[Reviewed by Peter Marks]
For over ten years, Mind.In.A.Box have been bringing us the continuing saga of The Agency versus The Rebels and the fantastical world of the Dreamweb. Now that so many episodes have been released (this makes five), we’re drawn further into the dangerous process of crossing between these places. This music is a soundtrack done to perfection, a dark electronic realm where circuits and cryogenics move in and out of one another and the only place to find refuge is within one’s own mind. Their love of creating multiple characters through the usage of vocal manipulation has become almost seamless, even though it may the same person speaking or singing you share their struggles and triumphs. Although there aren’t many of the latter to be heard here.
‘Memories’ could have easily been called ‘memoirs’; Mr. Black’s specifically. From the start it became apparent to me that both he and the psychotic Mr. White are the same person. One chronicles, the other kills. Mercilessly on both counts. The music which the band have composed to breathe life into such a mentality has been showing hints of humanity to it, as though the songs much like their subjects are beginning to crack under the strain. Their previous record began this process and now this one adds another element to the volatile mixture: minimalism. It’s a stark state of affairs our protagonists have found themselves in, what has it all been for and just when did it become so saturated by nihilism.
This sort of literary device recalls Dr. Jekyll and his alter ego; while by day there is the safety of sanity by night all hell is unleashed. To the audience it is glaringly obvious what’s going on but for poor Mr.Black/White there is no realization.
For their part, the band reveal more range and dexterity in their compositions than ever before. ‘Memories’ is that rarest of creatures: an album which is more than justified by it’s length. Not once have I been bored or felt the need to take it off because everything’s getting too similar. There are nuanced bridges between low and high tempos moments, the mixing and production once more demonstrate just what a lethal dark electro formation they have evolved into. While their side project THYX navigates more retrograde elements and features a pop sheen, Mind.In.A.Box have no time for it. They have a tale to tell and deliciously intricate creations for us to explore for hours on end; a place to become lost in and also one in which to sit back and marvel at such technological feats.
I’ll return to an earlier point, this group have become the definition of musical evolution in their scene. They’re the only ones left who as soon as I finished listening to what they’d just done felt the compulsion to play everything I own by them. Yes yes, some of you other die-hard fans out there are no doubt saying that other stories have been available on the band’s website in their hidden section for years… there are some things one must just hear in the full context, however. While these tales are engaging on paper (indeed some of us have printed them out), with Mind.In.A.Box providing the score everything becomes a palpable meditation on how easily humanity could lose it’s humanity.
Within each of these entries, Markus Hadwiger and Stefan Poiss channel the abject isolation of this modern age.
Here in these towers of concrete and steel and past the clever veneer of sinuous digital escape we are imprisoned. Those teeming masses surging below our eyes in the streets hurriedly rush through the city’s twilight as if they know this all too well… each heartbeat cut off from everyone around them, drifting forever alone in the crowd.