cyc|er will flip your perception of analogue hardware and electronic software working together, an experience only Overrider could deliver.
Release date: May 15, 2020 | Independent | Bandcamp
It can sometimes feel like electronic and analogue music exist in two different worlds – non-compatible, non-compromised. But that’s simply not true, and I’m very happy to review a band today that could change this perspective. Overrider, with their cool cyberpunk name, is a duo hailing from Manchester combining futuristic electronic production, snotty punk, and noise rock into a wonderful hybrid. Their record cyc|er is probably most deserving of the title of literal cyberpunk.
cyc|er begins with “[sky ladder]”, a track that immediately stands out for its ease of bridging the gap between electronic and analog technology. Starting with a heavy synth kick that could very well be a sample of the famous TR-808 kick drum (which is heavily used in electronic and hip hop music), they lean heavily into the synthetic side of things. A guitar sneaks into the opening of the track, albeit barely noticeable; its subtle tremolo-picking seemingly dissipates into a huge discordant swarm of grains. Some may notice that in the background, a lo-fi, distorted guitar is playing in tandem with the ‘grain cloud’, again breathing some life into this digital soundscape. The end of the track finally gives way to the fully distorted power chords of the instrument, a satisfying climax for this very opener.
While moving through the rest of this record, one starts to notice a pattern with how the songs are structured: usually a heavy, jarring, and sometimes industrial-sounding track is followed by a more ambient, post-rock inspired one. “cyc|er” is built as a somewhat in-between track, while the follow-up “agitated_|” belongs to the harder category, aggressively building on the climax of its predecessor. While this leaves time to breathe and provides a nice change of atmosphere from track to track, it does lead to predictability.
This is somewhat offset by the use of different electronic elements that introduce a myriad of different modulation techniques. “the |eft hand”, for example, shines with gorgeous sampling, glitchy melodies, and a shrill shimmer floating above the track. This track clearly takes inspiration from downtempo and could draw some similarities to UK legends Massive Attack.
One of the standout tracks for me was “black_hatch”, combining multiple aspects of previous songs. It has the well-incorporated sampling of “the |eft hand” in its intro, Overrider essentially using the same vocals like a nod to their own works, which I found pretty clever. Furthermore, it uses the glitch techniques that sway from synth to guitar almost seamlessly, making the kaleidoscopic nature of their music stand out more. Lastly, it delivers yet another epic climax, though this time we are blessed with a full-on distorted wall of sound as well as a beautiful clearing of these pompous clouds in the form of a stunning piano outro.
This amalgamation of stylistic choices the album incorporated on the way to one of its final tracks feels satisfying. In a way, it feels like the artist has pulled us into his studio and showed us the complete production from start to finish in little references sprinkled throughout cyc|er. While the finished record may have its flaws with its repetitive structure, somewhat murky production, and a mountain of stylistic choices to cycle through, it feels complete even in its not fully developed state. There’s a certain charm to it, like Overrider made this as a huge improvisation session and just selected the best parts to be used on the record. I applaud this level of organic development and sense of experimentation, even if a choice made out of curiosity might not yield a favorable result. I hope that Overrider refine their already impressive ideas and adventurous approaches for their next release.
Oh, and also: I find the stylistic choice for your song titles nice, but please keep my poor fingers in mind next time you use underscores so liberally. Thanks in advance!