CD REVIEW: The Unraveling - Everything is Normal
By: Cyrus Rhodes
Artist: The Unraveling
CD: Everything is Normal
Label: Independent Artist
Genre: Tecno, Chill Out, Dub, Electronica, Industrial
Sounds Like: Ace of Base, Garbage, New Order
Technical Grade: 7/10
Weakness: Mixing, Marketability
The Unraveling are Australian-based 3 piece band that just released their latest CD entitled Everything is Normal in 2010. Band members are: Clara (vocals) Dr. Pete *Guitar) & Jono (Keyboards) This music combines a fascinating blend of "Retronica” with a vivid array of colorful melodies, beats & soundscapes.
The CD kicks things off with “Come Undone” an intro piece that sets the stage rather appropriately for this catalogue of music. This first piece explodes in your ears quite like a lemon would explode in your mouth. It has pulsating rhythms, against catchy vocals against a grand mosaic of exotic soundscapes & musical melodies. Track 2 entitled “Pitch Black” serves up a steady bass driven vibe against pulsating melody & vocal layering that can be described as captivating, mesmerizing & infectious. Track 3 “Everything Will Be Alright” explodes into a kaleidoscope of sound with everything from solo guitar, to pulsating keyboard & synthesizer accents, & exotic layers of sound that come at you from all directions. As the CD slowly unfolds I can hear many different musical textures reminiscent of classic Euro techno meshed with electronica & dub out/ chill type musical textures with perhaps a splash of Industrial & power pop. The music is extremely melodic but definitely brings to the table a lot of musical variety & a lot of musical variety & a degree of unpredictability. The Unraveling brings to the table a wide range of instrumentation. You will notice rich musical textures overflowing everywhere - from guitar ambience, sizzling guitar pyrotechnics, driving electronic drums, to exotic saxophone, strings, flute, pulsating bass meshed with synthesizers & impressive piano & keyboard accents. The vocal abilities from Clara fill the sonic space quite well & mesh well with this catalogue of music. The sonic overdubbing is packed to the hilt, & is chopped full of exotic soundscapes that lunge at you from every direction. There's not a dull moment on the entire production. The melodic layering is deep, the sonic ambience is infectious, & the music is from another galaxy. From mesmerizing “Doctor” to hypnotic “Better” to striking “Skylights” this CD has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with “Time Bomb” the perfect finale statement for a CD of this caliber.
The biggest problem with the CD is not the band, not the music, not even the performances - it’s the engineering aspect of it I suspect the Mixing. The mix seems to be somewhat erratic, amateurish, & a bit all over the place. From drums that lack serious bottom end, to obscure sounding harmonies, distorted guitars, awkward instrument & vocal levels – this CD has all the trademarks of a "basement" mix job. It takes skill and engineering savvy to mix a musical production to industry standards these days. . It’s also never a good idea to have someone close to the production mix it. The impact this will have on its overall sound cannot be overstated. I might add the year is 2011so the bar is set really high for independent artists like The Unraveling. Given the talent factor of this band & the scope of the songs, incredible vocals & composition - it’s a bit unfortunate. The Unraveling should consider hiring a professional grace mixer for their next production. I fully realize this is a subjective art form but many of the above issues affect the CD’s overall marketability.
From start to finish Everything is Normal by “The Unraveling” is a solid production. It’s extremely consistent, original, & very melodic. It’s strength - its amazing songwriting, originality, & rich sonic layering. Make no bones about it these are 3 talented composers & performers. When the ride is over you will be dazzled by its originality, overwhelmed by its mystery, & mesmerized by it’s amazing diversity.