Mega Sebon post today, guys. Hope you enjoy despite the total lack of timeliness! Just pretend the EP came out more recently.
Zach Bridier, more commonly known as Electromatic (hmm... sounding familiar?) and, more recently, Sebon, has really gone all-out with the first EP he's done under his new name. With long-existing demos in their final forms sharing space with totally new tracks, the Greater Nightmare EP flows much like an album and pulls you in right from the powerful, chilling start.
The introduction, "Enter In..." began life as the intro to a mixtape Zach made as Electromatic. It hasn't changed much in its final form, save for the fact that it now holds two separate channels of backmasked messages (which, according to Zach, are lines from "Death of A Salesman" that he was using for a report). These make it even more haunting, though I'm still glad to have the early instrumental version.
Sebon - Enter In... [right click to download]
The end of "Enter In..." builds up in a whooshing climax, which immediately explodes into the next track, "Liminality". This is one of Zach's more aggressive works, with some great synth-guitar work paired with samples from Anberlin's "Paperthin Hymn". The word "Liminality" is a portmanteau of "Liminal", or pertaining to sides of a boundary (normally that of consciousness, as in "Subliminal") and "Reality", which you should all know the meaning of. The lyrics of this banger (yes, lyrics) have similar subject matter, being about a virtual reality now more real than the actual one (guess what... you're currently part of it! Get out of the computer chair and do something!). Which brings me to my one qualm about the song: the instrumentation is great and the vocals are surprisingly well-done, but they don't mesh well. It's not that they contradict, but there's an issue in mastering that simply makes the vocals sound very weak in comparison to the aggressive instrumental. They sound so quiet that they almost come across as unprofessional, somewhat dragging down the lyrical section (note to Zach if you're reading this: I'd gladly put up a remastered version as an alternative if you'd be so kind as to make one).
Sebon ft. Unknown Vocalist - Liminality [right click to download]
The next track was first revealed to us alongside previously-posted "Epic Fail" and Zach's remix of Genesis' "That's All" on his MySpace player. The deceptively innocent-sounding "Thinking of You, Again" begins with a swooping symphonic chord, then bursts out with vengeful fury with some sampled guitars into an Electro-Metal rocker. Containing samples from, of all things, a Christian Rock song ("Daddy Never Cried", if you care to know), it featured heavily chopped vocals and plenty of headbang opportunities. The added kick the drums got in the final version didn't majorly alter the track, but certainly helped a great deal when it comes to making it a headbanger. The breakdown starting at 1:17 is simply incredible. Overall, this will probably be the track with the most replay value.
Sebon - Thinking of You, Again [right click to download]
Next is one of the more interesting tracks on the EP. Symphony No. 909 has a complicated history, including a failed single release, an apparently excellent "Part 1.5" live counterpart which was never recorded but appears briefly as the song's outro, and a Louis La Roche-esque incident where a demo version was believed to be a new Justice track (by quite a few people, apparently). Based mostly around a sample from the introduction to Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, along with some elements which appear later in the composition, it's similar in some ways to "Thinking Of You Again", albeit more stylistic as a result of the difference in samples. A toe-tapper rather than a headbanger, you're still probably going to love it. If you don't, just go for the more straightforward demo version.
Sebon - Symphony No. 909 [right click to download]
Let me start on "Streetlights" by saying that I absolutely love it. It's my favorite song on the EP, and it certainly ranks up among Zach's best works (including all his material as Electromatic). Its title is fitting, because the song captures that ethereal, otherworldly, and somewhat dark feeling that (for me anyway) streetlights embody. They're the personification of everything that scares and excites us about the nighttime, and Zach captures that perfectly here. Beginning somewhat straightforward melodically with the introduction of the backing bass, the song flies into something captivating with the main melody, alien in its dissonance and so effervescent, so mysterious in quality that it's just amazing. If Zach ever does another live show, this song is the ultimate set-closer. Just picture the song slowing down to a halt, the main melody repeating its last note over and over until it just gloriously burns out. Wonderful.
Sebon - Streetlights [right click to download]
The clever title track had it hard. There was simply no way it could compare to something as brilliant as "Streetlights", so in a way it didn't try. We first heard it in brief glimpses on MySpace, where it looked like it was shaping up to be something great. That's what I expected from it when I finally got to hear it in full on the EP: greatness. What I didn't know was how much it had changed since I first got to hear it as a work-in-progress. The elements that supported the track as a demo were now backing components, while in the foreground was a mischievous main synth and some goofy horror samples ("OoOoooooooOOOoooooo"). In its own way I suppose it's good as a humorous celebration of spookiness, but I'd rather have had the banger I was expecting (fortunately I still got it, as you'll see below).
Sebon - Greater Nightmare [right click to download]
If "Greater Nightmare" was a disappointment, then "White Sand" must have been Zach's way of adding insult to injury. As the only track on the EP I hadn't heard in some form beforehand, I didn't know what to expect, but there certainly seemed to be a lot of evidence pointing to it being a quality track. How can you go wrong with a nine-minute song with such a good name? Apparently it's possible. The track's length is not the epic nine minutes I was hoping for but a mere three, and the track itself was a variation on the vocoder used in a live broadcast version of "Symphony No. 909" backed by a sample from "Stayin' Alive" by the Bee Gees. Fun, to be sure, but not really a good track. Then about a minute of silence followed by the even more sparse "Access Denied" (which was, humorously, cited in the liner notes as a hidden track). I can only assume it's a preview of or tribute to "The Vault Of Complete Misunderstanding", a planned Electromatic release whose fate is now unknown. It doesn't work very well as either and certainly doesn't keep your attention for the time it's allotted. Certainly a disappointment as the closer to an otherwise good EP.
Sebon - White Sand / Access Denied [right click to download]
Because I don't want to end such a great EP on a bad note because of one song (or is it two?), I've given you a little bonus: the drastically different demo version of the title track. It emphasizes the menace of the melody, and removes most of the mischief of the final version to create a track that's excellent in its own right, rather than as a sleek reference to old horror movies.
Sebon - Greater Nightmare (Old Demo) [right click to download]
Satisfied with the review and sorry that it took so long,
P.S.: Zach, hope you get to read this before you go to Jamaica. If not, I hope you had a good time!