Album Review :: Midnight Juggernauts ‘Uncanny Valley’
June 24th 2013
Listening to Uncanny Valley, I can’t help but hear the sounds of spaceships having sex, and I mean that in the best way possible.
Each track finds a new angle between the thrusting depths of masculine bass and the delicate highs of melodic synth, transporting us to new frontiers on this interstellar expedition.
The Melbourne trio are no newcomers to this kind of sci-fi foray. Six years ago, Midnight Juggernauts were responsible for Dystopia, the debut album that merged sci-fi with dance so well that me and every other sweat-soaked teenager were left with no idea what to do but jerk our shoulders back and forth as if to shake off the past. Like those kids, the MJs have since matured – with their thought-provoking second album The Crystal Axis, and now their newest intellectual departure, Uncanny Valley. While its title refers to the revulsion occurring when technology recreates humanness to near perfection, all such revulsion is avoided in this album – as the band holds true to their authentic, albeit cleverly filtered sounds.
The three years between albums have not gone to waste, with a number of film scoring projects seeing the band combine their songwriting with their newfound storytelling abilities. Whereas previous albums served mostly as platforms for hits, Uncanny Valley presents each brilliant track worlds apart from the last, all adding to a stronger finale without an unstimulated moment in between.
[Despite the Russian, this actually is a Midnight Juggernauts clip. We swear.]
The first single, ‘Ballad of the War Machine’, is a track set – like all Juggernauts hits – to infiltrate musical minds for months to come, whether we know it or not. Its marching, anthemic chant of, “Godspeed, travel well,” marks the launch of this interstellar ride.
From there, the penetrating highs of ‘Memorium,’ ‘Sugar and Bullets’ and ‘Systematic’ are counterbalanced by the dark and stormy tracks that lay between, each exploring the future by remembering the past.
Uncanny Valley is not an album as much as it is a scientific dissertation, using references to sci-fi rockers of yore, Japanese roboticists, Russian poets, CGI innovators, and every other influence in between.
The hammering drums and staccato-scientific vocals that once filled dance floors have been replaced by informed rhythmic harmonies, as if the band has graduated from the jerkiness of adolescence to the masterful strokes of the Kama Sutra starship.
You can scarcely tell that this album was recorded in a church in the French countryside. My guess would be an underground soviet bunker, or the music room on a utopian starship. Nevertheless, with their diverse influences, international collaborations and interstellar aspirations, we are lucky to call this band homegrown.
Having graduated as masters of intergalactic copulation, Midnight Juggernauts’ Uncanny Valley is an album guaranteed to leave you satisfied.