[Reviewed by Peter Marks]
The one I want to know is how X Marks The Pedwalk are going to maintain their low profile after this album is released. After two discs of experimentation and nuanced subtlety, Sevren and Estefania have opted to go back out on the floor and what a majestic return it is! Nine songs designed to worm into your skull and make you dance until you’ve no breath left in you; there are many others lingering on trying to pull off what is being done by our duo and I sincerely hope they’re listening to this.. they might just learn something or at the very least quit embarrassing themselves.
No attempt is made on the part of the band to emulate trends and if there is any thought given to sales it is as an afterthought. This outfit have been around for decades(!) now and have exhibited remarkable staying power given their longevity. As usual, forward motion is the ethos; evolution coupled to such feverish energy as hasn’t been heard out of them in quite some time. I really love it when acts such as this demonstrate just why it is they’re so revered. Legacy secured? That happened years ago, this work is being done because there’s a creative imperative to do so which demands satisfaction.
How easy it would be to just quit caring and let ‘nostalgia’ take over, god knows there’s enough of it to go around these days.
I sincerely hope there’s a live appearance in the works from them as ‘Secrets’ is an extremely powerful offering, the kind you’d expect out of people half their age. Yet there’s nothing juvenile transpiring here, despite seeming minimal this music brandishes remarkable complexity; the first image that came to me was of photographic development in a darkroom with that blank paper revealing it’s content gradually.. until all it’s secrets have been revealed.
“Sacred” is the one lower tempo track on this record and even it barely manages to keep it’s pulse under control. Then there are the ones which are clearly meant to kick your ass like “Photomatique”, “Ghost”, “Breathe” and the insanely catchy “One Time.” How do the hooks keep coming, why are the beats still so effective. By this point, a lot of other musicians would be hobbling by with best-ofs and remix chicanery but not Ni-Arb; is the man one with his machines or what, I’m at a loss to understand fully just where these pieces came from. It’s not hard to tell that they enjoyed making ‘Secrets’, the enthusiasm and sheer bliss cannot be disguised.
This is now the fourth release from them since returning seven (oh would you look at that) years ago and it completely upends everything before; oh don’t go getting too alarmed, the moodiness which has typified their songs as of late remains and if anything has become even more pronounced. I’d wondered how he would keep upping the ante and now I’ve gotten my answer; X Marks The Pedwalk never have been ones for predictability. Year after year, album after album they keep raising the bar, delivering quality without ever letting themselves become complacent.