Biomass: Energy

Some synthesizer-based albums pulsate; others churn. Biometrax's debut release, Energy, an hour-long and aptly titled collection issued by Walter Douglas (aka Walter ovtha woodz) under the Biomass alias, is definitely in the latter category. The album is a multi-dimensional explosion of radioactive electrosonics that arrives two decades after Douglas initiated his Biomass audio experiments in Los Angeles, California.

The initial tracks, the overture “Soar Acido” and “Serpent Sphinx,” initiate the deeper plunge taken by the album as it develops, with the subsequent tracks growing longer and even more uncompromising in their furious attack. Initially “Phaseloc” more percolates than pulsates, and there's even a dub-like quality in the ricocheting effects that briefly appear but that all changes when they're washed away by a massive bank of churning synthesizer patterns. A techno heart beats at the locomotive center of “Aquapolar” though you'll have to listen hard to detect it beneath the pummeling storms of synthetic fire that thrash throughout its ten-minute running time. Despite the ultra-modern glow of the music's sleek surfaces, there's a tribal character at work too, specifically in the rhythms that push the material forward at such a breakneck pace, and it's here where the industrial dimension of the Biomass equation resides. That tribal element emerges a number of times but never more so than during the closing “Minechamber,” which at first suggests it might be twenty-two minutes of cavernous and reverb-drenched dark ambient until a pounding drum pattern surfaces five minutes in to help propel the material forward. The piece comes across like the accompaniment to some violent ritual of the kind it's probably best not to know more about.

One thing one won't find a whole lot of is dynamic contrast within a given piece. Once the overall character of the track in question is established, it pretty much stays the course for the duration. Listening to “Serpentetraspeed,” for example, is akin to being strapped into an autopiloted shuttle that moves hellaciously at light speed for eight non-stop minutes, with the volume and intensity levels never flagging. Call Energy trance music, then, of a particularly uncompromising and steamrolling kind that is probably best experienced either via a high-quality set of headphones or at peak volume in one's home on a high-end stereo system.

November 2011