Around sixteen years ago, I was awake late one night. It was a humid night during the summer, and that sticky feeling was making sleep pretty much impossible. I walked to the living room to watch some late night TV, knowing that networks showed their more eccentric fair after midnight, and I was not disappointed. I turned to the USA Network and caught the opening synth lines to John Carpenter’s They Live. A depiction of a desolate future, overrun with hidden aliens on the cusp of world domination through subliminal messages tied together with a classic John Carpenter score. Seriously, if you’ve never seen this movie, get on that. Tired, sweaty, and enchanted, the movie had my full attention. That’s the way I felt while listening to Meanstream, the latest album from Principles of Geometry; an almost surreal experience in synth beats and impending doom. Meanstream exudes almost as much emotion as it evokes.
Meanstream is birthed from a different era. As a member of the nostalgic generation, it tugs pretty firmly on some cognitive strings. I can’t help but think of violent movies, dayglo clothing and old CRT monitors with green on black type. This album plays as the soundtrack to a long forgotten, unearthed ’80s movie, not unlike the cache of “ET: The Extraterrestrial” video games recently exhumed in New Mexico. The biggest setback being it is a package deal; you have to listen to the whole album to really “get it” otherwise, individual tracks leave something to be desired.
In “Suntunnel” there is an almost choral use of backing vocals that is altered into a synth-wave. A feeling of unease wasn’t uncommon while listening to Meanstream, and that was by design. On several songs, there were times where extra fills would be thrown into beats, and vocals distorted just enough to keep you on your toes. I never really knew what Meanstream was going to do next which, while exciting, was different for an electronic album. There was never a moment where the groove was totally broken, but it was never completely intact either.
Principles of Geometry have expertly crafted a techno noir album. Without the use of big vocals or verbose baselines, they’ve created an atmospheric album that plays well from beginning to end. Those looking for more of a party album may have to look elsewhere because, while Meanstream doesn’t fully venture into acquired taste territory, it flirts with it quite a bit. Maybe on a sleepless, humid night in Miami.
Originally published on: Inyourspeakers.com (04/28/2014)