- Over the past year or so, industrial techno has become something of an easy target, particularly for those looking to diagnose the ills of underground dance music. (Hell, even Levon Vincent got in on the action.) In fairness, the critics aren't entirely without merit: waves of young producers have flooded the market with abrasive sounds that claim alliance with EBM and industrial music but often go no deeper than a tossed-off Front 242 or Nitzer Ebb reference.
Adam X, AKA Adam Mitchell, doesn't fall into that category. The Brooklyn native and Sonic Groove co-founder's credentials date back to the earliest days of the New York City rave scene. His exploration of industrial and EBM began in earnest during the early '00s, long before those sounds became fashionable in techno circles. Mitchell relocated to Berlin in the mid-'00s, and in recent years, he's been increasingly active under the ADMX-71 moniker. His project largely eschews throttling techno rhythms, instead delving into downtempo excursions through ambient and industrial soundscapes. Coherent Abstractions is the third ADMX-71 album, and arrives via L.I.E.S., who also released last year's The Redacted Files EP.
Coherent Abstractions quickly sets a bleak tone, as "Virtuality Continuum" opens with what sounds like a possessed dentist drill. The album's entire first half is steeped in dread, although the Drexciyan flourishes of "Arrival Into Uncharted Territory" and the twinkling IDM touches in "Phenomenalist" prove Mitchell isn't entirely indebted to the dark side. Nevertheless, those seeking punishment will hit pay dirt in "Conjectured State"'s ominous plod and the digital overload of "Nearing Obliteration," which includes a sort of monologue from Mitchell. It's followed by the only other vocal number, the churning "Bound & Broken," whose guest appearance by Janina is both seductive and menacing.
Given Mitchell's extensive history, it's no surprise that from a production standpoint the LP is incredibly solid, and a far cry from the amateurism often associated with producers using a similar sound palette. That said, the album shines brightest during its final four tracks, when Mitchell comes away from industrial. "My Theme Song" may include twisting distortion, but the song cruises at 110 BPM, leaning on a simple (and surprisingly catchy) synth melody and birdlike electronic flourishes. The nervy energy of "Anxious Solitude" pairs nicely with its noodling keys, while both "Mystical Ascent" and "MGM_41-85" marry clattering drums with a pleasantly light melodic touch. Adam X may have spent his career exploring the dark underbelly of electronic music, but Coherent Abstractions shows that he'd be well served by sometimes moving into the light.
01. Virtuality Continuum
02. Arrival Into Uncharted Territory
03. Neutralize & Eliminate
05. Conjectured State
06. Nearing Obliteration
07. Bound & Broken feat. Janina
08. My Theme Song
09. Anxious Solitude
10. Mystical Ascent