Constructed between mid-May and mid-July, producer Onixonst considers “Orpheus/Eurydice”, his most personal album yet. Described as a blend of “analogue tranquility and synthetic madness”, this bewilderingly unique album, will perk your ears in the same ways that the artist’s previous albums did. The cover art is a big tip-off that you’re about to get yourself into something strange, and the track which starts the album, “Orpheus”, goes the extra mile in convincing you that, yes, this is indeed something different. As the repetitive synth couplet rolls around and around in the treble clef, a series of ominous tones are stabbed out at the opposite end. They are too melodramatic for any serious EDM but are also too ominous for any light listening. As the song gathers manic steam, the troubling tones are joined by massive orchestral hits.
“Either/Or” maintains the momentum. Any tones thrown in to simulate melody are underscored by the pressurized doom bass and percussion sound, and it’s a tremendous thing to hear. It’s honestly shocking how much goodness is packed into this disc. “The Rebel” and “Roads Of Dread (Cursed Mind)” both work Onixonst’s primary strengths, with layered synths creating futuristic techno like soundscapes and popping beats giving the songs plenty of varied muscle.
The eclectic sounds and percussive grooves keeps piling on with “Ecce Homo”, which is heavily larded with even more charming synth melodies and some off-kilter pads.
“Souls The Beloved” completely shifts gears and turns into a great piece of exploratory electronica, sounding like a Martian safari. Most appreciated is the instrumental “Castlevania”, which has that mind-blowing, I-think-I’m-on-something feeling, built within its insistent rhythm.
The contrast between turbulent beats and cosmic ambience, comes to the fore potently in “The Lost Ones (Dinah)” and is perfectly refined in “The Night”. The music lurches and meanders, its dramatic, expansive beats cutting through angular diversions into calibrated electronic effects.
The album thrives in the spaces where Onixonst strikes a balance between, starkly juxtaposing disparate tempos and textures. Particularly evident between “Beautiful Days” and “For My Heart Sinketh In Gold”. When the bombastic “Neither/Nor” kicks into a thrumming rave pulse, it feels like a natural progression of the cosmic soundscapes before it.
Onixonst also works skillfully with more jagged patterns, as on the sublimely hypnotic closing track “Eurydice (The Tears We’ve Bled)”, as stabs of high-pitched keys converge with a throbbing low end on a densely layered track where all the moving parts complement rather than work against each other.
It’s a grandiose closing statement and another jarring turn in an album that I believe, elaborates on the tragic, and devastating story of the nymph in Greek mythology, Eurydice – the daughter of Apollo – and her husband, the legendary musician and poet Orpheus. The two were divided in life, and reunited in death.
From the jump, “Orpheus/Eurydice”– with its dazzling panoply of electrifying soundscapes and pulsating rhythms – squarely ensconces itself in that sweet spot between exquisitely frenzied and vibrantly rhythmic. I’m tempted to call this epic work, Onixonst’s crowning achievement…but I know there is still much more to come!