Beauty (Intro) * Sever * The Stranger (Vanity Mix) * Code Black * Aesthetics (Vanity Mix) * Faceless (Vanity Mix) * Hemmorhage * Speak No More * Hit The Nerve * Agony (Outro)
Before reviewing the album, a signage caught our eye on the SURGYN website: “items are guaranteed to hide up to 90 percent of all hideous human flaws”. This line, referring to merch from the SURGYN shop, surely makes sense if you think of a hoodie that is branded with one of the band’s taglines, such as “fake what you lack”, but it also makes like total sense when applied to each of the songs (i.e. items) from their debut album “Vanity”. Released on an ominous Friday the 13th just less than a week ago as a digital download (and with a forthcoming physical disc release to be announced), SURGYN’s first album creates quite a vanity case with their medispeak inspired industrial music. Between the intro “Beauty” and the outro “Agony”, what is showcased is a world that is adamant to attaining beauty via processes of deconstruction and reconstruction again.
The beauty of “Beauty”, the intro track of the album resides in the stinging vital signs it gives to the entire album: a medical procedure is about to be performed on the listener and while it is one that defaces and recreates physical contour and appearance, it also shapes up for great beats and very creative sound foundries.
“Sever” comes up next with a feeling of being at a loss with the world. Introducing asymmetrical patterns as a starting point of the medical process to be enacted throughout the album, this track and its chopping beats rhythmically resize the body and give it the care it needs before going to phase two of SURGYN’s intimate surgery. While monitor/defibrillator sounds are not new to the world of either electronica or industrial music, SURGYN make them topical, and reassembles them into the body of the album like warning signs. The slick “The Stranger [Vanity Mix]” ensues, ushering in Sovereign’s voice mashed up on a very danceable edge; making their statement “SURGYN are set to surgically reconstruct the face of electronic music” not only true, but also a promise kept.
The pulsating beats keep on accumulating via the next track, “Code Black”, a DNR kind of musical ecstasy, as well as on “Aesthetics [Vanity Mix]”, taking the surgical process further limb by limb and trait by trait, and adding to it a Pygmalion inspired creed, that of being fully intent on creating beautiful things and notwithstanding one’s tireless search of perfection, of turning wrong. As if defacing is the answer to the cats’ cradle of flaws, “Faceless” talks about deconstructing the face in a prosthetic process. If face is repository of singularity and emotion, then it has to be perfect.
“Hemorrhage” is as danceable as the previous tracks, and its play on affliction, schism, separation recalibrates identity – both of the assumed patient from the album, and of the band as well. A very martial “Speak No More” and the pulsus alarmans of “Hit the Nerve” stitch up the masterwork before the album’s outro.
While there is nothing peaceful in “Vanity”, and it is a good example of an album that keeps one on edge, it excels in coherence and makes up for a great memorable dancefloor album, and one of the rare releases so far in 2011 that push the volume up and tune the beat right.
Surgyn’s website: http://www.surgyn.co.uk/