Diorama – Cubed ( 2010 )



Darkwave/ Electronic/ Future Pop








2010 was the year when the German band Diorama brought to light their newest and very expected album, “Cubed”. Torben Wendt’s musical project has reached a maturity beyond recognition with this material than deserves the highest ratings and sincere congratulations. Very complex and innovative from a stylistic point of view, with a number of different influences harmoniously coexisting in each song, “Cubed” represents the final result of 2 years of hard work. The title, the artwork on the CD cover and the meaning behind the metaphors in the lyrics point to the central theme of the album, the cube, viewed not as a simple geometric figure. The cube represents a confined space, which can be a stage, a prison, a shelter or the outlines of the boundaries set by the mind of any individual. Circling around this idea of an abstract cage, most of the tracks feature the trademark duality of melancholy and irony in the lyrics that serve as a wake-up call and an invitation to break the aforementioned self-implied boundaries.

Considering the philosophical nature of the material, it is a fair assumption that “Cubed” is Diorama’s most conceptual album so far, and a very good one for that matter. Rich in musical layers as well as ideological content, this material is genuine sonic exaltation for the people familiarized with Diorama’s often confusing word-play. One must see beyond the clubby beats and catchy synth lines in order to truly appreciate the value of “Cubed”, because the technique of using superficial attributes for channeling something more complicated in the brains of the listeners without them even noticing is a trick that Diorama masters beyond any shadow of a doubt.

The standard version of the album consists of 13 tracks, whereas the lucky owners of the Deluxe edition can enjoy a second CD with 5 more bonus songs. “Cubed” debuts with a slightly altered version of the previously released single “Child of Entertainment”, a version that features a sublime piano intro before the explosion of electronics. Every song that follows holds a subliminal aggressive tone due to the strong lyrics that urge to the destruction of the figurative cube. They scream “Break free!” to anyone willing to see beneath the surface. Thus, songs like “Acid Trip” or “Ignite” present themselves as invitations to fight against the rigidity, to break away from the established paths. “Cubed” is about being human, about being imperfect and often insecure. Dark feelings expressed through soft organic rythms and intermingling atmospheres create an unbearable feeling of loss in tracks such as “Gone Gone Gone”, as opposed to the wild drum beats, raging guitars and upbeat synthetic sequences that dress up “Record Deal” or “Alpha Animal Complex” in club-like outfits that make the true meaning more difficult to unravel.

“My Counterfeit” and “Lord of the Lost” are the only 2 genuine ballades on the album, as mysterious and enigmatic as any Diorama song. The former flirts with jazz influences when it comes to rythm and the piano that dominates the track, making it an overwhelmingly emotional experience. “Lord of the Lost” is considerably darker than the first ballad and it presents an amazingly well-structured melodic line. It’s phasing in beats, growing in power at first and then unfolding a complex build of elements, intertwined with chilly atmospherics and the marvelous sound of vintage piano.

For some listeners, the “Cubed” experience ends with “Stereotype”, a piece that, through rough edges, impressing guitar riffs and unpolished sound, reminds of early industrial. This is the last song of the standard album edition, which will be completed by 5 more on the Deluxe package. “Stukkato” opens the list of bonus tracks with a range of organic notes that later slide into the familiar electronic territory. A deep  feeling of hopelessness is induced by the vocalist’s tonality and through the lyrics. The following “Batteries” and “The Hunt” are heavy tracks, with low-key vocals and metaphorical illustration of wishes and emotions of mankind in the very artistic manner that is characteristic for Diorama. The outstanding “Jericho Beach” and “Shadow Play” also make the Deluxe edition of “Cubed” a treasured item for dedicated fans, since the melodic complexity that lays the grounds for feelings of resentment towards the meaninglessness of life, as well as the atmosphere itself, is breathtaking.

Revealing hidden faces of Diorama and its musical brilliance, the album that revolves around the abstract concept of the cube we each build for our own purposes is undeniable proof that talent, determination, hard work and deep understanding of the human nature are key ingredients to creating a material that will, most certainly, not be forgotten very soon. “Cubed” is an intense and dynamic album that builds dramatic tension with every note and lyric, a feeling that, hopefully, will bring people to “rip out the edges of their cubes”.


~ by laurieind on September 12, 2011.

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