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Title: FiXeR
Artist: Download
Genre: Electronic
Release Date: April 2007
Label: Subconscious Studios


Originally DOWNLOAD was formed around 1994 by Dwayne Goettel and cEvin Key of SKINNY PUPPY but also included Phil Western and Mark Spybey but it always was particularly fluid. The only constant members after Goettel’s death were Western and Key. Their style evolved constantly over the years. Their experimental industrial style featured on the first two releases ‘Furnace’ and ‘Microscopic’ became more accessible on releases like ‘The Eyes of Stanley Paine’ and ‘Sidewinder’. The albums ‘III’ and ‘Effector’ marked a turning point for the project. The sound became more melodic and even more accessible while still retaining their roots. ‘FiXeR’ is the newest output from cEvin Key and Phil Western with contributions by Mark Spybey and Otto von Schirach.


cEvin Key
Phil Western


Track Review

01. bEll ringoor - 5:45
Even with the first sounds leaving the speakers it’s clear that this will be no ordinary track starting right away with a basic rhythm sounding like rubbery springing back to its original after extending it to a certain pint and letting it go then. Even in the early seconds new layers and effects tart to appear. On part of the beat construction is sped up and gets back to normal in almost no time. Alienation is done on them quite a lot, resulting in a completely different sound. A sustained note arises and is smoothly pitched to a higher note and back again. Re-edited speech samples sounding a little bit weird at times fading out of the blue. Meanwhile the sound of the beats ha changed for another time. The song develops further and further and more layers too many to name them all appear. When the track reaches a certain point a multi-layered string section spends atmosphere and depth. In the end the beats are all fading away leaving you with the strings carrying you away

02. Zass Pie - 5:59
A quite strange intro for the next track. It is probably a speech sample used here but manipulated in a way that it’s sometimes hardly recognizable as one. The whole thing is underlined by a kind of noise reminding me a bit of that one coming out of a radio. After about 30 seconds there’s some rhythm entering the game which I can’t describe properly sound-wise, in a way organic and with a metallic and sterile sound at the same time. As usual it doesn’t stay that simple and another layer appears contributing another element to the polyrhythmic section. Glitches - and not few of them - emerge before another punchier element is adding to the beat section. Processed noise starts and stops a few seconds later just to appear again to alternate with a sustained high frequency tone at times wandering from one speaker to another. Small ambient-like atmospheres and melodic synths arise out of the complexity getting more layered and dense with time. In the later course it gets a little noisier and weird and way more complex.

03. Uhm - 5:57
We’re getting started with a melodic line and a sequence already giving the track a little bit rhythm before a light rhythm sequence filled with reversed sounds and samples starts that morphs into a metallic sounding beat arrangement after some seconds. Even though it’s pretty layered and complex, there isn’t much alteration in the rhythmic section for quite a time. This part clearly belongs to the incorporated samples, fragments and melodies in this part of the track sometimes adding a kind of ‘House’ feeling to it, then again a bit more melody and atmosphere. So much is going on impossible to list it all but one thing I have to mention as there’s a change in the rhythmic arrangement that has - if I would need to categorize it - a feeling of a minimal electro track.

04. Krakatoa Pt. 1, 2 and 3 - 8:40
Pt 1 starts out slow but with heavy distortion effects on the drums taking some time to get your ears used to at the beginning but it definitely sounds great. Many atmospheric bits and pieces provide more depth. Then the beat just stops leaving you behind with countless layers providing small melodies and all kinds of sounds even some choirs appear for a short period of time. When the beat sets in again it’s time for part 2. It distinguishes itself clearly from the last part by throwing a whole new polyrhythmic section into the ring .I especially like those percussions built into it giving it an organic and ethnic touch at the same time. Parasitic frequencies and a strange sound that is descended from a pull string toy dinosaur emerge. What an idea to use such a sound in a track. :-) Now it’s getting tougher as the level of complexity increases. I’m not quite sure but I guess the new rhythmic elements sounds much more real than programmed to my ears. The rhythms seem to flow against each other while the sound of a sustained trumped is filling the air. After the chaos slowly and layer by layer disappears, choirs and piano chords spend some melancholy. Part 3 has a completely different approach as it’s almost entirely acoustic with a melody that is played on a hammer dulcimer underlined by melancholic wide synth layers and I even heard the trumpet from before as well as many samples in the background.

05. Neuron Proper - 6:08
Without any gap it goes on with the next one way more complex than usual but overall less chaotic than ‘Krakatoa’ was at times. The track makes a kick-start with some sort of melodic theme that will appear several more times simultaneously followed by the mid-tempo beat and already at the beginning lots of different elements buzz through the sound cosmos of the song. Closely intertwined into this arrangement is a barely audible synth layer. It’s a pad synth sound if I’m not mistaken. Together with a sample of a male chant in a language I don’t understand comes this awesome little sound gadget in the shape of an opera like voice at first male then female. The pitch of it is constantly varying what makes it sound creepy sometimes especially in combination with this synth layers

06. Sorcear - 4:53
A song like a rollercoaster ride. Not that it would go up and down but with all its twists and turns I would most likely compare it to that. It starts quite subdued with a strange sound riff and a low speech sample in the background. The beat starting afterwards is pretty restrained yet but soon unfolds its craziness with some amazing bass effects. Melodic fragments appear just for seconds and alternate with strange wobbly tones. Later in the song becomes more atmospheric with an extended synth layer in the back with variable volume. Sometimes it comes to the fore and the other time it’s barely noticeable. Quite a lot of elements were woven into the sound almost impossible to hear them all at first listen but that makes the whole thing so enthralling doesn’t it?

07. 12 Yearsblows - 4:38
I loved this track right from the start. Those spherical pad sounds give the whole thing a dreamy atmosphere with depth where you can loose yourself in. It is also more a melodic theme or a sequence if you prefer that, that isn’t present the whole time but just arises and disappears from time to time. The beat section sounds somehow like real drums that were sampled, fed into a machine and then re-edited and re-arranged. Speaking of the beat: It is also the connecting element between the first and the second part. The so loved melody disappears and opens the path to the freaky part, where the arrangement is full of glitches and twists tuned with background noises and the like

08. Starving - 4:13
Welcome to ‘Starving’ where a metallic sounding rhythm dominates the first seconds but soon steps in the background and leaves the field to pretty organic arrangement. The metallic sound doesn’t fully disappear to be honest nut isn’t that dominating anymore. Many things happen in the background here. Manipulated and tweaked sounds as well as speech samples of many different kinds like ethnic chants or just weird noises not recognizable at all. Then comes the point when the atmosphere comes into play. You’ll experience the playing with many different layers of atmosphere alternating or interlacing with each other. But the strangest thing in my opinion is those processed ‘thing’ flowing contrary to the beats where it creates a particular feeling when listening to it. 

09. Eruption - 4:46
‘Eruption’ is a word that fits perfectly to the track slowly building up layer by layer. A bass line and a melodic sequence are the intro that lead you further to a slower beat and while the song goes on you’ll notice the before mentioned layers appearing one by one. Some are more sublime than others and some you’ll only discover after some spins but let’s get back to the explanation why ‘Eruption is such a perfect term for it. You more sense than actually hear that something’s brooding under the surface which literally erupts with a harsh break confronting the listener with a much more complex and fractured arrangement full of glitches and speed-ups but just as you got used to it the rhythm changes again to a more punchy variation slowly fading out after a while...

10. Hoorse - 8:05
Right from the start ‘Hoorse’ uses multi-layered atmosphere textures and processed samples soon followed by percussions sped up from time to time. From the background a beat slowly gets into the audible spectrum while another new thing comes to pass. ‘Hoorse’ uses also vocals performed by Mark Spybey with different effects on it. The atmosphere gets notably denser atmosphere-wise as the second pass. It seems like they’re put way more layers into the song that builds up walls of swirling sequences now underlined by a diverse electronic beat in addition to the percussions. The song takes a change as all the elements fade out and a chant appears accentuated by a slower percussion play. The chant adds another ethnic influence to the song .It’s repeated over and over again to unfold an almost hypnotizing power. Comparable to a ritual chant.

Cover Picture


Music: 10
Sound: 10
Extras: -
Total: 10


Many instrumental releases have the problem that the tracks get boring after a certain time. This feeling doesn’t even come up on ‘FiXeR’. You can hear that much work was put into them, that every detail was precisely worked out but it never seems to be forced in any way. The complexity of some songs for example ‘Krakatoa’ is just stunning and goes far beyond everything I’ve heard so far. Another great thing about the release is that it has so much atmosphere. The depth and emotion all those elements create is breathtaking. If you like extremely complex arrangements and dense atmospheres ‘FiXeR’ is the right thing for you. Maybe I should mention that ‘FiXeR’ is available through the website of the Subconscious Studios who also ship overseas.


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