As seems to be common in the electronic scene, Assemblage 23 (A23) is the product of one man - Tom Shear. According to the bands official biography, the embryo of A23 was conceived on one fateful night in 1988, when Shear heard an industrial-dance DJ open for Depeche Mode. Staying true to this conception, Shear has made his name by merging synthpop beats with a darker aggressive sound, growing to become one of the most successful industrial-EBM artists of the last decade. After taking a two-year break, working - among other things - on side-project Nerve Filter, Shear is back with new album Meta set for release some time in April 2007. For the time being, however, we have Binary to chew on.
Binary is a maxi-single, out on Metropolis, featuring three unique tracks alongside two remixes of the title track. As the bridge between 2004's Storm and this years Meta, Binary has a lot of ground to cover and I'm happy to say that it does its job well. In the eleven years between A23's forming and debut Contempt being released, Shear developed an ear for creating consistently high-quality dance music and having slipped neatly into his groove and managed to stay there ever since. There might not lot be a lot of progression or evolution from album to album, but I'd argue that's a good thing - no need to fix that which isn't broken, after all. I say this because there is very little sense that what you're listening to is recycled, perhaps with the exception of the Nerve Filter 'Dub' remix of "Binary" which is unfortunately underwhelming in comparison to the pulsing album mix. "Fluorescent Skies" is a little more subdued, lacking the floor-filling power of "Binary." The track feels a little weak and lack-luster as a consequence, though that may be simply because of my personal preference for higher-BPM club tracks, such as Failure's "Awake" or Addendum's "Let Me Be Your Armor," over the more melancholy numbers.
Overall, however, the single is a success and will definitely deliver the goods to those already familiar with A23 whilst hopefully introducing new fans to Shear's impressive back-catalog. Samples from Binary are available on the A23 website. If you like what you hear or just want to delve a little deeper into the genre, I'd recommend A23's Failure, Apoptygma Berzerk's Harmonizer and Neuroticfish's Les Chansons Neurotiques. Happy listening, rivetheads.
6.6 / 10
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