[2nd June 2014]
07. damage points
10. un dernier combat
11. recovery fail!
Whatever The Algorithm‘s mastermind Remi Gallego thought would happen following the release of his Basick Records debut Polymorphic Code in November 2012, it is probably reasonable to assume that to still be touring the globe 18 months later, often with one of the most respected tech-metal drummers in tow, would have been ‘wildest dreams’ territory. Where will second album Octopus4 take him, we wonder?
Polymorphic Code was something of a surprise attack. Even lead single “Trojans” couldn’t fully prepare us for the genre-clashing brainmelt the full album would unleash, to be then pushed to even greater intensity by the live shows. But it is right to point out right from the get-go that Octopus4 does not scale quite the same heights of headfuckery as its predecessor.
To some, this may be a disappointment in itself – but make no mistake, Octopus4 is far from an easy ride.
The development and progression of The Algorithm sound between Polymorphic Code and Octopus4 is comparable to that of The Prodigy between Experience and Music For The Jilted Generation. Some of the more cartoony elements have fallen away, replaced with darker, more foreboding undercurrents and – fundamentally – a more mature, well-rounded sound.
Opening track “autorun” both eases the listener in gently and sets the tone for the album, with a throbbing trance groove breaking about halfway through the track into Remi’s trademark lurching, syncopated synth stabs. The second half also throws its own curveball in the shape of a reverb-drenched guitar line usually favoured by post-rock outfits.
By the time fourth track “will_smith” rolls around, the benefits of this more refined Algorithm sound really start to make their presence felt. Octopus4 is a much more danceable record, with deep grooves following more of the standard tropes for dance music. Of course the glitches, quirky time signatures, frenzied arpeggios and electronica blast beats still have a home here, but they are built into a more readily accessible framework, which could ultimately mean that Octopus4 has a broader spectrum of appeal than just the beard-stroking tech-heads.
Lead single “synthesiz3r” sits around half-way through the album, and marks something of a turning point between the sunnier first half and the darker second, but this is very much a change in overall tone, and moments of light and shade are peppered throughout Octopus4. The chunky guitar samples get a work out in “ピタゴラスPYTHAGORAS“, and “damage points” introduces some breakbeat energy into the mix before a masterly slowing of tempo.
Despite the generally serious, post-apocalyptic flavour to Octopus4, Remi’s mischievous humour can’t help but shine through at various points. Both the intro to “discovery” and the outro of the closing title track showcase the same tongue-in-cheek kitschiness that sees him drop snippets of “Careless Whisper” into his live sets. During “will_smith“, the cacophony halts momentarily for a single cowbell hit, and other little amusements are waiting to be picked out by keen ears.
Adding these tracks to his arsenal, Remi’s live shows should now have the capacity to blur even further the line between gig and nightclub. These tracks are simply begging to be played through a full PA and, should the partnership continue, it will be fascinating to see what Mike Malyan’s drumming would bring to the party – and whatever happens, it will be a party.
The Algorithm could easily have ended up as a little bleepy curiosity on the periphery of the tech-metal scene. Octopus4 shows there is more – much more – to The Algorithm than a synthesizer having a djent-inspired mental breakdown. If Polymorphic Code put Remi on the map, Octopus4 has consolidated his position. In equal measure, it is intelligent and considered as well as surprising, a little bonkers and infused throughout with a sense of fun. If you are looking for a soundtrack to those warm summer nights on the horizon, you probably don’t need to look much further.