WikiLeaks operative? U.S. military whistleblower? Twitter user REALLY concerned about Russia’s role in our most recent election and political movements? Then turn the lights off, enough for the brightness of your computer screen to hurt your eyes, prepare yourself to assemble an impressive modern art project entitled “Pile of Empty Mountain Dew Bottles”, and throw on Nodal Point Gang, the newest darkwave record from rogue “Japanese” A.I. low.poly.exception (let it be noted that many have “speculated” due to promotional patterns and notes in the album that low.poly.exception was actually programmed by Philadelphia artist jhm, known primarily for his work as neon shudder).
I use the word “darkwave” to identify this record only as a quick reference of mood, rather than an actual descriptor. While the album can definitely be labeled “darkwave” without betraying any of its values, such a simple term sells the record short. This is not an outrun or horrorsynth record by any means- something that “darkwave” has in modern times become synonymous with, instead of serving as an umbrella term for many brooding, synth driven genres. Even from an ear not super acquainted with classical electronic terms, I can identify several influences and styles that formed Nodal Point Gang. Dark ambient, dark ambient, and dark ambient show their light (or grim lack thereof) VERY predominantly in the record, and from a far listen you can also hear light touches of everything from analog gothic industrial to drum ‘n’ bass. While I have always disliked the pretentious (and more often than not underwhelming) artists who describe their own music as “genre-defying”, low.poly.exception is legitimately pushing boundaries.
That half-experimentation doesn’t only apply to the solid sounds of the record, either. low.poly.exception has produced a genuine post-modern, post-civilization, post-apocalyptic cybersynth record, and while it represents itself with a standard cyberpunk mood and light, it successfully carries a tone and atmosphere serious enough to remove any cheesy thoughts of generic form. Keeping the listener immersed in a cyberpunk landscape without ousting yourself as “average” is very difficult in a period where new cyberpunk synth records pop up on Bandcamp every 4 hours, daily. low.poly.exception has risen above that difficulty.
I’d also like to mention my interest in the concept storyline behind Nodal Point Gang. The Bandcamp page for the record (where you can pre-order it on digital or compact disc to get three tracks before it drops to the public in its entirety on September 22nd) details the following:
“Information wants to be free. In the year 20XX the government has finally managed to obtain full control of the net and all forms of media.The only way to experience them in full privacy is through hacked node points: repurposed servers and systems designed to evade the watchful eye of the powers that be. Creating and maintaining these node points is a dangerous task punishable by a life sentence under current law. The fearless elite that keep data flowing are known as the NODAL POINT GANG.”
It’s definitely fun, serious (an oxymoron, I know, shut up) stuff. I’d read the novel.
I do have a few personal highlights from Nodal Point Gang. The first track, “Warehouse Uplink” is a solid opener that conjures feelings of a Metal Gear Solid start screen. Track two, “Nanocarbon Shrine” is five minutes of bass-y coolness that flows just as atmospherically as the track’s title. “Numinous Courier” is the sixth and “fastest” track on the album. Very intense. That’s followed by “Receding Soul Delay” which is a very gloomy, rainy day of a track. Perfect for watching your android girlfriend ascend to humanhood, or something far beyond it. My absolute favorite on the album, which is now Starred in my library, is the second to last track, track 8, entitled “Construct Fetishism”. “Construct Fetishism” is the answer to the question many come across when they first play with a synthesizer- “What the hell do people actually do with these vocal sounds?” low.poly.exception puts them to very good use. The ending, “Monofilament Array” is one of the most audibly complicated and purposefully glitchy tracks on the album, and I love it. A spectacular use of sound effects emotionally euthanizes the sickness that is the entirety of the record.
All in all, Nodal Point Gang is a highly enjoyable record and a great follow-up to low.poly.exception’s first two EPs. It’s a record I’ll probably find myself listening to again once the new Cyberpunk 2077 video games drops, or when I’m able to finally get a group together for a tabletop game of Cyberpunk 2020- whichever comes first (likely the latter). I’m definitely looking forward to whatever else low.poly.exception plans on releasing into the wilds of cyberspace in the future to come.
Thanks to low.poly.exception for getting the album over to us almost as soon as it was done.