Review: Engram – Das Kapital

Engram – Das Kapital (Two Gods)

This is one of those albums that can be interpreted so many ways, and I’m sure the reviews will probably reflect this.

So starting at the beginning: This project began 22 years ago, when Engram members, Martin Bowes and John Costello submitted a track for a compilation. And everything stayed quiet, until a single release in 2015. So it’s taken a hell of a long time to get to this point, the bands debut album… but what a debut it is.

Right, to me, this sounds like political speeches and Cold War style propaganda, set over 80s sounding synth music. Some of it is quite danceable (not that I can dance), and it’s also very dark, in places, with a small bit of Industrial thrown in too.

So the vision it creates in my mind are political meetings, held in Berlin, away from the prying eyes of the Stasi and set to a hypnotic beat that continually draws you in, the more the drugs kick in… But I can swap the staging to Moscow and the prying eyes to the KGB… which is probably more likely, considering the references to Karl Marx.. and the song that’s named after him.

I used the word hypnotic in the paragraph above, and that is probably the best word to describe this album. Musically, it constantly reels you in, with the only respite coming from the drop-outs that allow the sampled speech to take centre stage. And the spoken parts are also riveting. It would be nice to know where each one comes from, as the album as a whole, feels like an historical collection of some of the World’s most important political moments.

I’m sure this would work on a packed dancefloor with video interpretations of the speeches being beamed onto large white walls, with a pulsating white light being fired over the top of people’s heads.

And no, no drugs were consumed with the writing of this review. This is just what the music on Das Kapital does to me. It makes my mind recreate the songs visually… which is a very powerful feeling.

As the album progresses, it mellows out a lot. The dance beats are replaced with ambience, some of it bordering on angelic and the sampled speeches and spoken parts are kept to a minimum. So my only (even) remotely negative comment is that album should have been split into Part 1 and a Part 2, so the listener could identify the albums differing identities.

But that is the only niggle to be found here. The first half of the album is very unique and the second half is wonderfully relaxing.

I listen to way too much music to be able to create a plausible top ten of the year. But if I did, this would be in it.

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