Best known as the leader and founding member of the British trip-hop group aptly titled “Sneaker Pimps,” London/Berlin based Chris Corner recently released his fourth album since 2004 entitled “The Unified Field” under the moniker IAMX. Produced by Adele and The Arctic Monkey’s producer, Jim Abbiss, the tracks on “The Unified Field” showcase stunning cinematic musical landscapes that are anything but lackluster.
If I had to give a brief explanation to IAMX’s sound, I’d say it has a Phantom of the Opera romanticism, that is laced with the brooding swagger of AFI , and contains the ear for electronic instrumentation of Muse. Corner and Abiss make use of all types of synths, from the danceable thump of side-chained kick drums, dark and penetrating synth brass, and a wide variety of leads and pads. Corner’s tastes gravitate towards the dramatically macabre, and the team of Corner and Abbiss demonstrate complete control over their musical tools in order to adhere to this aesthetic. What strikes me most about the music is how musically cohesive the tracks are. Though widely varied in structure, tempo, and chordal progressions, the songs are all obviously created under the same paradigm and have a similar sensibility. It is very easy to listen to the album from start to finish without feeling jaded of the sound. The album is produced with dead on precision, style, and flow.
The lyrics on this release fully match the gravity of the music. The first lyrics on the album are very disorienting as they are in German (Corner himself relocated from London to Berlin in 2006). This changes quickly as he showcases a mastery of the english language in the rest of “I Come With Knives.” The most powerful lyrical hook comes from the album’s most hauntingly honest and lush “Quiet the Mind”. Corner delivers a standing-ovation worthy vocal performance as he both belts and croons “hold back the melancholy/hold back the fear, darling/it’s a crime.” This is the least “cabaret” track of the bunch, in that it lets go of all of the dramatic flair that pervades the rest of the album. The song is carried through genuinely and straight from the heart, and it would be surprising if this was not seen by many as the “track to beat” on the album.
The music in itself doesn’t necessarily break new ground, but that’s not necessarily the point. The mastery of both the electronic and manual instruments, as well as lyrical prowess make the album an incredibly enjoyable experience front to back.