Scott Walker's follow up to 2001's Estramay Aleph debut sees the Englishman step up on all fronts. The production, songwriting and presentation are all improved. Tracks reside firmly at extremes of the EBM spectrum. They're either beat and sequencer driven tracks aimed squarely at filling club dancefloors, like Rebirth (the lyrics of which provide the album with its title), or they're eerie, instrumental film soundtrack pieces like opener Quarantine.
Cryonica, as the home of Inertia is, stylistically speaking, the ideal label for the Void Construct sound, and anyone who is a fan of Inertia shouldn't hesitate to pick this up. If one were being fussy, I'd say that some of the instrument samples could be more original and the song structures could be a bit more unpredictable, but the whole thing blends far more effortlessly than the debut album. Here, Walker's fondness for trance and industrial genres, for example, are nicely worked together. Expect to hear plenty of this in clubs around the land. 6/10
"Estramay Aleph" (Album, 2001)
After a handful of live appearances, Scott Walker's (that's the name of a music star if ever I've heard one) virtually solo project Void Construct have produced this, their debut album. The piano that opens the album (on Chemical Burn) suggest a more unpredictable journey than the one that is ultimately delivered, But it and many other touches throughout these eleven songs indicate that an interesting imagination at work behind this English duo. What follows however is formulaic if efficient hard EBM in the Suicide Commando vein but with disinctly trance-like leanings. The results sound as if Walker is as much influenced by the trance and techno scenes as he is the European dark electro/industrial genre. Estramay Aleph presses all the expected buttons, but largely fails to distinguish itself from its bigger, more established compatriots.
The distorted vocals are no more than perfunctory, and once most of the (mainly high BPM) songs lock onto their target there's little room for deviation from their aim. A couple of tracks do offer us some 'down time'. Darren Arronofsky's Pi can be heard in Estramay Aleph - a terrific composition worthy of providing the album with its title. But on the whole the song tempos are fast and structures are simplistic and predictable. This is a shame as it is often the more subtle backing elements that pique ones interest. Void Construct's most powerful weapon is their punishingly hard seqencer patterns. The drums, incidentally, are often not the main driving force, and merely support the sequencer lines. It might be a good idea to try and distill the trance influences further so that they have a more dominant role.
Still, Walker is already planning to release a second album later this year. Perhaps Estramay Aleph was merely a way for him to clear out his musical cupboard. Let's hope the newer material is more eloquent because, clearly, Walker does have some interesting musical ideas. He just hasn't yet found the right voice. 5/10
Official Void Construct website: http://www.voidconstruct.com