Counterfeit I


(Self-released CD)

MARK: 79/100

New one-man band from the suburbs of one of the toughest cities where to reside in the USA (Chicago). Unfortunately the booklet doesn't supply much information, but we are brought to guess this is his first release, whereas the track titles suggest it is a concept album.

Electro/Experimental Rock with real guitars and a drum machine, starting from the lessons of NIN, adding the irruence of Rap/Punk Rock vocals, as in "The Smokestacks and the Noose", "Perfume Trigger", or additional hypnotic vocals and sinister keys lines, as in "Closed Casket", decidedly one of the best arranged compositions of the album.
An instrumental track such as "Capacitance" sounds very 80's, pretty Art Of Noise-influenced to be precise, with a touch of Kraftwerk, and I mean it in a positive way.
A lot of emotions were risen by "Evenire", whose piano lines and vocals did touch my soul, while the dissonant rest pleasantly kicks and scratches as if Rage Against The Machine were jamming with Linkin Park, while "Melancholy" takes a false step in the first boring half part; the remaining 2 minutes turn to be more interesting, but the ideas ought to have been better developed.
Thanks to the deep EBM beats and the sick vocals of "Lethe" things seem to improve radically, and the crippled break and most of all the Fear Factory-like structure are definitely a plus to the song's economy.
Nothing special is conveyed by "The Age of Machines", whereas "The Cycle" draws from the best of Atari Teenage Riot and this time it does it with masterly skill. Killer is the riff and so is the programming!
Similarly to "So Alone", "Last Hope" is another intro, with the difference that this time an acoustic slightly-distorted guitar riff is the main character unlike the keyboards.
"Resistor" would be a cheap track if it weren't for the talent of the composer, able to make it interesting with weird noises, guitar brushes and even a Godflesh-reminiscent structure; a magic and twisted programming is the icy on the cake.
Over 7 minutes of shrieking, charming and atmospherical sounds render "The Silhouette Anthem" one of the record's highlights; trust me: it takes fervid imagination to create a track like this and the dreamy vocals accompanying the pulsating beats and the frantic programming are all but easy to put together so that they do not clash with each other. I also appreciate the Howard Jonesesque vocals connecting the magic of the 80s with the disillusion and the desperation of the new millennium.
Chosen to conclude this platter, "Our Last Breath" does all its best to ape NIN in the opening, yet soon it takes other directions; unfortunately both the mesmerizing and the angry vocals leave something to be desired, so this is one of those tracks that make me wish for a new mixing or mastering in future.

It's a pity we have a self-release before us, as the recording is good in at least 10 tracks, while other 4 would have needed more elaborated mixing care, especially as regards the keyboards, turning out too fuzzy during some passages.
It is vital to stress out the honest atttitude off of Derek Allen, who is rightfully not scared to show what goes on in his creative mind and has the balls to show it without fear of being mocked or badly criticized. There's place and time to work on a more professional come-back, but the traced path is for sure the right one.


Line-up on this record:
Derek Allen - v., g., keyboards and programming

Wheaton, IL - USA

Official sites:

-Circuitry (CD - 2009)
-Transistor (EP - 2010)