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August 25, 2011

Unitary – “Safe from Harm” – Viva Music Album Review

Unitary is a narrative composed of order and disorder, longing with endurance and the dreams of imaginary bliss in an age of conformity.” (source)

Tracklist:  “Cold” * “Calm” * “Renitent” * “Aria” * “Clarity” * “Zenith” * “Repair” * “Closer Apart” * “Travesty” * “Woven Heart” * “Der Perfekte Traum” * “No SignalMixed by: Walter Baecklin; Music, words, mixed and recorded by: Johan Hansson; recorded by: Daniel Soedeberg

About Unitary:

Unitary is the brainchild of Johan Hansson coming all the way from Uppsala/Sweden. Unitary is a narrative composed of order and disorder, longing with endurance and the dreams of imaginary bliss in an age of conformity. After bands such as Covenant, Cat Rapes Dog or recently Necro Facility, Sweden proves once more that it’s the leading country for innovative alternative electronic pop music! After a first compilation appearance on „Infacted Compilation #1” and the vocal guest appearance alongside Frozen Plasma on the song “Ebb and Flow“, Unitary present their first official studio album under the seal “Safe From Harm“! A sound mixture in between early Covenant and modern influences of bands such as Assemblage 23, Frozen Plasma, or Diorama. Twelve masterpieces on one album far away from today’s uninspired electro hear-a-likes! Innovative electronic pop music with an edge!

Unitary – “Safe from Harm” – Viva Music Album Review:

After a first album released in 2003, “Second to None” with Off Label Productions, Unitary is back in 2011 with the album “Safe from Harm” with Infacted Recordings. While the whole creative process behind the album’s mastermind, Johan Hansson, is laid out in the open, the major merit of not becoming artificial in the process. With a very quiet tectonics of sound, but with erupting vocal lava beneath, “Safe from Harm” is a good listening recommendation of 2011, and one we would like to see develop in a multifaceted manner in the future.

Unitary means one, and this trite statement is however necessary in order to remind of one of the major merits of the album – as a one-man enterprise, it is really astonishing. With all due respect to all trained ears, the album could easily sound as the endeavor not of one, but many. However, it is true that today’s technology, put into the right hands, can make a band from just one person – and from this perspective, Unitary stands for something we want to see replicas of in many genres.

The intriguing start of the album, “Cold”, is a dynamic, alarming piece of electronic music set against a quite intimate discourse. If “Cold” gets you in the mood for anything, it is only good deeds that it prompts you to do. An aspect worth noticing from the very beginning of this track, the urban emergency situation it brings to mind, is also present on the next piece, “Calm”, which could easily do for a soundtrack for an action movie, a suspense-ridden romance, or an absurd cinema d’art movie. There is nothing apparently calm in “Calm”, but this probably serves as a reminder of the degree of stress we are up against while trying to keep calm in the contemporary world. As contemporary seems to be “Renitent”, again a song that showcases endurance and advances at a very alert pace, and falls into the dancefloor category of the album’s fine herbarium.

Aria” is a panoramic piece, adding up the chime of bells to schoolyard recess and a pining that finds its truthful expression in Johan Hansson’s meditative voice. And with “Clarity” up next, the almost religious feeling it ignites in the listener builds up a myriad of tiny explosions between the temples and sends shivers down the spine – an emotion becoming physical with the advance of the song. “Zenith” and “Repair” form a very cohesive couplet, which render true the affiliations one can see with other – incidentally Swedish – acts, such as Covenant or Necro Facility. Their tempo is just right, their melodies follow skidding patterns and groovy loops, and the vocal stamp of Hansson is the last puzzle piece one needed in order to get two dynamic and fully-fledged songs.

Closer Apart” is a song that one definitely needs to fall in love with; granted, this will not always happen on first listening to the track, but it’s bound to happen, while “Travesty”, the sound of which is in itself a direction to follow alone in a new album or side project, conquers through its definite edge and charms with its dialogic nature. The emotional construct of “Woven Heart” is as convincing and we could barely resist the temptation of not listening to it several times on a loop (and finally said what the… and did not resist it at all). The only non-English titled track of the album, “Der Perfekte Traum” (“The Perfect Dream”) is fashioned against yarn of the same strength and color; while the final rendition of “No Signal” caps up the good work of the album with discreet, but incisive Unitary trademarks.

Unitary’s “Safe from Harm” is an album one needs to listen to; be it for mending a broken heart, overcoming panic, or finding inner peace. It is a multilateral album, and reaches out with sufficient force and seals a solid deal with the listener. Not so much an album for crowds, but one that goes just fine with headphones, “Safe from Harm” keeps the promise it sets in its title, and protects the listener in a very fraternal way. Listen to it!

Unitary – Official Website | on Facebook | Discography on Discogs

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