Dark Synthpop: The fourth full-length album from Fiction
8 is an intriguing mix of goth, EBM, and a healthy dose of new wave
influences. But what sets Fiction 8 apart from the like-minded artists
is their savvy for writing memorable pop songs that happen to be
drenched in electronics. With Forever, Neverafter, the band shows
a diverse range of styles seamlessly transitioning from the industrial
rock romp of "Winter Rain" to the bouncy synthpop of "Stranger
in My Skin" or even the dreamy electro of "The Dark Room."
On the 80s techno pop of "Around and Around," swelling
synths and puncturing rhythms are perfectly complemented by Mardi
Salazar's cool, unaffected vocals, making it one of the disc's best
offerings. However, it is on "Nothing More" where Fiction
8 comes into their own as they effortlessly bring together the smooth
electronics of modern synthpop with a touch of old-school EBM, sounding
as if they're channeling classic Nitzer Ebb thanks to the shared
vocal duties of Michael Smith and Steven Hart. On Forever, Neverafter,
Fiction 8's musical growth continues as the band's strong pop sensibilities
are pushed into the forefront. - Brian Lumauig, Outburn,
This is without doubt Fiction 8's most consistent & successful release
to date. The trio of Mardi Salazar, Steven Hart, and Michael Smith
have really jelled on this second album together (there are two
earlier ones with a different line-up). They present a collection
of strong, emotional, and instantly memorable songs that you'll
keep coming back to time and time again. The press releases I've
seen seem keen to emphasise the "pop" part of the band's music but
in reality, they also encompass harder electro & even rock musics,
but with an easily identifiable sound topped off with top class
songwriting throughout. The often beefy rhythms do nothing to detract
from this album's strong emotional touches with the palpable sense
of loss that marks the opening "Too Late" being nicely complimented
by Salazar's richly touching vocals on the haunting "The Dark Room,"
and the faster "Around and Around" while Hart's soaring, rock-styled
vocals add a nicely gritty feel to the excellent "Nothing More."
One Kelly Bearden does the honours on the reflective closer "Winding
Down" while "Save Me From Myself" is reminiscent of some of Gary
Numan's mid-90s works (without the "deserate for radio airplay"
feel, of course!) If I was to have one teensy weensy complaint it's
that the sequencing on "Forgive Me" sounds uncannily similar to
that on "Let Go" from the previous 'Chaotica' album (it would be
a shame if they started to repeat themselves), but really this is
just a miniscule gripe which, at the end of the day, does nothing
to detract from the enjoyment of this superb album. --Carl Jenkinson,
Forever, Neverafter is one of those confused albums that can't
quite decide what genre it belongs to, yet offer up one great hook-laced
song after another regardless of stylistic preference. Male and
female vocals trade lead from track to track, melding with strong
industrial, goth, and electro hybrid compositions to form instantly
addictive pieces. Fiction 8 have in one hand created an album almost
impossible to dislike, while in the other they are responsible for
many a song that I couldn¹t purge from my head all day. --Daryl
First of all, I must say Fiction 8 has grown tremendously since
their last release "Chaotica". The time Fiction 8 took to reflect
on where they were headed musically really shows on "Forever Neverafter".
Their sound has gotten much tighter as a band and Michael's song
writing abilities are stronger than ever. It shows through especially
in the tracks "Stranger In My Skin", "Crash", "Around and Around"
and "Nothing More". These songs in particular include very catchy
choruses and offers us good hooks which in the long run will enable
them to become instant club hits. "Stranger In My Skin" has already
become an immediate house hold name since being debuted on "DJ Lucien's,
The Domain" a weekly college radio show. The remaining seven tracks
on this disc should by no means be over looked. For one thing Fiction
8 has definitely not strayed away from their electro style that
their fans have become accustom to from them. If given the opportunity
to purchase this CD do so, unless you are deaf you will not be disappointed.---Kim
Mercil, NYC Industrial
A Different Drum
As a follow-up to the band's popular "Chaotica" album, Fiction 8
now presents a new set of solid songs played in their edgy synthpop
style. There are upbeat, danceable songs, but also down-tempo melancholy
tracks. There's also an occasional mix of guitar on a couple of
the tracks, and there are nice female vocals that come into play
on a couple of songs as well. The album is a mix of several different
styles and approaches, going from modern futurepop to electronic
rock, definitely making a sound Fiction 8 can call their own. ---Todd
Fiction 8 is a band I'm mostly familiar with through their remix
work, so when Kristy of Nilaihah included a copy of their 4th album
with a order of mine, I was intrigued, as I had enjoyed the track
"Winding Down" from the State Of Synthpop 2003 compilation.
The album finds the band further exploring their dark pop sound,
on their fourth album, but second album for Nilaihah records.
At times, the songs presented here brought to mind a similar feel
to The Cruxshadows' material, only not quite so dependant on lyrical
imagery (i.e., references to Egyptian ancient gods and culture)
to create that goth-esque atmosphere. Instead, the band uses the
vocals and emotion in the music to create a dark, brooding feel.
"Too Late" launches the album in excellent fashion, with
a very strong chorus hook and the vocal delivery here is just perfect
for the song. However, the following couple of tracks don't really
measure up to that high standard. It's not that they're bad songs...
they just aren't as memorable. However, "Forgive Me" is
well up to that standard, and is another excellent song.. very much
single-worthy, I can see this and "Too Late" both getting
a good amount of dancefloor play. "Stranger In My Skin"
has some really cool synth effects and sounds in the intro, and
lives up to the promise of it's intro.. It's a really cool track,
and yet another impressive song.
Overall, while not each and every song floored me here, there's
still plenty of very impressive material here. Fiction 8 have obviously
taken a lot of time to develop their production skills, as this
album sounds nearly perfect. Fans of darker Electropop such as Psyche
and "The Crypt"-era Red Flag should definitely give this
band a listen. Recommended! ---Jason Bakert, Synthpop.net
Out on December 9th, Fiction 8's new full lenght 11 track CD "Forever,
Neverafter", is a well balanced compromise between ebm-dance
and synth-pop. The trio throws male and female vocal pop hooks into
a melange of synth-electro with some darker and harsher parts here
and there. I personally prefer the songs with the female vocals,
because for some reaons they sound less corny and darker... There
is also a violin helping out here and there. It's dark pop song
with dancefloor-friendly beats for all of those of wanna dance to
it but don't wanna give the melody and would rather do without the
angry distorted ebm vocals. ---Marc Urselli-Schärer, Chain
After the release of the popular album Chaotica it has been a long
wait for something new from these talented artists. This latest
work from them continues on where the previous left off, building
on the moving and catchy rhythms and hooks to create a more mature
and dynamic sound. From the first listen many of the tracks caught
my attention with their solid foundation making this entire album
more enjoyable as a whole from start to finish.
"Too Late" starts off this album with a nice intro of
various instruments and noises that builds up to a very solid track
which is a great intro and one of my favorites for this album. Michael's
solid vocals are accented by morphing synths and other catchy hooks.
This is a template of the solid performance and material presented
here. This solid sound of emotional electronic music with a gothic
edge manages to permeate several tracks that really catch my ear
like "Catch" with a number of solid layers and moving
beat. "Forgive Me" is another that is like a book out
of the popular Fiction 8 tracks, with many similarities to the club
hit "Let Go" from Chaotica. I think this is a real plus
because the similarities there remind you of something that the
listener is familiar with, kind of like seeing an old friend again,
but enjoying the new changes that come with time.
Michael gives up the lead vocals on several tracks including Mardi's
smooth vocals on "The Dark Room" with it's mid-tempo
beats and "Around and Around" picking up the pace but
losing nothing with female-fronted vocals. Steven takes up the lead
on "Save Me From Myself" and sings alongside Michael on
"Nothing More". This variety is also a nice touch keeping
the album from drifting into any kind of monotony.
With this dynamic album this group has reached new heights, combining
the smooth electronics with the darker-edged gothic sound in the
form of various guitars, synths and a solid beat which gives the
lyrics a stronger meaning as they permeate the air. A solid example
of this dynamic talent and mixing is brought forth in the most stellar
track on this album "Stranger in My Skin". The synth loops
are solid and the percussion comes in almost bombastic, but definitely
moving and creating a dance atmosphere that's hard to beat.
But it's not all about how club-friendly a track is, but simply
how it all comes together from the instruments, beat, vocals and
background sounds. I think this is a perfect example of how genre
boundaries are crossed to create an excellent and powerful sound.
This album captures this almost to perfection with little lacking
for fans of this and other Electro-Goth groups. Rating: 4.5/5 ---Jacob
Music Non Stop
Following their debut album "Chaotica" US based duo Fiction 8 offer
a finely crafted new album, "Forever, Neverafter", [which] delivers
an outstanding mixture of dark themed futuristic electro-pop packed
with dark catchy melodies, killer basslines and excellent vocals.
Superb arrangements and distinctive songwriting single this release
out - for fans Depeche Mode, The Cure and Wolfsheim. Recommended.
Harsh yet haunting in an almost familiar way, Fiction 8 is to
industrial dance what The Cure was to the goth scene. Amazingly
they reach this plateau (although I'm sure they're ready for more
upward moves) with only four releases under their belt. What most
people new to the industrial dance or darkwave scenes don't realize
is that much of this music is well-rooted in pop music. This is
evidenced clearly by songs like "Crash", which opens with a thumping
club beat and melody line to die for only to dive into a synth line
that seems to scream of '80's influence. Much like Kraftwerk influenced
a whole new generation of musicians, Fiction 8 is poised to take
those reins over for the coming generations of synth pop rockers.
Toronto industrial Koillective
Here I am listening to the new Fiction 8 release, Forever, Neverafter
wondering how an album of this quality is stuck in our underrated
little underground genre. If it were the 80s, this release would
surely be top 40 beside the likings of Depeche Mode and The Cure.
No doubt in my mind.Every song on this album is a gem. Jacob Bogedahl
of Gothic Paradise says, "This solid sound of emotional electronic
music with a gothic edge" and that sums it up well. Smother.net
says that "Fiction 8 is to industrial dance what The Cure was
to the goth scene" but I would replace "industrial dance"
with "today's goth scene" and "the goth scene"
with "the 80s goth scene".
The songs are indeed reminiscent of some of the bands of the 80s
that we grew up with. For example, Nothing More is very "Depeche
Mode meets Nitzer Ebb". Band member Michael Smith names "The
Church" as one of his favourites, and this influence is clearly
audible as well in the sombre quality of many of his songs. However,
the band does maintain its own key sound, as well, in tracks such
as Forgive Me, which sounds very similar to the hit Let Go from
the band's last release, Chaotica.This release also has great
emotional depth and maturity. There is a sad, nostalgic element
to most of the songs which is complemented by the rich vocals. All
three members take turns on lead vocals, and each is exceptional,
creating another layer to the album: one of using vocals as an additional
instrument. With such variety, it is indeed difficult to pick a
favourite track, although I do tend to lean towards Crash, sung
by Michael Smith, and The Dark Room, sung by Mardi Salazar.
Who will like Forever, Neverafter? It took me a few listens to
get into this album and appreciate it for what it is. "Industrial"
it is not. Band member Michael says this about the release: "Our
stuff was always a little too melodic and clean-sounding to be accepted
by the hardcore rivetheads and I suppose we've also mellowed a little
with age ... enough so that these days we're considered electro-pop
more than anything." (Electric Diary interview by Thomas Tröger)
I concur. -- Morgana, Toronto
These days synthpop acts seem to come a dime a dozen. Lots of bands
with marginal amounts of talent, but no real vision jump on the
band wagon of the electronic pop sound that has been tried and true
for many years and is a proven money maker. With the market being
flooded by so much cloned music, it forces much more established
acts go above and beyond the mundane to challenge the listeners
to expand from the ordinary and come to a new level. Fiction 8,
who are no rookies in this industry, come back to the buffet that
is the music industry and this time they are serving up a healthy
dose of harmonic and catchy tunes that recharge the stagnant sound
of synthpop. Their fourth album, titled "Forever, Neverafter,"
is a pleasure to listen to, as the tracks are all very impressive
in their upbeat musical sound and harmony. The 11-track album has
a good flow to it as each track has been fitted in the right place
to create a natural progression of one track into the next. Each
track on its own offers something worthy of mentioning. One element
of these tracks that really struck me was the female vocals that
were not only used to create harmony in the chorus, but also were
utilized as the lead vocals. Violinist, bassist and vocalist Mardi
"Paisli" Salazar is the owner of these enchanting vocals. Salazar
showcases her harmonic talents on "Around and Around," which she
delivers in a voice that is smooth enough to give the feeling of
sensuality, but also kind of rough in that hot sexy goth chick way.
Mmmm, mmmm. Erm, anyway I digress. The music to this track fits
her vocals perfectly and the track is a joy to listen to. The album
has a very dancable vibe to it, but this vibe is upped tenfold on
"Nothing More." This track has a much more industrial feel to it
as the synth programming is faster and more erratic and electric
guitars are used to enhance the gruff vocals. This track does not
sound anything like the last six tracks as it is almost as if it
were written and performed by a different band. Remember what I
said about raising the bar of synthpop music. Well, consider it
raised. The mixture of both genres of industrial and synthpop, each
being showcased pretty much exclusively depending on what track
you are listening to, is an ingenious way to keep the listener guessing
where this album is going next. The versatility of Fiction 8 is
clear in this 11-track masterpiece. Each track is varied so much
from the last that the album doesn't have one single moment of staleness.
I am glad that Fiction 8 have come out with something so different
and interesting. This one will be in my CD changer for quite some
time. - Pitchfork, Re>gen
Gothic Beauty Magazine
A somewhat lengthy 3 years since their release, Chaotica, Fiction 8 pops up
with a new, even more developed sound on Forever, Neverafter. It must be said
that Fiction 8 has done what I wish I heard more in newer music: they've successfully
incorporated organic instruments such as violins into tracks without over-exaggeration.
Check out "The Dark Room", a perfect example of the effective blending.
Especially of note is the wide range of emotion and sound on this album. These songs are
all equally potent, yet varied and progressive enough to keep the listener's attention.
"Nothing More", "Save Me From Myself", and "Winding Down"
are highlight tracks. Variety is the spice of life, and if its what you're looking
for in an album, you may want to check this one out.
5/5 stars -- Reviewed by Jessika Hulse for Gothic Beauty Magazine
Wrapped In Wire
Fiction 8 return with their follow-up to Chaotica.
They continue with a similar sound on this album, but with a slightly
What I like about Fiction 8 is they create a sound
unique to them. When you hear Fiction 8, you know it's
them and not some other band. This is mainly due to the singing of Michael
Smith. He has a distinct voice all his own with a somewhat deep raspy
tone. The music isn't typical for the genre, either. The electronic
programming, beats and melodies blend an industrial, EBM, darkwave,
rock and pop sound that is serious and upbeat. The addition of guitars
is a nice touch as well. Mardi Salazar adds even more to the Fiction
8 sound with her singing. She shines on the songs "The
Dark Room" and "Around and Around".
This album offers a lot of variety with some songs standing out a lot
more than others. Most of the tracks are quite catchy, but there are
few that just aren't very exciting. My favorite songs are "Too Late",
"Crash", "The Dark Room", "Around and Around",
"Forgive Me", "Nothing More", "Stranger in My
Skin" and "Winding Down". I don't like the songs "Winter
Rain", "Save Me From Myself", and "Silent".
It was a bad decision to put the boring instrumental "Silent"
before the song "Winding Down". "Silent" would have
worked as a closing song, but nowhere else. Having Steven Hart sing
instead of Michael Smith on the song "Save Me From Myself"
was another bad decision. Steven Hart isn't a bad singer, but he's not
nearly as appealing as Michael Smith.
This is a good album that could have been better if some different choices
were made. While there's some catchy songs here, nothing comes close
to being as addicting as "Let Go" from their Chaotica
album. Also, there's a few tracks here that just aren't very good. I
liked Chaotica more than this album. While
this is a good album, it lacks any really memorable songs.
Reviewed by Darklight for Wrapped In Wire
Lullaby Pit Best CDs of 2003
This would be a top-ten pick without question, but I can't even pretend to objectivity
because I co-wrote two of the songs on the disc. Still, I can say this about Forever,
Neverafter. On one level it's a break-up record, with all the angst and anxiety that
entails (especially in a darkpop context). But it's also a getting-over-it record,
one that acknowledges the importance of friends in the recovery process. Finally,
it's a CD that engages some interesting questions about data, artificial life, and
the secret life of art in a digital, file-sharing world. Forever, Neverafter is perhaps
the richest, most complex and nuanced CD Fiction 8 has released to date, and it will
be interesting to see what comes next for a band that has been through so much over
the past couple years. Oh, yeah, and the tunes rock!
by Sam Smith - Lullaby Pit
Interview with Fiction 8
back to Fiction 8 - Forever, Neverafter
Okay folks, here is a scenario for you! If "Clan of Xymox" were
to elope with "Skinny Puppy" their offspring would be "Fiction 8".
With their distinct mesh of dark synthpop and electro industrial
style, "Fiction 8" latest release "Chaotica" has burst onto the
scene and into various gothic/industrial clubs. The track "Let Go"
is a big goth hit while "It's Over Now" is making waves with the
industrial crowd. That is the real beauty of this band, the fact
they are not limited to only one genera. Another driving force of
"Fiction 8" is the wonderfully creative lyrics which are vocalized
with such emotion and power by front man Michael Smith and tying
it all together are Mardi Salazar and Steven Hart. "Chaotica" marks
the third full length album for this band and it starts you off
with a two and a half minute instrumental titled "Chaotica", that
slowly sets you up for what lies ahead on the rest of the disc.
Twelve more perfectly constructed tracks of pounding rhythms and
pulsating beats that seems to stick to you like crazy glue after
only one listen. There is not one utterly bad track on this disc
and if I had to pick a favorite track it would take me days on end
to figure it out. The bonuses on this cd are the last three songs
on the disc "Nothing Undone Remix", "Isolation Remix" and "Stasis
Minimal Mix". Any hard core fan of dark electronica music needs
to add this cd to your collection. You can purchase "Chaotica" at
www.nilaihah.com and for more info on "Fiction 8" you can visit
them on the web at www.fiction8.com. . -- (Kim Mercil) of Albion Batcave
Nilaihah's newest signing, Fiction 8 are being called the best-kept
secret in the world of electro music, and an aggressive marketing
campaign may very well make this statement true. Chaotica is a vibrant
collage of uptempo harmonies, heavy electro beats and layers of
pop hooks and melodies; all of which conspire to make this album
infect the memories of all that hear it. A short instrumental, Chaotica,
opens the album and then the infectious Let Go (from the Resistor
compilation) sets things in motion with a purely danceable pace
and layers of hooks and a solid vocal delivery. Fiction 8 take a
heavier turn on Sister Illusion, providing some lethal beat structures
and determined aggression before breaking into a full-out electropop
assault of racing synths, pummeling sequencers and matching vocals
from Michael Smith. The trio possesses a violin player, who is very
accomplished and gives true character to the liquid-like Stasis;
the band would do well to take greater advantage of her stringed
talents over the entire album; however, Stasis remains one of Chaotica's
best moments. Mardi Salazar, the violinist (also bass, keyboards,
percussion) tackles lead vocals on Somnabule, a perfect balance
of goth rock and heavy electronic pop. It's the narrow territories
between genres which Fiction 8 dwell so comfortably in. Involved
and top-heavy percussion sets the band apart from atypical synthpop,
and a shadowy texture hangs dramatically over each track, though
the upbeat energetic nature is never lost. Without the pop hooks,
Fiction 8 could be in the same category as God Module, and without
the heavy beats and thick programming, they'd be just another synthpop
band. Chaotica is an impressive feat of style combining into a perfectly
realised and accomplished whole. Apart from the obvious mixing of
styles, the most notable element of F8 is their incredibly complex,
detailed and rich programming abilities. The depth and traits of
the trio's skills not only make the genre mixing successful and
engaging, but provides layers of sound, effects and textures to
get lost in and discover after repeat listening, something not many
bands are capable of. There are two remixes from earlier releases;
Nothing Undone, which throbs with a simpler, darker beat than the
rest of Chaotica, and the airily pretty Isolation, which is complete
synthpop. A remix of Stasis pours on watery electronics and effects,
while sounding nice, is a bit lacking, though the violin works very
well against the desolate reverberating synthesizer backdrop. These
three remixes may show a wider reach for F8, and as such aren't
as focused, which proves when the band's attention is direct and
intent, they produce some truly excellent work. Fiction 8 may not
be the next big thing, but they are a great band with more promise
than many of today's electro successes. -- (Phosphor) of Electroage
The year 2000 definitely belonged to Fiction 8. The band erupted
from the underground and left an indelible impression upon our psyche,
thanks to their song inclusion of "Let Go," featured on the Resistor
compilation from Nilaihah records. This song ignited a fiery international
interest, which had fans and DJ's expeditiously seeking out information
and other music from this "new" band.
Fiction 8 is not an overnight success story by any means. According
to their press release, the band had initially formed in 1993, lead
by Michael Smith, also founder of the group. This American band
initially unveiled their sound in Europe and had enjoyed a bit of
success rendered from numerous compilation appearances. This attention
ultimately garnered them their first full album release in 1996,
Dissonance*InDifference from Discorida Records (Germany), which
almost assured that an imminent breakthrough was just around the
corner. The glad tidings were foreshortened however, as everything
came to a grinding halt. Discordia folded later that year, leaving
the band tied up with a legal contract with no actual physical company
representing them. Their follow up release, Spirits, hoped to garner
the momentum they had previously achieved but they soon discovered
another harsh reality of the music world. A two-year stagnation
and complication arose due to the aforementioned contractual problems,
which prevented this work from receiving the proper attention it
merited upon its initial release. It wasn't until 1999 when Spirits
was released on the Trisol/Matrix Cube (Germany) label that the
band found the ability to find a sense of relief from these entanglements.
During the interim of the CD releases, the band had regrouped to
include Steve Hart and later Mardi "Paisli" Salazar, both of whom
had brought a whole new creative and stabilizing influence to the
Thankfully, the folks over at Nilaihah ingeniously signed them up
and brought their music to the American shores for a domestic pressing.
Fiction 8 released Chaotica, which heralded many accolades from
the underground music world, both in the States and abroad. As of
this writing, it is not uncommon, to hear any number of Fiction
8 songs on the internet or college radio shows as well as in clubs
across the country. Most recently, while driving down a highway,
someone was blasting Let Go from their car and I couldn't help but
smile for the group's success.
The style is still within the EBM/Industrial/Darkwave realm and
is meant to unleash a torrent of sweaty bodies on a club dance floor.
The band proudly struts their stuff, displaying a multitude of talent
that is part dance, part head music and pure talent to make you
want to move.
The disc itself opens with the title track, "Chaotica," a blend
of noise and electronic percussive effects meant to invite us in
to this world of nihilistic upheaval. The name itself implies a
harmonization of the erotic through chaos, represented by the multitude
of noises and samples that are intermingled with the temperate resonation.
The title track segues into the now infamous "Let Go," and we obligingly
release ourselves for the next hour or so. The remainder of the
disc has a collection of highly dance infectious songs of varying
rhythms, chorus and chord inflections which many DJ beat mixers
will find to be a pure delight. Fiction 8 seem to fall between the
cracks of what could be classified as a goth/industrial crossover,
yet they also maintain a very dark electronic pop appeal.
Most of the vocals are rather subdued in a wash of compression;
however, it must be pointed out that Salazar delivers an excellent
turn as lead vocalist on the song Somnabule. She grasps the body
of the lyrics and weaves them around the cybernetic cadences and
effects, clearly owning every moment of it. Her support as backup
vocalist also tends to render a sense of warmth and symmetry to
the music, bringing it beyond a mere electronic dance song. One
can only hope that she is featured as lead on a few more songs in
the future as well.
Fiction 8 has arrived and deservedly so. After paying their dues
for the past 8 years, it is heartwarming to see that their persistence
and talent has enabled them to be positioned at the forefront of
the dark underground music scene. With the success this band is
already generating, the doors have opened a bit wider to embrace
other artists who are making dark music that is not necessarily
goth or industrial. It may only be a matter of time before the rest
of the world discovers the great artistry that has been buried beneath
the cloak of night of the underground aficionados. --(Michael Ventarola)
Music Non Stop
The most common mistake made when classifying Fiction 8 is to assume
that their music is some brand of electro-industrial-goth crossover.
Some might drop them in with Girls Under Glass, while others might
consider them to be a more melodic version of old school Leaether
Strip. And while Fiction 8 would certainly credit the influence
of bands such as Skinny Puppy and Recoil, the fact remains that
at the very core, Fiction 8 is a pop band - a very DARK pop band.
Their songs are at once both visceral and catchy. Their beats pound
hard enough to keep even the most fickle dancefloor moving, while
their lyrical hooks are sharp enough to torment listeners for days.
And through all of this, Fiction 8 retains a suffering edge that
is reminiscent of even DEPECHE MODE. Perhaps it is because of these
ingredients that Fiction 8 has managed to quietly attract such a
large and diverse following. Their music is immediately familiar,
yet strangely fresh and contemporary. Now Fiction 8 offer up their
3rd and strongest disc to date: ''Chaotica''. -- Music Non Stop
Dark electro for the future...
This band has just totally amazed me, and it takes a lot to get
me to admit that about an electronic band, but ever since hearing
"Let Go" on the Resistor comp, I have been curious
at to what they are all about. Imagine if Depeche Mode had Douglas
McCarthy from Nitzer Ebb on vocals, and were a bit darker and sinister...
that would be Fiction 8. The whole new CD is just fucking fantastic!
"Sister Illusion" will probably be the next big dancefloor
hit, with its driving electro beat and brooding angry vocals...
"Set you free" is more downbeat, but a wonderful song that
showcases their melodic flair, and wonderful use of harmonized vocals
? that's what sets this band apart from most other electro acts,
is their innate sense for melody and the fact that this guy (band
founder Michael Smith) can actually sing! The dark beauty of the
instrumental "Stasis" just shows off their diversity, with
exquisite violin work provided by Mardi, who also contributes a
nice vocal turn on "Somnabule", yet another potential dancefloor
hit. Fiction 8 is by far the most melodic dark synth pop I have
ever heard, and this is a CD that outshines almost everything else
I have heard this year. Not having this CD in your collection should
be a crime! -- Gary Thrasher, writer for OUTBURN magazine.
Excerpts of this review can be found in the #14 issue of OUTBURN
January 2001 After two brilliant albums released in Europe, America's
Fiction 8 eventually found a domestic label in Nilaihah
Records to release their 3rd full length CD. "Chaotica" brings
the band several steps higher with the maturity of its melodies
and its groovier and more danceable approach of electronic arrangements.
Evolving from a rather dark and creeping debut "Dissonance InDifference"
and a calmer slightly guitary "Spirits", this new opus still features
those wonderful choruses Fiction 8 are famous for, with Mike's highly
expressive and alluring vocals, a great sense of melody and a soul
hiding in the back of every track with a beautiful shimmering darkness.
Fiction 8 polished their rhythmics on this new album, which gives
it a more compact and dynamic shape. Also the synthetic bleeps have
more attack and reinforce the latent energy of these talented artists.
"Chaotica" is bringing us some 10 new tracks with highlights with
the ultimate hit "Let Go" that was already featured on some comps
here and there, but also the stronger "Sister Illusion", the catchy
"It's Over Now". You then also get two bonus remixed tracks off
their previous albums including "Nothing Undone" and "Isolation",
although I honestly prefer the original versions, and last but not
least a second version of the depressive "Stasis", a very obscure
track from the new album with violins sometimes evoking a dark electronic
version of The Cure! All in all, Fiction 8 brought us another excellent
album full of emotions and soulful electronics with a dark edge.
-- (TSF:8) - Side-Line Magazine
Those of you who have had the pleasure to check out the Resistor
Compilation put out by Nilaihah Records earlier this year most
definitely would recall the contribution by Fiction 8 of "Let
Go". The first track to be heard, it kicks off the compilation
with a high energy that demands the attention of any dance floor.
So to continue their string of excellent releases, Nilaihah has
done it again. I am very pleased to announce that Fiction 8 has
made their debut on the Nilaihah label with their third release
Chaotica. Self defined as Dark Pop, you will find styles ranging
from Synthpop to EBM to crossover Darkwave that make for a very
driving and talented sound that is appealing to a plethora of musical
preferences. A combination of the talents of Michael Smith (vocals,
guitar, programming), Steven Hart (keyboards, programming, additional
vocals) and Paisli (bass, additional vocals, occasional violence),
this is an album that one can listen to in its entirety and find
a delightful variation in styles applied. Fiction 8 is no where
near touching the sin of musical redundancy. The title track "Chaotica"
starts off as a jagged and disconcerting mind trip that shakes your
senses before leading back onto familiar grounds with their known
track, "Let Go". I personally found myself very impressed
with "Set You Free", which is a Darkwave/Synth/Electro mixture
of sound, and also the EBM based danceability of "Break the Line".
"Stasis" in turn offered a wonderful darkwave twist with
string instrument emulations. In turn "I Scare Myself" brought
a very reminiscent feel to "Let Go" through a slower, more
melodic approach. The three bonus tracks consist of two remixes
from previously done materials and a curious mix of "Stasis".
Overall, this album is the perfect place to begin for those of
you looking to try something new along the lines of the VNV Nation
and Wolfshiem sound. --(Xian) - Starvox's website
Upon receiving my copy of the new Fiction 8, I took note
of the professionalism in putting the CD together, the cover looks
great, done by Tower Intergalactic Media. I have been listening
to this group for about four years and must say that the sound has
inevitably evolved into a very mature sound. Mike Smith and Steve
Hart, the two long-standing members along with Mardi Paisli have
put together a brilliant album full of industrial strength. The
disk at times sounds like an early 90's industrial song, then to
a dance EBM track, then to an ambient slow song. It's really cool
to hear the bonus tracks as well on the disk. Altogether, Fiction
8's Chaotica is a well-packaged industrial music record worthy of
the $10 you will spend on it. -- (Anamatria) - Throat Culture's Website
I have had the tremendous honor of knowing Fiction 8 for many years.
They have always had a good sense of music and song writing. With
the new CD Chaotica, Fiction 8 breaks new ground and a new level
of excellent music writing. I am guaranteed a good dance floor whenever
I play them. The response of the club-goers to their music is impressive.
Chaotica combines traditional guitar sounds, nice melodies and great
beats to create pleasurable dancefloor friendly music. Chaotica
is also a great album just to sit back, relax and listen to at home
or at work. Chaotica is easily in my top 5 album releases of the
year 2000. Fiction 8 is a very hard working band and Chaotica is
the jewel of their hard work. It is a "must-have" for any underground
DJ. --(DJ Tower) - Club Onyx, Denver, Colorado
At first listen I thought this was going to be some mid-tempo electro
with a few higher tempo songs thrown in for the DJ's, but MAN WAS
I WRONG. This was the first thing a friend and I listened to on
the way back from Cleveland and we jammed to THE WHOLE THING. How
many people really listen to all of a disc when they get it? Maybe
not many, but I can speak for at least myself that this was the
case with the new Fiction 8.
Some of you who have been listening to "industrial/electronic/goth"
type music for the last 7 or so years may have remembered some of
Fiction 8's compilation appearances (such as the famous appearance
on Ras Dva's 'There Is No Time' with their song "In The
Dark") including 2000's triumphant appearance on Nilaihah Records
'Resistor' compilation. That comp featured the song "Let Go"
which appears on Chaotica for all of you to boogie to in your leisure
after a hard day at work. This track appears early in the disc which
in my opinion is a good thing seeing as how the song was already
known via the comp and is also a good lead in to what the rest of
the disc has to offer.
The third song into the disc "Sister Illusion" should be
considered an instant classic as it's somewhat hard (but not too
hard for those with sensitive ears) sound gets you dancing the second
it hits. For those who prefer the electro-female vocal type of songs
you should be really pleased with "Somnabule". If you aren't
singing this song after several listens then WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU!!??
Fiction 8 cover an great deal of ground with this CD and should
appeal to many people. It also should find a lot of play in clubs
and if it doesn't buy this for yourself and get your local DJ to
play it. If you aren't at least tapping your foot throughout
this disc, check your pulse you might be dead. --(Scott Campbell/Mr.
IndustrialPantsl) - Zoo Productions/Video
Chaotica - Review I first heard tracks from this album on mp3.com
with "Let Go" and "Sister Illusion". At first, all I could think
was that this is great music! And why hadn't I heard them before??
The entire album is a dark soundscape of guitars, keyboards, male
and female vox and a wide array of other bits and pieces that melt
together to form an excellent album.
Beginning this all off is the excellent instrumental intro "Chaotica"
with synths and break-beat percussion that fade right into "Let
Go". This is my favorite track on this album with its dancy beats,
catchy lyrics and the excellent blend of dark pop and gothic influences.
Kicking off a more sinister sound is "Sister Illusion". Again, an
excellent dance track and one of the first tracks that really attracted
me to this group. This track reminds me a lot of the dancier tracks
from Girls Under Glass and Killing Miranda.
As if starting a new chapter in a book, the mood and style shifts
a little towards a more somber tone with "Set You Free". Michael's
vocals still have that sinister edge to it, but the pace slows down
and the pulsating synths really add to that slower tone. "Somnabule"
is a real treat, picking up the pace again and featuring Paisli's
female vox. The vocals and synthesizer blend and mix so well, that
it's almost as if they're fused together to form this excellent
The entire album consists of variations on these soundscapes and
dark electro, from the catchy tunes already described to the excellent
remixes from previous albums of "Nothing Undone" and "Isolation".
"Stasis" is a sort of depressive blend of morphing synths that express
the feeling of possibly suspended animation. The distorted sounds
all blend and seem to attempt to describe the possible feeling of
being in stasis. Also included on this album is a remix of this
track which provides the perfect finale to this work of musical
art. --(Jacob Bogedahl) - Gothic
Wrapped In Wire
I was rather impressed with Fiction 8's debut CD "Dissonance
Indifference". It was an EBM/darkwave hybrid that featured well
programmed music, beautiful synths and superb male vocals. I wasn't
aware until recently that a second Fiction 8 CD came out entitled
"Spirits". I, unfortunately, missed that one entirely. However,
thanks to Nilaihah Records, I didn't have to miss this latest Fiction
8 release entitled "Chaotica". This CD shows a lot of growth
for the band with slickly constructed songs that are both energetic
and catchy. The songs on this CD combine the hard hitting floor
stomping electronic beats of EBM with the smoothness of synth-pop.
There is even great guitar work in the mix at times as well. The
disc opens with the mesmerizing instrumental "Chaotica" that
morphs into the song "Let Go" which is easily one of the
best songs on this album. The CD continues strong with the songs
"Sister Illusion", "Set You Free", "Somnabule", "It's Over Now"
and "Break The Line". Most of these songs blend both male
and female vocals with upbeat music and dance hooks. Unfortunately,
the album slows down a bit with the out of place uplifting ambient
instrumental "Stasis". While it is a beautiful soundscape,
it should have been placed as the ending track to the CD as it doesn't
work as track eight. Actually, there is a bonus remix of the song
that is the ending track to this CD. The band should have just left
the original version off the disc entirely and kept the remix as
the only version here. Anyway, things pick up again with the tracks
"Neverwhere", "I Scare Myself", "Nothing Undone" and "Isolation".
After listening to this CD several times it was very apparent to
me that this band really has it together and creates some of the
best EBM/synth-pop music the scene has to offer. Each and every
song here plays at a good pace and includes cathy chorus' that will
have you singing along. There is an excellent blend of variety on
this CD that delivers a combination of rough aggressive songs with
guitar and angry male vocals to melodic songs with beautiful harmonies
and female singing. If you enjoy clean well structured electronic
music with a dash of EBM and synth-pop, as well as a combination
of male and female vocals, this CD can't be missed. --(Darklight)
- Wrapped in Wire's website
Fiction 8 was unknown to me before last year when I heard them via mp3.com and later
on the Resistor Compilation. Now signed to Nilaihah Records, Fiction 8, made up of
members Mardi Salazar (base, violin, keys, percussion, vocals), Steven Hart (keys,
programming, percussion, turntables), and Michael Smith (guitar, keys, percussion,
random noise, vocals) make danceable, addictive electro music geared for the dancefloors.
Kicking off Chaotica is the instrumental title track that leads directly into their
most popular track to date, "Let Go," an insanely addictive electro/industrial groove
backed by male vocals that punch holes through the dancfloor and will have your finger
reaching for the repeat button continuously until you're sick of it.
Showing that they're not all dance music and big beats, Fiction 8 slows down the pace
and shows an amazing amount of skill on the song "Stasis," which blends the melody of
earlier track "Somnabule" with the beautiful violin work of Mardi.
The remix of "Isolation" towards the end of the disc was a very nice surprise that has
male and female vocals and a very soft synthpop melody.
Will Chaotica change the landscape of the industrial genre? No, but it does get you
singing along and dancing around like a crazy person in your room or your favorite
industrial dance-club. The great vocals are understandable and aren't blanketed by
mounds of distortion. Danceable melodies and even slowed-down synthpop tunes make
Chaotica an exceptional release from the young band Fiction 8.
Reviewed by GunHed for Wetworks e-zine
Appeared in Side-Line Magazine 03/1999 Recently, it's been rumbling
again in this scene. Some labels disappeared, and a few new ones
emerged out of the ashes. And Matrix Cube seems to be releasing
the material they promised for a long time now. After their not
so noticed start with the release of The Dust of Basement, they
will release 2 albums this month. And both of them are very key
albums to get noticed. For those of you new to this band, Fiction
8 previously released one album, and although this was years back,
even then it was a noteworthy CD. This time, they did an even better
job. Spirits is a very hit potential album. All tracks are catchy
one way or the other. And frankly, I think this is what a good album
is about. This is the type of album you will be singing along with
after a few first listens. The only downside to this album is the
cover version of Siouxsie's "Happy House". But it proves the craftsmanship
of the band, and that's perhaps the reason they did include this
track. My personal favourite on this album is "Tommyknockers". It's
a very dark track, and the lyrics are as catchy as the poem Stephen
King uses in his best sellers novel with the same title. I guess
we finally can sing that one, but there is more in vein of a very
interesting marriage between the old school European electro, and
the new school of American industrial. Yes, you'll get a few guitar
sounds on this album, but the rhythms are so 80's, and the sounds
are very 90's. Ah, well... music has never been meant to be described,
give this disc a listen. You might be surprised. One can only hope
that the next album will be released quicker. This is a band with
a very interesting potential. (Len: 9 TSF:9)
The Industrial Bible
This is yet another case of a great US based band having to look
to overseas labels for distribution. Fiction 8 hail from Colorado,
yet their Dissonance Indifference CD is only available as an import
through Discordia. The element that drives Fiction 8's music is
their ability to mesh the dark electro sound of Europe with the
aggression and roughness of most US bands. In The Dark starts off
the album with a superb rhythm, lively beat, and undistorted, easily
understood vocals. This is an extremely catchy tune, well produced
and performed, and bound to be tearing up dance floors across the
world. Clanky percussion elements blended with dark sounding sequences
are the impressive devices that construct Never Going Back. Coldwave
style guitars are blended into the electo/synth patterns of Curse.
Strangers in the Garden is a slower track, heavily reliant on Michael's
vocals and the tribalistic percussion. The speed begins to pick
back up on The Killing Season; with mid-paced beats, smooth sequences.
With a nearly all synth based percussion, Medusa is an extremely
original piece. Hard rhythms, steel percussion sounds, and a pulsating
atmosphere prove to be the key to perfection on Burn. Dissonance
Indifference is a superb album, it's just too bad that the current
US electro scene didn't recognize them.
This band has exhibited their strong abilities to create complex
and driving material on a number of compilations including There
Is Not Time and Cyberflesh Conspiracy (under the name We of Sound
Mind) and their first album does not fail to disappoint. This band
from Colorado comes across with a very European electro-industrial
sound, although on a few songs they come across with more of a coldwave
style, and integrate a minimal and creative use of guitar sounds.
The programming sounds flawless and the whole album is filled with
a solemn atmosphere and plenty of moodiness. The vocals come across
as somewhat evil, but this seems more a consequence of the vocalist's
natural voice, rather than trying to intentionally make them sound
that way. Most of the lyrics, rather than delving into technological
themes or "evil", deal more on an introspective and personal nature.
A few of the songs have the tendency to sound somewhat similar,
but this is just a minor flaw overall on this well-crafted album.
Wrapped In Wire
This is very well done and quality electro industrial music. It's
very melodic and gothic. The music is very catchy, and danceable
at times. The electronics are very upbeat, and the synths are haunting.
The vocals are not distorted, and sing extremely well with the music.
There is a mix between fast, medium, and slow paced songs. But the
songs are medium paced for the most part. This is very dark and
moody music. But the electronic rhythms and beats keep it energetic.
There isn't a bad song to be found here. They all sound fairly similar,
but do have subtle differences that allow them to stand apart. This
album will appeal to both electro industrial and goth music fans.
(Darklight) - Wrapped in Wire
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