without a doubt, this is one of the most anticipated releases of the year. I was almost afraid to listen to it for the first time (however downloading some tracks from converter website before the official release date spoiled the surprise), knowing that it would be impossible to repeat the success that "shock front" was. and I was right, "blast furnace" is definitely not equally as unique, unexpected and unforgettable as "shock front" was.
having said that, and hopefully calmed down some of the hype, I will state that "blast furnace" is a damn good album and definitely gets into my top 10 for this year (and that is no surprise). on "blast furnace" scott's fascination with pure rhythmic side of the genre is quite obvious. having recently played concerts with synapscape and imminent, and worked on hypnoskull/converter mixes, converter presents his version of rhythm'n'noise on "blast furnace."
majority of the tracks on the disk are powered by driving rhythms still retaining complexity and controlled chaos of converter as we know it. tracks throughout the disk acquired distinct boundaries and analogous structure, making the whole release more radio/concert friendly - one of the changes that made it possible to compare converter to its peers, as opposed to "shock front" that existed in the genre of its own.
my favorites on cd include "flower" that is full of merciless dominating percussion that lashes, crushes, advances and explodes into the audience with saturated abrasive pulses. it goes from almost reset-like persistence overlaid with corroded sweeps and crunchy beats, to sonar-sounding viciousness, where monotonous drive is twisted and transformed with layers of static, compressed percussion and almost technoid passages.
"death time" picks up the pace with incredible mix of pulsating technoid madness, disturbed techno-beats, broken, dislocated, deformed and overcharged sounds, haunted by distorted voice of nightmare from "soul calibur". this track would undeniably work great live, especially with the closing heavy-punching barrage of compressed beats.
a few other saturated rhythmic assaults include opening "error" that steadily plows through the mass of twisted splinters; following "blast furnace" adds corroded synths and myriads of cut-up distorted noises that add incredible variety and richness to the track; "itami (two)" is a wonderful combination of monstrous broken beats and heavy crunchy percussion mixed with nicely processed vocal samples.
a nice departure from the established pattern is "be broken" - menacing atmospheric track with sparse explosions on top of slowly moving corroded mass. caustic strings, echoing atonal noises, fading modulated frequencies add to the building mystery.
one of the most impressive moments were last few minutes of "resolution," the track that at first didn't seem to go anywhere, but towards the end developed an incredible mix of distant cut-up japanese instrument backed by abrasive beats and rich strings. unexpectedly dramatic, organic and mysterious, these few minutes took me by surprise, presenting a side of converter I never expected. mysterious monumental nature of the track immerses you in its depths; the combination of technoid elements, dark atmosphere, exotic touches result in a rich, solid mix, that reminded me of recently reviewed "delta files."
"red crystal" deserves mentioning as converter's venture into the world of japanoise and power electronics. waves of corroded static, beatless feedback attacks, clashing layers of saturated analog chaos - the track has a struture and certain direction that is absent from majority of the bands in the genre. crushing explosions escalate towards the end, abruptly disappearing.
"blast furnace" is a great work, full of wonderfully unique and fresh sonic treats; its sounds are contagious and filled with energy and impulse that surpasses any of the peers in the genre. converter once again amazes me with his ability to create clean (no matter how strange it sounds speaking of rhythm'n'noise) soundscapes, where all elements and layers are carefully controlled.
at this time converter manages to incorporate and transform a large number of outside influences into one explosive mix that once again sets converter aside from similar artists, proving his ability to create truly unique, standard-setting music.