COMBINATOR - Re//combinator - ALBUM REVIEW



COMBINATOR

Re//combinator

Seattle, WA, United States



Techno-Rock head? Prog Rock fan perhaps? How about an appreciator of clean-cut bass, slamming guitar and some cyberpunk instrumentals? I think that covers just about everyone. Meaning Combinator’s newest EP, Re//Combinator, is certainly for you. It touches on every one of those genres and musical stylings with a professional flair for the future. The EP is comprised of original material - I would say one cover but in this setting, it's more of a remastering - and remixes. Re//Combinator is an extremely unique album. It employs industrial design and percussion alongside slap bass, synth, heavy guitar and catchy melodies. Night City’s favourite band for certain.


The EP opens with ‘Guest in Your Own Skin’ which sits high on the register of heavy music, instead opting for organs and dissonant chord changes to build a darker sound. When the bass pulls the sound together the prog influence comes in, like RUSH from the future got moody and are taking it out on their label. The vocals gun it and the instrumental is precise, harmonic and strange in the best of ways. The melodies climb and fall faster than you can keep up, concocting this sense of disbelief toward the sounds happening all around you. It’s a brilliant opener, jarring and catchy it grabs your attention.


‘Things That Should Be’ is up next and it's classically heavy, but classic isn’t Combinator’s style, the addition of keys and harmonic vocals add a line of relief to what would otherwise be a song that drags you down into the depths. It brings this prog rock medley into the present and makes it feel welcoming in its complexity. The techno kicks in and the drums take a shift into the future and what was a modern-day rock staple becomes a future world punk hit. The melody bends rather than moves, always snapping back into place at unexpected moments creating a beat that keeps you guessing. It's a song that screams Combinator. (Watch out for that jazzy midsection as well. The math rock lover inside you will listen to ‘Things That Should Be’ over and over just for those bass guitar growls.)


‘Hide and Seek’ follows. The classic from Imogen Heap has never sounded more experimental. To take a song famed for its weirdness and build upon it rather than change it as many others have, is bold. And it works brilliantly on this album for two reasons. It acts as the breath of calm in the neon storm that is Re//Combinator, allowing the EP to feel like much more than a one-note outburst. And two it allows us to really discover what Combinator can bring to the world of pop if they tried. Bursts of deep bass plough through the chorus and the highs are exploding above us while techno pads glisten in the midsection. It plays with the construct of a well-loved song but does so in a way that is purely Combinator.


To close out we are thrown against two remixes of ‘Respira’. One which brings a club feel to the track and one that chills it out. Both are remixed by Jesse Holt and they are fine works of heavy Future-Synth art, two shining chrome additions to a standout experimental EP. The last song is also a remix and a bonus track. ‘Through the Fog’ remixed by Chi:Child brings focus to the musicality of the Combinator style. The song is the most acoustic on the album, we are treated to scale riffs and some wonderfully sour slap bass that climbs and drops in mere moments. A clean finish to Re//Combinator and I would say the most personal and human song on the album. A fond farewell from our beloved cyberpunk new wave overlord. He shall be back. And when he is, I do suggest we all listen in.