Mechanica Monsoon,
Fall into a Pill
(Emperor Penguin, 2002)

Lead vocalist Stephen Taylor claims to have been dead for centuries, having returned only to form the band Mechanica Monsoon. From the sound of Fall into a Pill, he is not happy to be back. Every song is a grim, desperate look at a mechanized world with almost as much culture shock as you'd expect from a reanimated corpse.

From the opening crash of "In This Place," Mechanica Monsoon strikes the perfect balance of austere and melodramatic. Taylor delivers the overwrought lyrics in a detached, robotic voice that lends psychotic air to the simplest statements of emotion. The lyrics are deep enough to bear listening to, though sometimes verging on the pretentious. "Skin Machine" presents stark images of cyberpunk horror that still pale next to the eeriness of the soft "Dream of Angels." Michael Render's guitars and synth work set the mood for these voyages into the rhythmically grim, skulking between the hypnotic "Blue Noise" and the jarring "I Must Breathe." Those who complain that all electronica sounds the same will find welcome variety in these tracks. Though the mood moves only from suicidal to homicidal, the arrangements utilize inspiration from video games to R&B beats, making each piece identifiable by its first notes. The synth effects, like the whining drill of "New Disease," are always part of the song, never intrusive, but add a great deal of depth that more restrained musical styles might not be able to deliver.

The only downside to Mechanica Monsoon is that they apparently don't exist anymore. Fall into a Pill seems to have been their only album, and the Emperor Penguin website lists them as defunct and gives no forwarding address. Perhaps they disbanded, perhaps Taylor returned to the cold embrace of the grave. It's still worth checking out the website to see the sickly bright CD art. The screaming yellow lemons are hard to miss; if they should offend your eye in the racks of your local music shop, take the chance to pick up this haunting collection.

- Rambles
written by Sarah Meador
published 27 September 2003

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