tone resembling the rhythm of Unshakeable, a track from the album Blackstar (2012) that speaks of the exploration of space, and mimics the backing echo of watching and waiting and space and time. The companion instrumental of this singular track removes the voice sampling completely and has been enhanced, so that the music is heard more clearly for the listener to focus on the every bit of detail patterned in.

Cassini, a low key track, manipulates lo-fi, drone, and ambient to give the presence of the universe itself, an eerie fusion of white noise and literal disjointed droning, as was discovered on satellite recordings of planets, recently discovered on Uranus and the sun, along with the deliberate replication of a distorted, slowed down ticking clock. Retrosexual returns back to an energetic arrangement, bringing back the electro-house feel, with a supplementary essence of synthwave, which oddly gives the narrative of this short track an 80s feel, reflecting on Klayton’s third persona, Scandroid.

Lifeforms, the first and only audio single to emerge for the album, back on 19th April, surprisingly not only re-utilizes Unshakeable, but also re-creates the once powerful track into a beautiful enchanting one, I can also hear parts of Elysium from last year’s End of an Empire (2015) being combined into this piece, which concludes the theory that the stories, or the mythology behind the Blackstar and End of an Empire albums are intertwined, and a part of the same universe. 5823 syndicates lo-fi, beat and electro-house, which backtracks into the course of the first two Transmissions albums, for its sprightly delivery.

D.N.A remains with the lo-fi theme, with the new addition of progressive trance, resuming the surround sound ambience found Cassini, only containing more passion, which the former lacked to give a more relaxing experience. Hold On reinstates the blue prints of what would become the track Unshakeable, however, recreating the electronic intervals instead of the lyrical contents, and again, takes in another track from End of an Empire, this time, the titular track of that album, End of an Empire to be thrown into the mix. Like Cassini and Lifeforms before it, it changes the instrumental emphasis, and instead of an authoritative dance track, is twisted marvelously into a meditative one, using again lo-fi and electronica.

Surface Scanner chains together dark ambient, drone and brief robotic indistinguishable voices appear and disappear into the nether reigns of the this dark, mysterious instrumental. It gives off the feeling of being unnerved, frightened and unsure of the uncharted reigns. C.R.A turns over the previous track, with a progressive trance-drone fusion, which grows more intense and vibrant as the track ends, musically emulating the arrival of a new dawn.

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