The Focus

Absurd Minds

Dancing Ferret Discs, 2005

REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer


Monotonous albums are a scourge on music. Repetition of one single idea (however great) throughout a whole album doesn't really make for an interesting listening. This especially holds true for the genre of techno (and its various progenies), which is doomed to be cursed with monotony; techno records thrive on "the one song" from which the whole record is cloned.

Such is the fate of The Focus, an album by German industrial-techno act Absurd Minds, which is condemned to be repetitive and hence deploringly boring. But, strangely, its monotony is not quite the same as one would expect of an album of this nature.

Absurd Minds, in the league of similar bands like Project Pitchfork and VNV Nation, is a part of the generation of techno inspired by the manliness of industrial music, minus the guitars and the gore. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 The Focus, built on the same foundation, is full of tough beats, menacing synths, and vocals that rasp. Add to this the coerced positivism of techno, and it yields tracks that are uptempo but still finding themselves in the cocoon of industrial gloom. Moreover, give it the urgency and punch of punk rock, and the tracks turn out racy, catchy, and succinct; The Focus is a punk album for techno zealots.

In what is such an elegantly-crafted dance record, monotony rears its ugly self as the album unfolds, with the tracks sharing a similar tone, a similar beat, and a similar pulse; and all the cuts find themselves heading in the same direction. However, here's where the genius of Absurd Minds shines, and takes the album to a zenith that is seen in techno records, only few and far between. While traditional club records tend to be for the musically-ignorant party-goer who doesn't care what's being played as long as it serves the booty-shaking purpose, The Focus is meant for the more serious listener, and in general has been musically very well thought of.

Although the tracks tend to head the same way, they are built on dissimilar chemistries, and possess subtle textural variations that strongly characterize each of them. The album kickoff "Essence" is a synth powerhouse with a charged-up 80s pop chorus that's as anthemic as it is instantly addictive. More racy and club-like, "Captivated," "Doors," and "The Focus" have the feel of the early electronica movement, whereas "A Stride Through Time," "Body," and "Crucifixion" have a more melodic 90s Euro-techno appeal. "Self-Imposed" and "My Search" sound like something out of the 80's Sisters Of Mercy Goth-punk scene sans the guitars.

The Focus is nothing less than a brilliant dance record and one of the best techno albums ever made. The fact that all of its tracks share a few common traits is only a bane of the genre. Every punk rock album ever released (even the greatest ones) is burdened with the same curse; blame it on the genre. Forgiving the monotony is only a minor price to pay for what the record rewards with: a nice little package of explosive dance music that's abundant in style and substance. This is techno like you've never heard before.

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2006 Vish Iyer and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Dancing Ferret Discs, and is used for informational purposes only.