Brimming with potential club hits, XP8's latest release cements the Italian band as one of the
EBM scene's most promising up-and-comers. Incorporating elements of trance and pop, such tracks as
"Bleed and Shout" and "Purity" layer irresistible vocal hooks over hard but upbeat techno rhythms
and symphonic synthesizers. "Dreamt of Blue" is slower but still thumping, a bit reminiscent of
Covenant, while "Escape Velocity" is more like Covenant on amphetamines, with the dramatic vocals
intact but the tempo cranked up to a frantic pace. XP8 are also huge Nitzer Ebb fans, and recently
teamed up with Icon of Coil's Sebastian R. Komor to release a tribute album to the EBM legends.
The influence is pretty subtle on most of Hrs:Min:Sec, but becomes glaringly apparent on "Cuttin
'n' Drinkin," right down to the reverberating shouted vocal work. "Flatline" also reveals a more
classic EBM aesthetic, but despite a plethora of computerized analog bleeps and electro rhythms,
it doesn't sound at all dated. Less derivative of many of their peers in the scene, XP8 have already
developed a unique but accessible sound. If you enjoy such artists as Covenant and Apoptygma Berzerk
but are sick to death of all the bands imitating them, check this album out for a refreshingly
different take on dark electronic dance.
Matthew Johnson @ Grave Concerns
Now XP8 starts to make some noise! After collaboration with Mr Komor, not
just during their tribute to Nitzer Ebb, the sound becomes more tuned and
not surprisingly more like Icon of Coil. Actually, sometimes it is brutally
alike and some sounds you recognize from Komor's earlier productions. This
is still nothing negative though, since 'Hrs:Min:Sec' is a real pack of
energy. Like a Gunde Svan during the 80's with an intravenous drip of taurin
in the arm.
What to say? A total of fourteen tracks where ten of them are really great,
still you should notice that of the four that's left, two of them are intro
and outro. "Bleed and Shout", "Purity" (even if I have to grab on to
something until my knuckles goes white after the pubertal hint in "from your
temple to my tower", so I don't go postal from the awkward sentence.),
fantastic "Dreamt of Blue" which I've been humming on for weeks, "Escape
Velocity", the wonderful instrumental track "The God Particle" and so on,
and so on.
XP8 becomes my favourite this month and strikes right into my personal hit list.
Patrik Lindström @ Neurozine
XP8 is the growing EBM power-offering by Nilaihah records, boasting production by
Icon of Coil's Sebastian R. Komor. XP8's line-up is Marco Visconti, Marko
Resurreccion, and Paul Toohill. As I've come to expect from Nilaihah, HRS:MIN:SEC
is cut from the purest technological stock; Sharp, clean, and precise.
XP8's sound reminds me of Icon of Coil, Imperative Reaction, and even tidbits of
NCC. The programming is top notch, and definitely XP8's most stand-out quality.
The vocals are distortion-free and complimentary to the infectious beats that
demand movement and dance-floor play.
All in all, XP8 makes for a convincing EBM act. HRS:MIN:SEC is practically
packaged and ready for dance floors, and will, no doubt, be a hit (if it isn't
already). I don't know if it will pass the home-listening test of time, but XP8's
HRS:MIN:SEC is a solid album none the less.
Shaun Phelps @ Chain DLK
At a first listen, it is unsurprising to hear that Sebastian R. Komor of
Icon of Coil produced this disc. Italy's XP8 seem almost infected with Komor's
sound, and comparisons to IOC are not only apt, but perhaps desired. "Hrs:Min:Sec"
marks the second release by the Italy-based trio, their first full-length after
the many permutations of the demo-then-debut, "Forgive(n)".
As with IOC, XP8 explores the terrain between synthpop and electro, a space
where clear harmonic vocals can be paired with frenetic dance synths and beats.
There's a certain obsession with themes of decadence that are readily apparent
within this album. Tracks like the sadistic "Bleed And Shout", the
sado-masochistic tale of "Cuttin'n'drinkin'", and the love-doll fairytale of
"Muv Your Dolly" tends to paint XP8 in a darker light than their sonic compatriots.
Of these tracks, "Muv Your Dolly" is perhaps the pinnacle of this release's
dancefloor-geared material. While the lyrics within this track exudes imagery
akin to a sexually-charged update to Pinocchio, the music itself features a
nice trance rhythm, accented by Japanese dialogue samples, bongo-like beats,
and a well-paced chorus that perfectly meshes with its thumping pace.
Other pieces here are a bit more serene, although still quite club-friendly.
For example, the instrumental "God Particle" travels at a compelling trance pace
and ornamented by subtle threads of operatic female vocals and icy high-pitched
arpeggios. Oscillating flanged blips are paired with swaggering combination
kick-drum and bass synth in the reptilian crawl of "Flatline", wherein the
vocals are minimized to a sultry syncopated whisper.
Lastly, "Dreamt of Blue" drifts into the stripped-down waters near that of
Covenant's "Europa"-era work. Featuring a steady bass drum and snare combination
and a basic synth loop, the lyrical puncture through, all levels marching in a
steady clockwork staccato.
So, is "Hrs:Min:Sec's" formula a success?
XP8 certainly can compose catchy, dance-heavy futurepop. However, as much as
Komor's is wondrous, his presence blurs the distinction between his own
projects and XP8's still-developing sound. I wouldn't be surprised if the
follow-up to "Hrs:Min:Sec" will see XP8 stand out as their own musical force.
For now, I will say that this is quite an entertaining entry into the futurepop
genre, that they show a lot of promise and talent, and XP8 is firmly standing
on the horizon as an act that will demand attention in the future.
Vlad McNeally @ Virus Magazine
XP8 provides the soundtrack to the countdown of the end of time.
Or at least the end of regurgitated electro dance. Italy's XP8 manages to
forge a backdrop of industrialized dance not properly heard since Nitzer Ebb
inspired Icon of Coil. Speaking of Icon of Coil, their very own Sebastian
Komor produced the album. The pulse pounding beats are tantalizing amid a
mesmerizing sonically manipulated trance-inducing synth-pop melody.
Futuristic music this good doesn't wait for the masses to catch up, instead
groundbreaking pumping EBM like this will allow its message to be spread
from dance floor to dance floor across the world played by the world's
finest and in tune DJs.
J-Sin @ Smother.net
The first thing that i notice when listening to HRS:MIN:SEC is that the sound
and production of this new album of the Italian band XP8 sounds crystal clear.
The band will without any doubt be very glad this album has been produced by
Sebastian Komor of Icon of Coil, and mastered by Len Lemeire of Implant. A
person well known for his excellent studio techniques, so someone you can
leave your cd in safe hands with when it needs to be tweaked and fine tuned.
The gentleman took no risk after the debacle with the not mastered debut album
on their previous label, and this has been a wise decision. After the 'Count In'
intro 'Muv Your Dolly' one of the potential singles directly blasts from the speakers,
and this is a very infective and dancefloor centered EBM dance track with
Japanese samples. 'Bleed and Shout' is the next track and this one has a really
nice groove and a catchy chorus and could very well evolve into a club favorite,
since it is addictive to listen and dance to!
'Not There' is just as infective and by now we can conclude that XP8 really has
the talent to deliver the one catchy tune after the other. Musically speaking
'Not There' doesn't really excite me, but it is damn catchy and an overall good
song. 'Purity' brings in a thoughtful moment with sensitive sung lyrics and
here melancholic sounds go hand in hand with the trance influences. The next
potential single is 'Dreamt of Blue', which again has a catchy chorus. This
tune is a delight to dance to as well.
The second half of the album is a bit more experimental and musically speaking
covers more influences of different genres, such as you'll hear in 'Flatline'
which has a strong electropop element with triphop influences, or in the uptempo
'Lies' sung by Marko, which even has a rock feel. This reminds a bit of fellow
countrymen Dopestars Inc. There are also trance instrumentals like 'The God Particle',
where the trance is combined with Icon of Coil like beats and this all results in
an epic track hinting towards Delerium. I don't really like 'Seed', but i do like
the fantastic psytrance titletrack 'Hrs:min:sec'. 'Escape Velocity' doesn't really
excite me, but 'Cuttin' 'n Drinkin' is a cool and heavy clubcracker.
DJ's will certainly pick up this one. The second moment of tranquility is
found with the clashy synthpop tune 'Our Being'.
All in all this record has become the album where many things fall into the
right place. The talent of XP8 is better exposed than on the debut album. This
cd has a nice balance and has enough variation to keep being interesting after
many listenings. Vocalist Paul's voice comes across better than on previous releases.
His voice is typical British which is fun and on this release he sings more varied
than before. It is clear he has developed but he will never become the best singer
in the world. Whoever didn't really like XP8 when checking their debut album would
be suprised by this album. Go check this. It is refreshing and a good electro album.
TekNoir @ Gothtronic
This is the sophomore album for XP8, released domestically on Nilaihah Records
in 2005. This time, the band has recorded the album with the production assistance
of Sebastian of Icon Of Coil. This album finds the bands introducing more
complexity and depth to their lyrics, while also utilizing a bit more profanity
that in the previous album. Also, the songs overall seem to have a darker slant
to them than on the previous album. Still, XP8 certainly still has full command
of their ability to write a excellent dance song, as is displayed over the length
of this album several times.
I'll freely admit to not understanding the second track, "Muv Your Dolly". It
seems to be fairly straight-forward and silly, but I have the nagging feeling
that there's more to this song than the very catchy chorus. I just can't seem
to wrap my head around it. "Bleed And Shout" is a extremely danceable and catchy
song, but also very dark and a little twisted as well. "Escape Velocity" is
easily single-worthy, just a great high-energy track that works on just about
every level. I could have done without the profanity in the chorus, but otherwise
this is a excellent track.
"Flatline" would be a excellent slower track, but I quickly grew tired of the
very repetitive electronic whooping noise that shows up far too often in the
song. "Cuttin 'N' Drinkn" takes the dark and twisted edge of "Bleed And Shout",
and goes further with it. "Bleed And Shout" was edgy enough, and this song goes
a little too far for my taste. That's as far as it goes with the really
disturbing imagery, though. "Lies", while dark and edgy doesn't cross the line
that "C&D" did, and has a ultra-catchy beat and chorus to go along with it. The
two instrumentals, both "The God Particle" and the title track that closes out
the album are really superb.
Overall, I'd say that XP8 have definitely topped their debut effort here. While
there were some moments and elements of the album I wasn't very taken with,
overall it's a really solid set of songs from a band that not only has shown a
lot of promise in the past, but appears to be well on their way to fulfilling
Jason Baker @ Synthpop.net
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