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Primer

Aaron and Abe working on 'the device' in Aaron's garage.

I’m not sure what I was expecting when I watched Primer; I’d heard it described as ‘the adult Donnie Darko;’ a moniker very hard-earned, I would say. As such I suppose I was expecting a mind-bending tale of time-travel with a personal undercurrent of the protagonist trying to right his wrongs, overcome his sociopathic nihilism and make sense of his life.

What I got was 80 minutes of bland dialogue, forgettable acting and a plot so obfuscated and nonsensical that it caused me to lose interest in the film entirely. Given the budget on which this film was created ($7000/~£4300) and the quadruple role held by Shane Carruth (writer, director, producer and star,) it’s fairly understandable that Primer is not all it could be.

In the opening scene, we are introduced to Aaron, Abe and their two partners (who are later all-but-abandoned by the story,) working on their home business and discussing their experimental project. The purpose of Primer, in many ways, is to portray time-travel, not in the hi-tech polished steel and plastic realm of Deja Vu or Paycheck, but in an everyday way. Aaron and Abe discover a means of travelling through time entirely by accident whilst working on an unknown project in their garage.

It’s a very refreshing view on the technology, seeing two blokes accidentally send a Weeble forward in time and back in their garage, certainly after years of seeing time-travel occur amidst ultra-hi-tech devices in a white room deep in a US military base (or similar.) I would go so far as to say that this film has the best portrayal of any film I’ve seen recently; accessible, fairly understandable and a decent balance of technology and effect.

Two examples of an imbalance of technology and effect would be Donnie Darko and Deja Vu. Donnie Darko depicts no time-travel

The human-size devices in the self-storage building.

apparatus at all (apart from perhaps the wormhole,) and yet the effects of time-travel are very visible and integral to the plot. Deja Vu, on the other hand, is more spectacle-based; hoards of screens, blue-ish machinery and epilepsy-inducing flashing green lights form a time-viewing/travel machine that doesn’t do much more than just surveillance (at first.) J. J. Abrams’ popular TV series Lost is the perfect balance; the Dharma Initiative having cracked time-travel during the 1980s using rather clandestine and simple-looking technology.

Having said that, every other aspect of Primer is very bland and boring. The acting is quite hard to describe; Carruth obviously intended for the movie to be as close to reality as possible, which it is, provided that you and your friends mumble, frequently interrupt each other and respond with random non-sequiturs. It seems to me that either all the characters are talking over each other, or not talking at all.

This makes the dialogue that much harder to follow; when you’re trying to follow four yuppies who accidentally stumble upon a means altering the laws of causality and quantum physics, badly constructed dialogue that flows like bricks in glue is the least appropriate means of doing so. One saving grace is that there is no real overacting; what’s worse than generally bad acting is bland acting, and what’s worse than that is overly enthusiastic drama students fresh out of acting school expressing their character’s feelings with inhuman vigour.

Aaron and Abe holed-up in a hotel to avoid causality paradoxes.

It is impossible to bond with the characters in Primer, or make any kind of connection with them at all, apart from maybe dislike. Four characters, two of which receive very little screen-time, the other two of which are so boring and devoid of human presence that one can only feel disdain towards them. The standard by which I would gauge a character’s importance is how much I would care if he (or she) died, and how I would feel. For example, if Donkey died at the end of Shrek I would be so inconsolable that I’d be petitioning Eddie Murphy to kill Mike Meyers. Conversely, in the Harry Potter series, the audience is groomed to want Lord Voldermort to die as he is the embodiment of wizarding evil and Harry’s nemesis.

I could watch Abe and Aaron die in fire or some horrific accident associated with their time machine and not care in the slightest. I would like to say that this is because they’re annoying, but it’s not that so much as that I just can’t suspend disbelief long enough to actually see them as people; to me they just seem like actors who can’t act, playing characters who are bland and two-dimensional.

Ordinarily, I would herald subtly in cinema; but the extent to which Primer goes in hiding and suppressing the major plot points is just ludicrous. Several major plot points go by with very little explanation in any way (dialogue, camera etc.) If it weren’t for the telephone narration – which, again, goes with very little explanation, – we’d miss quite a few things that are rather important.

Carruth has stated that he ‘deliberately obfuscated the narrative.’ Again, I would usually applaud this, but in this case it is done to such a heavy extent that I now assume that Carruth simply lacks the ability to write a consistent and coherent plot. As I said, the dialogue and narrative is very dull up until the 50 minute mark, at which it jumps to an insane speed. By 65 minutes, the narrative has taken on such an incredibly nauseating pace that I gave up trying to figure it out. By the end of the movie I had lost interest all together.

It has been said of Primer, ‘anybody who claims he fully understands what’s going on in Primer after seeing it just once is either a savant or a liar.’ I would include this addendum: ‘anybody who tries to understand it will be sadly disappointed.’ People seem to assume that there’s some deep meaning to Primer; some masked truths laid down by a genius awaiting discovery. There are none.

Primer boils down to an under-funded movie based on a rickety amount of skill and created with the intention of capitalising on the booming 2000s Indie movie scene. If Primer is indeed the ‘best Indie movie ever made,’ as it has so been dubbed, then I would gladly go back to modern mainstream cinema. Mercifully, it is not, so I don’t have to.

Giving Primer a generous 4 out of 10.

Donnie Darko

It seems I’ve been neglecting my adoring readers (derp) for several months now. Well, let’s get on with it.

Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhaal)

On the table today is 2001 surrealist Indie psych-horror Donnie Darko. Filmed in 28 days on a budget of $4.5million, Donnie Darko was – predictably – a box office failure, grossing just over $4.1million.

However, it has enjoyed very strong DVD and BluRay sales and garnered a devoted cult fanbase.

It’s very difficult knowing where to start with Donnie Darko, in any respect, certainly for a first-time viewer. I have a confession to make here; I first watched Donnie Darko in 2003 and it parted my hair as it shot over my head.

8 years and 5 viewings later, I can finally say that the plot is starting to make sense to me. Trying to find a movie with a similarly disjointed, non-linear and bizarre narrative would be a like trying to find porn in Toys ‘r’ Us.

Donnie and love-interest Gretchen

I would like to say that this is what makes Donnie Darko great, but it’s not, at least not solely. There are plenty of films sporting sliced-up stories and cryptic concepts and, for the most part, these movies fail in every way.

Darko is unique in that it manages to be brain-bakingly insane and completely credible simultaneously; confusing to the point of frustration, but also a work of cinematic beauty.

Set in a 1980s American small-town microcosm, Donnie Darko focusses on the life of disturbed genius Donald Darko (portrayed by Jake Gyllenhaal.) Darko harbours severe psychological issues bordering on paranoid Schizophrenia with inclinations toward pyromania, a lot of which is perpetuated by his repeated hallucinations of a large, anthropomorphic rabbit called Frank. We first meet Donnie after one of his sleepwalking excursions; he awakes on a secluded mountain road and smiles oddly at the sunrise.

We are shortly thereafter introduced to the town of Middlesex; a microcosm of American culture. An almost stereotypical small town model, complete with high-school, bullies, a cinema, picket fences and all the other hallmarks of an archetypal fictional middle-American town.

A good criterion for judging the merit of a film is the authenticity of the peripheral characters and universe. It’s all too easy to concentrate on the headline actors and the main story, but the universe on which the movie is built supports the whole story; makes it believable.

Although in what way the term “believable” applies to a movie featuring a time-travelling jet engines and a 6-foot tall rabbit that warns of the end of the world, I don’t know.

In this respect, Donnie Darko excels. The various subnarratives that interweave the main story add to the movie’s interest and overall feel.

Frank

Speaking of which, by far the most interesting character in the movie is Frank. As with a vast amount of this movie, Frank is never fully explained, but contributes to the story in such a profound way.

Firstly, Frank lures Donnie out of his house at night in order to prevent Donnie being crushed by the jet engine that crashes into their house. This is an integral event in the course of the narrative, quite literally accounting for every subsequent action.

Frank then tells Donnie exactly when the world will end.

At this point, I must bring up the subject of Donnie Darko’s narrative, and the fact that I am still slightly confused by it all. A mercy is that certain scenes in the film are interspersed with extracts from the book of mysterious elderly recluse Roberta Sparrow, affectionately known as ‘Grandma Death.’

These extracts explain some of what happens in the movie, perhaps even all of it, if somewhat cryptically.

Grandma Death speaking her only line in the whole film; 'every living creature on Earth dise alone.'

I’m holding my hands up here; I’ve given up trying to summarise the storyline of Donnie Darko; it is literally too complicated and confusing to explain, certainly without spoiling everything. I plan on writing another article explaining Donnie Darko, and when I do, I shall insert the link here.

Rose Darko (Mary McDonnell)

Mary McDonnell is quite possibly the most underrated actress of modern times. Co-staring in Independence Day, Donnie Darko and the re-imagined 2004 TV series of Battlestar Galactica, she has consistently portrayed strong female characters with a great degree of authenticity and commitment.

In Donnie Darko, she takes on the roll of Rose Darko, Donnie’s mother. A suburban hockey-mom figure, Rose seems to quite interestingly contrast to the strongly conservative and Christian character of Kitty Farmer, who I would personally like to punch in the face.

Kitty Farmer, gym teacher at Middlesex High, is an outspoken conservative activist and a strong fan of the work of self-help expert Jim Cunningham. One of my favourite subnarratives in DD is when [spoiler] Jim Cunningham is revealed to be a paedophile [/spoiler] prompting Kitty to ‘spearhead’ his legal defense, also showing us another interesting clash between Farmer’s strong right-wing mentality and Rose Darko’s liberal parenting and views.

Authoritarian right-wing teacher Kitty Farmer (Beth Grant)

Kitty Farmer and Jim Cunningham is definitely something to which attention should be paid; again, as I do not want to spoil the film for anyone, I can’t explain why. Darn.

Other great characters include Drew Barrymore’s excellent portrayal of dejected liberal English teacher Ms. Pomeroy and Jena Malone who plays Gretchen, Donnie’s love interest and stabilising influence throughout most of the film.

In short, as the Parallel Universe falls apart around the town of Middlesex, the lives of the inhabitants become increasingly violent and intense, culminating in the ultimate destruction of the universe, or at least the ‘Tangent Universe,’ as it it referred to in Sparrow’s book.

A beautifully filmed piece of psychological horror cinema, rife with fine acting, bizarre hallucinations and a narrative that will cause your brain to melt out your nose.

Enjoy the movie; I know I did.

8/10.

One other thing I should mention: you may well see or hear of a movie entitled S. Darko. This has been dubbed ‘the sequel’ to Donnie Darko. It is not; it is an oddly half-assed attempt at playing off the success of such a ground-breaking movie which has, inevitably, failed. I may well review it on here one day, but for the time being, there is only one Donnie Darko, and it is Donnie Darko.

The Exorcist

The Exorcist has been subject to infamy since its release. Today, it has been elevated to an almost mythical position in Western culture; shorthand for blasphemy, anti-Catholicism and anti-Christianity. It is for these reasons that I chose to watch The Exorcist; to form a first-hand opinion in order not to fall prey to the mass cultural delusion that this epoch-setting slice of cinema is as the Saw series is to the notion of people maintaining contact with their limbs.

"The power of Christ compels you!"

The cast of The Exorcist is largely lackluster and unimpressive, but that is not for what the film is famous. What it is famous for is its ground-breaking portrayal of taboo subjects, not in a vile and depraved way, but in a much more civilised and, let’s say, realistic manner. It’s true to say that certain scenes are exaggerated somewhat for commercial value, but that is to be expected of a mainstream movie.

Blair has starred in some of the most degenerate garbage produced by the American film institutions in history. Ellen Burstyn’s portrayal of MacNeil is, while boring, believable; her reactions and treatment for her dear demonic daughter are quite interesting. Karras is the only character with whom I feel we bond; the titular exorcist, the movie tells the story of [spoiler] his final days, [/spoiler] his misery at losing his mother, his shattered faith and his selfless efforts to exorcise the demon from Regan.

Lt. Kinderman (Lee Cobb) and Father Karras (Jason Miller)

What strikes me about The Exorcist is the way in which it is so ahead of its time. Mainstream cinema in the 1970s was just coming to terms with the use of profanity, but The Exorcist takes this acceptance of obscenity several steps further by using this particular obscenity three times, something that is still rare today, let alone in the predominantly conservative 1970s. Like I said previously, this is not done in a gratuitous way, but rather to convey the evil nature of the entity possessing Regan, or at least that’s the reason I’d like to give. Alternatively, it’s just a selling point; ‘the movie with three c-words!’

Regan in a state of full possession.

Similarly, its no-holds-barred attitude to the portrayal of demon possession is quite impressive; the depths of depravity to which the demon causes Regan to sink is actually amazing. Quite frankly, I’m amazed that The Exorcist was so well received in America, such a fundamentally Christian and conservative country.

In short, the camera work is second-rate at best, the cast is largely forgettable (although Linda Blair continues to surface in the lake of sewage that is today’s budget horror movie industry) and the narrative is lacking for a good half an hour. But that is almost outweighed by the quite impressive handling of such interesting and – at the time – taboo subjects.

I can’t quite put my finger on it; despite its technical lacking – of which I am very aware, – I’ve enjoyed The Exorcist each and every time I’ve watched it. I’d compare it to eating at Burger King; you know that there’s very little skill submerging potatoes in hot oil and you dread to think what’s in the hamburger meat, but you enjoy the result nonetheless.

For those of you who like a numerical quantification of an opinion, I give The Exorcist 7/10.

Zombieland

Note: I originally wrote this in March 2010.

If not for Shaun of the Dead (2004) we would not have had a good zombie survival movie since the late 1970s (Dawn of the Dead 1979;) and if not for Zombieland, I think we’d still be waiting. Admittedly it’s no ground-breaking Zom-Com like SOTD, but it has a certain charm and character I think makes it a good stop-gap measure until the release of the Messianic Zom-Com I hope will one day be released.

Zombie near the Whitehouse

Considering the cast are relatively obscure – [spoiler] save for Bill Murray who makes a brief appearance before being shot in the chest by accident [/spoiler] – the quality of acting is surprisingly good; Eisenberg plays a compulsively fastidious, guppy-gutted college kid trying to return home to Columbus, Ohio whose ‘rules’ on surviving in ‘Zombieland’ frequently appear in the film. He meets up with meat-head granite-chested Harrelson, both of whom deal with the zombie pandemic in very different ways, though they are united by their mutual love of the good ol’ shotgun-to-the-face approach of dealing with the reanimated undead.

Tallahassee
Harrelson as 'Tallahassee'
Columbus
Eisenberg as 'Columbus'

The roles of their female counterparts in the film are a little confusing; Stone and Breslin’s characters seem either to be platforms for feminist propaganda – i.e. besting the chauvinist male in a game of wit and false-trust – or as the archetypal damsel in distress, held aloft a fun-fair ride screaming for their lives while men come to their rescue. Nonetheless, they are interesting characters who tastefully complement Tallahassee’s brash masculinity and Columbus’ overt meekness.

Wichita and Little Rock
Stone and Breslin as 'Witchita' and 'Little Rock' respectively.

Something that I think has been done exceptionally well is the way in which the audience really bond with the characters – and the characters bond with each other – despite the fact that not a single person in the film explicitly states their name, instead eliciting to be called by where they’re going or coming from, or what dorm room they come from.

Yes I’ve described Zombieland as a Zom-Com; we’ve covered the Zom, now on to the Com. In short: it’s funny; the film’s atmosphere is quite light considering that every other person on the planet is a cannibalistic psychopathic embodiment of ultimate evil. The characters play off each others’ weaknesses and strengths and Bill Murray shows up at one point, which immediately chills everything out.

'Don't kill me with my own gun!'

My only gripe about this film is the formulaic narrative; it’s as though the writer started at chapter one of “How to write a Zombie movie,” got bored, moved on to “Comedy for Dummies,” then wrote the screenplay. That said, it’s adequately interesting and watchable.

Overall, it’s a decent movie, but it’s not something I’ll remember too well. We’re overdue for a good zombie movie, so I’m holding on for that. Let’s all hope; perhaps the collective willpower of all us die-hard Zombie fans will cause the Gods of the cinema to allow something good to be made.

7.5 / 10

Let The Right One In

Note: This review was originally written in January 2010.

95% of America’s films are the product of a lazy system; they are either copies of foreign films foraged from abroad and rebuilt to suit a xenophobic nation or simply explosions of the latest special effects and platforms for so-called stars.

Films produced in the latter mould are the back-birthed brats of over-paid and under-skilled directors and producers whose sole ability in the cinematic field is to effectively strip a storyline down to the point where it is so simplistic that an autistic badger could understand it, then fill in the gaping and gangrenous holes with enough special effects to give a battalion of bats epileptic seizures. The basic idea seems to be that if something large in the shot can’t be added post-production or rendered digitally, then it’s out of the final cut.

The former course, however, I believe is far worse; this is sadly the fate that will befall what I proudly count as one of my favourite films of all time: Let the Right One In.

There are very few words I could use to adequately describe Let the Right One In, but among them are ‘beautiful,’ ‘unique’ and ‘terrifying.’

Set in a sombre and snowy suburb of Stockholm, Let the Right One In regales the love story between an effeminate 12-year-old boy and a 200-year-old vampire in the body of a 12-year-old girl (or not, as the novel suggests, but that’s barely even discussed in the movie.)

The protagonist of the film is primarily Oskar (Hedebrant,) who is bullied at school, lacks human companionship, almost neglected by his parents and has self-esteem quantifiable only in negative numbers, though as a child this is cushioned by his pre-adolescent optimism and naivety.

When I say ‘love story,’ I do not mean aneurysm-inducing sickly-sweet ‘romantic’ trash we’ve come to expect from Twilight – e.g. “OH ELI I LOVE YOU,” “OH OSKAR I LOVE YOU TOO, BUT I’M DANGEROUS AND I MIGHT KILL YOU BY ACCIDENT SO I CAN’T BE WITH YOU THOUGH I LOVE YOU I MAY KILL YOU.” “BUT I STILL LOVE YOUUUUUUUU,” – I mean not only the exploration of young love, but young love between an naive outsider and an ostracised ancient-though-young vampire, something that would be hard to portray with any decent degree of believability and emotional depth, but frankly, Let the Right One In pulls off this extraordinary feat with abounding finesse.

There is something ethereal and other-worldly in the world of Oskar, Eli and their simple Stockholm neighbours; Eli’s presence seems to have an almost hypnotic effect on the film’s atmosphere, which makes the film all the more chilling and intense.

The sheer juxtaposition of something so powerful in such a fragile body is one of the driving forces behind this film; that along with Oskar’s pre-teen love of Eli, Eli’s loneliness being defeated by her love for Oskar and the Ikea-furnished set in which the tale is told.

Let the Right One In is not ‘scary’ as such in the conventional sense; I found that there is a great deal of very subtle emotional and psychological horror at work that at times reaches critical mass and takes the reins of the narrative.

Eli bleeds after entering a room without invitation.

Presently, child actors are seldom talented – *points at the Disney Channel* – even in mainstream movies, so finding such exceptional talent in Leandersson and Hedebrant is nothing short of miraculous; they truly are the perfect actors for these roles. I will be most interested to see Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloe Moretz clumsily fumbling to fill these shoes. I will not be in the least bit surprised when they fail.

The supporting roles in Let the Right One In are not very memorable, but that only serves to reinforce the realism of the production and direct the attention of the viewer more towards the protagonists and their relationship.

Eli bleeds...
.. Oskar watches, horrified.

Let the Right One In is – almost – perfect as it is, and for this reason it quite literally sickens me to think that the majority of people who see Let Me In (the 2010 American ‘version’ due for a public throat-thrusting later in October) will never know of the Swedish masterpiece of love, horror, solitude and acceptance that is Let the Right One In.

One saving grace, however, is that Let Me In will not have to suffer at the hands of one such talentless and hapless director as Chris Weitz or Eli Roth (of New Moon and Hostel infamy respectively,) but rather Matt Reeves who brought us Cloverfield and… erm… so Reeves is still a fairly fledgling director, but he cut his teeth on Cloverfield, which was not at all bad, so I hold high hopes for his ability as a director in the future.

All I can hope is that the second adaptation of the novel Let the Right One In is even half as good as the first, for even then would it be a greater film than the vast majority of the vacuous shells of movies we have seen recently being crapped out of Hollywood.

Sunshine

Searle staring at the Sun
Searle staring at the Sun

One aspect of Sunshine that was very apparent to me was the way in which the film’s pace oscillates between the speed of an arthritic snail and Usain Bolt on cocaine, somewhat like Inglorious Basterds but in a much less crude and unrefined manner. As the movie progresses, the crises become more frequent and more intense, both of which are intensified by the very tame opening scenes.

This will come as no surprise to most of you, but one of my favourite films of all time is Ridley Scott’s Alien; intensely minimalist, claustrophobic and so tense that I fear my knuckles will never regain their colour. One of the signature stylistic nuances of Alien is the long single-shot scenes depicting corridors and the ship’s exterior, something Boyle has picked up and emulated spectacularly. If it hadn’t been for some of Boyle’s archetypal directorship, I could easily have mistaken Sunshine for Ridley Scott’s work, something I maintain is a good thing.

Pinbacker
Boyle’s method for instilling suspense in his audience is to use a disorienting mix of graphical layering, bright lights and fleeting glimpses of some previously-unseen evil, usually all at once. The scenes involving Pinbacker are like this, so much so that we never actually see Pinbacker for more than a split-second, and even then we just see shadows and scorched flesh.
The anthropological value of the movie comes from the situation in which the characters are placed; the intense solitude of space combined with the mind-crushing responsibilty of redeeming the entire human race. As Capa – Cillian Murphy’s character – says; ‘eight astronauts strapped to the back of a bomb’ makes for some very interesting character developments. Having said that, about half of the characters are utterly two-dimentional and entirely forgettable.

Sunshine‘s similarities to Alien peak with the depiction of the crew; in a scene barely dissimilar to the infamous Chestburster Scene in Alien, the crew of the Icarus II sit in a dingy dining room eating rations and discussing mundane matters.

Alien was the trendsetter in the utilitarian NASA-style spacecraft design – another theme on which Sunshine draws heavily – but also the measured space scenes; a strong contrast to such blockbusters as Star Trek and the Star Wars prequels.

Icarus II

In terms of storyline, Sunshine is somewhat lacking. In another Alien-esque technique, each subplot is dragged out into a semi-self-contained narrative, all of which are tied to one character’s error or the narrative of the Icarus II’s (the ship’s) odyssy to the Sun. The slow-moving story is reflective of the actual chronology of the film’s universe; the Icarus II takes seven years to reach the sun, then seven years to return, not to mention the Icarus I’s eight-year journey before its demise. The Icarus I scenes give a very strong sense of time passing; the ship’s interior is laden with dust and the [spoiler] crew’s corpses are remarkably decayed. [/spoiler]

A convention that I have noticed in Danny Boyle’s movies is the way in which he masterfully balances sanity with insanity; realism and surrealism, shows us how thin the dividing line is, then crosses it with increasing frequency and depravity. For example, in Trainspotting, he contrasts the gritty realism of the Edinburgh drug scene with the surrealism of Ewan McGreggor diving into a toilet and a baby with a rotating head á la The Exorcist crawling on the ceiling.

On an inferior note, the soundtrack sounds like a jamming session between Godspeed You Black Emperor and Frederic Chopin’s reanimated zombified corpse, but it’s good anyway; very atmospheric and appropriate for the subject matter.

Cillian Murphy gives a fashionably taciturn performance; my estimate is that he has another two rolls as sullen soft-spoken characters before he is permanently typecast forever.

The Icarus I and Icarus II sun 'shields.' Both the Icarus I and II fly in the shadow of enormous glorified parasols.
The sun shields from the front

I’m giving Sunshine a 7/10; I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, though I feel it borrowed just a bit too much from Alien. But that’s just my opinion.

Black Sun Empire – Lights and Wires

BSECD005, also known as Lights and Wires, was finally released on November 15th after what I can only describe as a painful 2-year wait since the release of Endangered Species. Two days on, I think it’s about time I register my feelings with the world.

What I love about Black Sun Empire is their trend-setting style; a heady mix of Drum n Bass and Darkstep with a little neurofunk thrown in for good measure. Such a concoction alongside legendary technical skills on the DJs’ part makes for some brilliant tracks with which I will never become bored.

Arrakis, Potemkin, Breach, Sandbag (with State of Mind,) Bitemark; all very memorable BSE tracks of albums past. Stalwarts of my music collection. I have discovered a pattern of late; each BSE album yields two tracks that are truly exceptional amongst the remaindered not-so-fantastic tracks. The same is true of Lights and Wires, to an extent.

The album begins with a track entitled The 405; a breakaway from Black Sun Empire’s usual unique usage of classic breakbeats in the use of beat that would not be out of place in a Dubstep album. Upon first hearing the track, I truly hoped that I didn’t have much more Dubstep to endure.

That fear vanished with the arrival of the second track, entitled Chaingang; a more conventional BSE track.

My only complaint regarding Lights and Wires is the high Dubstep content; something I would, under normal circumstances, consider reason to delete an album altogether. However, I stuck with it and was rewarded greatly. Despite Dubstep being sickeningly close to its retarded cousin Grime, Black Sun Empire manages to wield some potent technical magic and create some exceptional Dubstep tracks.

The ‘middle’ tracks are a consistent mixture of Darkstep and Dubstep with small generic influences creeping in here and there, but there are none too memorable.

Track 14: Fever. Exceptional. Earlier, I mentioned my Two Track rule. Chaingang is one, Fever is the other. Harking back to earlier BSE days, Fever makes use of beats and samples reminiscent of tracks such as Status and Don’t You. Definitely a favourite.

Lastly, I was most surprised to hear audio samples in the track Eraser from the Showtime series Dexter; a personal favourite of mine. I have to say that my interest was lagging up until Fever, lapsed a little more after that, but was awakened when I heard Dexter Morgan’s voice speaking the words “I’ve lived in darkness a long time.”

I won’t lie; Lights and Wires is not Black Sun Empire’s greatest album, a mantle I will now and forever reserve for Driving Insane, but nonetheless it is another landmark release by Black Sun Empire and an album to which I will enjoy listening for at least another month.

Favourite Tracks: Chaingang, Fever.

Likes: More epic tracks from a legendary producer; good, clean sound and masterful beats.
Dislikes: Crossing a little far into Dubstep territory; somewhere Black Sun Empire does not belong.

Rating: 7.5/10

The Man Behind the Pages

I won’t say much; I’m aware of the idiocy of publishing too much information on the internet for all the wired and wireless world to see. Nonetheless, it may help to know a little about who I am, where I am and what I do.

For starters, I was born and bred in Leicester, England for the majority of my life, but I currently live in King Williams Town, South Africa. I have plans, none of which are too specific or adequately detailed, but I have more-or-less planned the next year of my life. Where I go from there is anyone’s guess.

One other thing: this is the second incarnation of my blog; the previous having been lost along with my old server. I’m still hunting down backups; when I find them, I’ll repost them here.

Enjoy.

Roni, Myself and Amar; taken in 2008.