"AETHERNET" is a really interesting short record from an upcoming group that's all sorts of experimental, yet I feel like it falls rather flat on many fronts, even though I found the album to be quite captivating due to its futuristic approach and successful blend of genres.
Prior to listening to this collective I had absolutely no idea what I was getting into, I tried searching online for some extra information and all that I could find was very limited, I only walked away knowing that they were a fairly advanced group, they were rather obscure and that they consisted of 5 members, all hailing from different parts of the globe.
With that, the record started playing and I had no idea how to feel about it, as it was something quite unique, but ever since the start I noticed I could draw comparisons to something I had listened beforehand, that being Bladee's "Good Luck", an album that I admittedly despised. However, the overlap in their music is just minimal, as they are working with a similar mindset but taking absolutely different artistic choices. While I hated Bladee's LP for its unreliable production and awful vocal performances, Fax Gang, on the other hand, act as the polar opposite.
A neat easter egg about this album is that you could easily listen to it as a pure instrumental recording and completely ignore the vocal performances if you're playing it as background, as the mixing choices taken by the collective were rather odd, as opposed to Bladee's project since you could never ignore his presence. On the forefront of this attempt are laid down futuristic videogame like textures that are comparatively way more varied, as the listener is quickly welcomed to pick up on a diversity of sounds and that's what turns this endeavour into something quite successful, even if I am not entirely keen on the member's performances themselves.
The bombastic, engulfing, overwhelming, dreamy and misty instrumental choices that are taken contrast rather well with the overshadowed and lifeless vocalizations faintly heard in the background and while I'm not sure which members handle production and which ones are set on the front line, even if the mixing doesn't exactly put the spotlight on them, I can easily distinguish that there were at least a couple or a few different members flowing under these massive instrumentals, which added another extra layer to the project.
Another little aspect that I find to be quite fulfilling, yet others could find it to be its biggest flaw, are how repetitive the vocal melodies appear to be, the people involved with this record were clearly not fond of changing their melodic rap style of singing much often, yet that small vocal harmony that is consistently playing in the atmosphere is exactly what does the mixing choices any justice, even if they are still not completely triumphant, the way that they are insisting with the same sticky melodies for a long time is quite pleasant, especially since those are not the center of attention and act way more as a secondary instrument in the background.
I may be making a review that is way too positive for something I have given a score of 57, yet I just thought that this record was something that was extremely well thought out conceptually, it's more that the actual result is quite underwhelming in itself, I simply enjoyed it more as an abstract idea than something that I would sit down and listen to, maybe only solely as background noise.
I really like how they are meshing a bunch of hip hop and pop subgenres together and I'm seeing the appeal and tremendous room for improvement, it's only the actual album in itself that I don't think provides a compelling and concise listening experience. Perhaps the mixing choice is not completely wrong but they just have to find a better midpoint in my opinion, as mixing is probably one of the only few elements that I take into consideration when forming my opinions that can utterly make or break something and in this case, it breaks.
The solution could be to work with a much more dynamic mixing strategy, maybe placing the vocals in a spot that is more relevant and give them some time to shine as well, they could work with a scheme that's different for verses and choruses, as much of the dullness that this project emits comes from a link between the mixing and some songs' excessive length.
In conclusion, while I find Fax Gang as a group to be taking quite fascinating risks and I think that there were tons of work done in preparation, particularly in the production department, which came out wonderful, personally I still find the whole record to be quite tiresome and lacking cohesiveness.
Favorite tracks: Fallen.
Least favorite tracks: Reality/Dreams, Implosion and Goodbye.