Paradox Obscur – Singles & Rarities

Rating: 1.5/5
Distributor/label: Metropolis Records
Released: 2021
Buy Album: https://paradoxobscur.bandcamp.com/album/singles-rarities-2
Band Website: https://www.instagram.com/paradox_obscur/

Paradox Obscur - Singles and Rarities - album artBand Line-up:

Toxic Razor
Kriistal Ann

Tracklisting:

01. Existence
02. Visions
03. Boulevard Voltaire
04. Fatal
05. Tranquil
06. Tale
07. Perpetual
08. Resurgence
09. Superbia
10. Perished Wisdom
11. Entropy
12. Throbbing Gallows

Review:

Toxic Razor and Kriistal Ann came together to form the Athens, Greece-based dark electronic duo Paradox Obscur in early 2014. As one of the few electronic ensembles to record their albums in real-time, the duo are able to capture the essence and magic of the moment without the aid of sequencing and editing software. Paradox Obscur then takes it all a step further, utilizing vintage synthesizers and drum machines to create their captivating raw sound. While the prolific Toxic Razor and Kriistal Ann have worked on many projects apart, it is with Paradox Obscur where their critically acclaimed talents have resulted in the release of 4 full-length albums and an additional five EPs, supported by scores of dynamic live performances all over the European map. Paradox Obscur makes its Metropolis Records debut with the release of an explosive exclusive collection entitled “Singles & Rarities” on March 12th, 2021.

Paradox Obscur aimed to move in a more minimal direction than their previous projects and haul a diverse universe consisting of dark hardware synthesizers under a cold drape of spiraling electronics. Their live shows are characterized by the raw energy from Toxic Razor and energetic vocals from Kriistal Ann.

Toxic Razor weighs in on the hype for their first physical records:

‘Let us get excited in these strange hypochondriac times we live in, because life is a bottomless journey of surprises! Especially when the achievements include our personal work and a thorough moral effort! We are pleased to announce our new release ” Singles & Rarities” with unique songs we have written throughout our existence, sculpted into a wonderful collection and curated by a favourite label such as Metropolis Recordzs’

The overall sound is raw, almost to the point of being primitive. The vocals are layered and often echoey, lending a trippy and almost disorienting feel. Like raw and unfiltered alcohol the taste is quite a stark departure from the norm and not for everyone. Opening track Existence has a cold and morose feel like freezing fog. Visions features Kriistal Ann’s vocals that are more layered and echoing than the previous track. Paired with repetitive loops and buzzy synths it sounds like a soundtrack to coming round from a nasty bang on the head. Boulevard Voltaire provides some respite from the headache-inducing echoes providing refreshing and genuinely catchy melodies alongside more melancholy male vocals. Fatal opens with crunchy synth riffs which are then layered with more ethereal soundscapes and beats reminiscent of a tambourine. Toxic Razor sings about being driven insane and I don’t feel too far behind him as the listener. The riffs and beats form a catchy interlude and Kriistal Ann joins the melee, thankfully sans mind-bending echo.

Tranquil features the best of both vocals so far with catchy beats and synths and the vocals melding together pleasingly, the best track of the album so far as it has a theme and sticks to it without adding a multitude of effects that detract from the talent this duo clearly possess. Tale is just that and starts with Kriistal Ann narrating a short story about an unfortunate child before launching into hard yodeling type vocals backed by trippy synths that sound more like the soundtrack to an alien invasion than an emotional fable. I personally found the narration jarring the yodeling vocals actively unpleasant. Perpetual starts with an engaging, multi-layered beat and pleasingly muted synths soon imposed upon by dual-layered and echoing vocals again adding a surreal yet misery-infused sense of occasion.

Resurgence stamps out a fast-paced, slightly ominous beat then augmented by Kriistal Ann’s dreamy vocal – quiet, almost chant-like, and mercifully echo-free. Superbia has a danceable beat and riff with Toxic Razors presiding over proceedings as though from a loudhailer several streets away. Perished Wisdom showcases simple synth loops and mid-pace beats over a stronger vocal performance with Kriistal Ann and her ever-present shimmering echo. Entropy is an outlier, starting fast and punchy with synths and beats reminiscent of 90s techno. In the same vein, Kriistal Ann provides spoken words (infused with numerous effects). Closing track Throbbing Gallows begins with a suitable throbbing beat backed by almost reverent ethereal synths and a slow, laconic spoken and sung segment from Kriistal Ann.

Paradox Obsur have some good selling points: their retro equipment and live recordings. They also clearly both possess musical talent and promise. A handful of songs were genuinely enjoyable and felt cohesive, impactful, and showcased the talent at hand. Unfortunately for me, some of the vocal effects were overdone and made for an unpleasant sensory experience. I could almost feel my eyes swiveling into spirals like something out of a Tom and Jerry cartoon. I feel the album was a bit unnecessary. The singles are clearly good. The rarities? Best left in a cassette box under the bed and left to gather dust.

If you miss the old days and the more “analogue” form of making and performing dark electro music or would like to feel you are tripping wildly for free – give this a spin, and bring some anti dizziness tablets with you.

Stand out tracks: Fatal, Tranquil, Perpetual, Entropy

For fans of: Dein Lakeien, Selofan, Zanias, Keluar, Minut Machine, Public Memory, Boy Harsher, Pleasure Symbols

Review by Ro
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