"Drop The Mask" (Album, 2010)
A varied and variable club friendly bunch of EBM/electro songs from this Rome-based duo that when operating at its very best warrants parallels with some of Portion Control's recent, more dance-orientated forays. When it isn't, it can be a bit by-the-numbers.
XP8 use the subterfuge of four-to-the-floor and higher-end BPMs to fill your ears with some quality sounds and to subliminally programme your brain with insights whilst your feet stomp. But the latter half of the album unravels somewhat. The previously attained quality threshold flexes and several sub-standard tracks slip through. This does undermine the overall impression but, this being the digital age, some judicious programming/editing of the running order strips back the (too many) thirteen tracks into a far more convincing suite of beat-driven cuts. And, at its heart, there's definitely a solid core. If this were on a major label they'd have no problem selecting several singles, so don't be surprised to discover you've already been dancing along to choice songs at your local club or festival.
Unlike many of their peers, instead of relying on a single vocal style, XP8 utilise a wide range of approaches. Scorpio Eyes reminds me of Robert Enforsen and Elegant Machinery, Born Dead gives a nod to Suicide Commando; whilst the vocals on One True God are strikingly similar at times to Dean Piavani of Portion Control. Meanwhile, Daniel Graves of Aesthetic Perfection guests on Want It (also released as a single). Oddly, the titular Drop The Mask is, vocally speaking, one of the lesser entries. In spite of its sometimes wavering standards, there are enough reliable beats, hooklines and well-chosen synth pad sounds to mean many songs here will go down a storm in a club context. And for that reason alone, any industrial/electro scene DJ would be wise to keep a copy of this in his kit bag. 7/10
Rob Dyer (June 2010)
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