[Reviewed by Peter Marks]
As a taster for his upcoming new album “Sun”, Chris Gurney gives us some new tracks to parse through in order to alleviate the wait. Curious tracks they are, too, this isn’t the same band I first heard on “Reflect”. For one thing, he’s giving greater emphasis to actually singing on the lead song ‘Rising Sky’ which is a nicely appointed mid-tempo composition. His appreciation for solitude and trying to maintain balance in this world are on full display, the precision he executes this song with is testament to how much he’s improved as a songwriter in the span of just a few months. Knowing how to end a piece is where the measure of ability is shown.
‘Stardust’ lowers the shades and is an aching ode to someone this guy holds dear, I’m not privy to whom, but they’ll no doubt sit up to take notice when they hear him softly singing (yet again!) “You’re the answer to my questions, you’re the reason my sun will rise, you’re the path to my ascension, you’re the stardust in my skies..” the man has hope everyone, earnestly burning optimism. This alone makes what he does stand out easily from the torrent of rubbish that a person’s ears are inundated by in the electro-industrial world. And no, this isn’t over the top cheese designed to melt chubby goth girl’s hearts on a dance floor like VNV Nation, IIOIOIOII do not have the cynicism.
Each song on here has been exactingly chosen, probably from a massive pile of demos and then agonizingly worked into the finished products you hear on “Rising Sky”. ‘Could Have Been’ is the kind of dark electronic track I love to play through again and again. In a manner similar to Index AI, Chris keeps his words minimal yet effective, thus allowing the crescendos of sound to crash over you. You’ll come away from what you’re listening to in a reflective mood, which is the central core to what he’s doing and has done all along. This band are designed to make you think, they’re not disposable nor is what he’s doing crudely thrown together.
It seems only fitting to close this EP with a song drawn from his back catalog (oh stop snickering), the mercurial and raw ‘Good Night’. Now he could have continued to make tracks like this easily, I suppose that kind of mindset is why so many fall to the wayside and bitterly snipe online about how they could have been someone… they would have done it differently, as though their own egos aren’t to blame. All the possibilities of technology but no, let’s chase trends. Give us more of what the rest sound like. Solidarity through stagnation.
IIOIOIOII have chosen to change direction because surely he knows nothing but irrelevancy awaits down the well-trod path. This isn’t the radical change Mentallo enacted on “Burnt Beyond Recognition” but it is definitely an indication of things to come. This fourth song is indeed well-named, but it’s not some kind of nihilistic kiss-off nor is it a juvenile tactic designed to gain attention, Gurney is closing this particular chapter in his musical career and pressing forward into more creative pastures.