substanz t has been around for over ten years, and although on the surface the duo (arne stevens and alex lange) went through many stylistic changes, the core of the music remained the same (often reflected in the titles of their releases) - hypnotic, slowly building, enveloping atmospheres built upon deep melodic ambience.
the sound of electric opium is decidedly "lighter," utilizing more pop motifs, becoming something that could be loosely described as "urban electronica." there has been an increasing fascination with the pop genres in the idm/experimental camp as of late (mego, mille plateaux to name a few). perhaps it is the time to bring back to the public (that has finally achieved the necessary level) these experimental "findings." most of these efforts have left me cold, perhaps the reason being the lack of foundation to build on - it is hard to go from somewhat contrived sound manipulation to emotional and immediately attractive music. recent pole's experiments with fat john and even bola/jello man himself still leave much to be desired.
so where does electric opium find us? perhaps in our favorite "reading chair" with a pot of green tea; the lights are dimmed, but you can still make out a heap of leather clothing and steel-toed boots in the background as well as stacks of technoid/post-industrial records; this is where substanz t is finds its roots, the inner energy that serves as a foundation to the music (it is appropriate to mention that fm einheit of einstuerzende neubauten has contributed his theremin and percussion skills on may tracks) - darker sci-fi atmospheres, vast post-industrial landscapes emphasized by heavy broken beats, cold melodies that build along theremin progressions.
this feel of space and depth, a talent for composition and melody can bring out memories of previously mentioned bola's soup, or even dead cities by future sound of london. but instead of taking the paths these musicians decided to pursue after these seminal records, substanz t reminds me of their initial ideas, resulting in the sound that is not only more complex, richer and more emotionally and stylistically varied, but also far more subtle and well-balanced; much easier to enjoy for the causal listener, but also holding a lot of discoveries for the true aesthete.
this album has easily been one of the most addictive records as of late. it is not only bound to appeal to a large audience, but it also sets the standard for the genre itself, a remarkable album that "works" on so many levels.