I find myself being rude but can’t help it.
He’s come back from the kitchen with more wine and my thumbs move as quickly as one bottle down will allow, hurriedly taking note of the conversation highlights. There are many. Philosophical musings bounce around like a coked out game of pong in my brain, intermingling with political discussion, movie quotes and the awesomeness of wine. I get enough shorthand into my phone to feel satisfied and gladly take another glass. It’s probably been upwards of three hours, noted only by the kink in my back from the wooden folding chair.
The front porch hang out is one of many talks with Michael that have left me inspired and mentally stretched. His intellectuality is, to me, the foundation of his music. With that first hand experience, this review will doubtlessly be more insightful and complex by nature. And as the music itself parallels that mosaic and multi-faceted makeup, it’s a happy coincidence that I offer. That being said, as a cold hearted Viking, I offer no rose colored bias. I am simply a well-equipped listener stepping into Socionic‘s ‘Identity.’
The album consists of five songs that aptly interrogate the ‘Identity’ of its writer, also offering a mirror with which to dig into your own. There is no surface discussion here. As the album art suggests, you’re tearing layers of the conscious from the get go. Whether it be throwing ignorance in the face of an idiot or juxtaposing our own light and dark, the well crafted lyrics allow for reading on and between the lines.
Michael, the writer, singer and often times instrumentalist, needed to get this off his chest. He did it his way, with most of the help coming from his own Identity. While at times I’d like to see what someone like Sylvia Massy could do for him, these five songs are almost exactly a 1:1 from Michael’s brain to your ear.
My two favorite tracks are Ignorant Idiot and Prodigal. That could say something about me, but hey, I decided to go down the rabbits hole. From the outset, Ignorant Idiot comes in with a disdainful tone. The intro is shorter and gets right into making a sharp point. The sarcasm is palpable – knowing him to be a calm man, this cathartic release is a welcome one. It’s a solid blend of Tool and NIN, his inspiration from both filtering through evenly. The industrial patches add tasteful layers without being distracting, allowing you to push through, ending with a hard cut that demands a second listen.
In the chorus of this song and parts of other songs, I do wish there were fewer effects on the vocals. I want to hear lines like “I want to feel alive” or the push of “deeper” and “farther” in Stain Serenity right up in my face – I want to feel like he’s right there, screaming at me, so that I can follow it. I want it to erupt as it bursts into that realization or the harsh denial of that depth and distance. I want to feel that “relief come pouring, rushing across my skin.” A simple change like that can push dynamics into peaks and valleys, taking the listener on an even more intense ride and making it harder for me to decide which songs I like more 🙂
Prodigal is the one I would start the record with. The intro draws you in with sharp guitar hits and a heavy bass riff. The premise is right up my alley – discussing the mind numbing and brain washing clutches of organized religion. The grating line of “you’re only what we let you be” stings with the cut of experience. It’s that perfect blend of personal narrative and hard lined suggestion: look at me; look at you – this is what I think ; what do you think.As with the other songs again, I’d like to get more of Michael without effects. There’s intensity there that is too easily blanketed by vocal processing.
Aisa Morta and Epiphany are introspective and searching. Aisa Morta opens the record with an ethereal beginning, showcasing Michael’s ability to juxtapose unique and ambient textures with heavier sounds. Epiphany has a solid hook, “I’ve waited for so long” that pushes you to examine what you’re waiting for. I wish there was more of it – more of that melody to grab a hold of and see me through.
At times in the record, the dynamics are cut short. There is pensive exploration and sprinkled screams but the hammer doesn’t fall as often as it could given his obvious emotional investment. It’s not just a matter of screaming more or adding double bass. It’s peeling back another layer, letting those well written and sculpted lyrics breathe. Push me, pull me. Slam me down only to pick me back up again, schizophrenically dusting me off before doing it all over again. It’s in there – I wouldn’t suggest it if it weren’t.
There’s an undeniably solid and intriguing foundation here. Even before I knew Michael personally, I was drawn in by the words and vibe of his music. And now that I do know him personally, I know the spark that would blaze the flame he’s created here. Kinda like how you bounce ideas off of someone, sitting on the porch, allowing an initial mention grow into a fucking phenomenal idea – I would love to see how the identity of this project, this band, would grow with well placed production.
As a friend and as a fan, I can suggest this foray into Michael’s ‘Identity.’ You won’t be sorry you peered into the abyss. It’s a musical medley of juxtapositions, musings, interrogations, perceptions, arguments – both internal and external, introductions, release and gain. Particularly in LA, five songs won’t give you this complete of an introduction, not just to a band, but to ideas, both musical and mental. So, cozy up to that fire in the abyss – I have a feeling it’ll only get hotter the further Socionic goes 🙂