End to End is our track-by-track take on non-album and compilation releases, in which we try to give thumbnail first impressions of each song and point to particular numbers to be cherry-picked via the consumer’s online retailer of choice.
Inertia have been kicking around the industrial scene for almost two decades at this point, and while I can’t speak for their native England I don’t know that they’ve ever really broken through in North America in any substantial way. Reza Udhin (who has been making hay as the live keyboardist for Killing Joke for a few years) was certainly ahead of the game when he started combining techno and electro-industrial elements back in the early 90s, a trend that has always marked his work along with an emphasis on melodic vocals and an emphasis on song driven material. With their recent signing to Metropolis it would seem that the project is making overtures to a market where they’ve largely remained a cult act, in spite of some big name cosigners like Gary Numan. Their new remix single Alive precedes a full length LP Universal Blood which’ll be out next month. Let’s have a listen, shall we?
“Alive (Single Mix)”
This is straight up the middle as contemporary Inertia songs go, 4/4 drums, bubbly programming and a tastefully processed guitar liberally applied to the hook. It’s a pretty solid tune if not a total knock-out, I feel like the chorus is kind of restrained and grounded when it should really break away and soar over the verse. It does remind me of Razed In Black a bit, who had this schtick down pat circa Damaged. Not shabby, and certainly lots of remix potential.
“Alive (XP8 Remix)”
This is kind of an uncharacteristic remix for XP8, who I find usually cut through to the heart of a track before adding their own dancefloor proven formula to a song. In this case it seems more like they went with emphasizing their own bass and drum programming, which yields a reasonably good club mix if nothing else. There’s some nice synth parts that break out in the back end of the track that are fun, otherwise a solid but not essential rendition.
“Alive (Paul Robb Mix)”
Information Society’s Paul Robb certainly leans hard in the rock direction with his version of “Alive”, adding some melodic guitar to the body of the song and stripping away a lot of the synths leaving a pulsing bass and drum track. The chorus certainly pops well on it, especially when set against the more minimal take on the verse. It’s a decently executed idea, a simple and direct variation that plays up some of the song’s strengths.
“Alive (Ego Likeness Remix)”
To be honest, I’m not sure how much Ego Likeness added to this song, much of their remix feels very close to the original with the addition of a whole lot of reverb to the vocals and some glitchy sounds that pop up here and there. I kind of wish they had developed the tweaky sounds a bit more, as it is it doesn’t feel like the American darkwavers (who are normally terrific when it comes to playing with melody and electronics versus guitars) were terribly inspired when they committed this one to tape.
This b-side revolves around programmed break that has a nice syncopated break that of calls to mind some of C-Tec’s more laidback material. It’s a classic b-side in that it doesn’t feel substantial enough to be an album cut, although I do like the plinky keyboards on the chorus and the fact that it rides the groove pretty hard from beginning to end.
“Alive (Inertia Electro Body Mix)”
Pumping up the bass and stripping out the guitars on this version certainly doesn’t go very far towards rectifying the relative flatness of the song; if anything it homogenizes the verse and chorus to the point where it feels pretty samey from beginning to end. I played it turned up louder and found it a bit better at club volume, it could serve as a decent transitional DJ track but is otherwise pretty bland as club mixes go.
“Alive (Lowlife Disco Mix)”
A more drawn out mix that favours a bumping bass sound but falls victim to the same problem as the preceding version, namely that it doesn’t change up enough in spite of a fairly lengthy breakdown mid-song. The cymbal programming does give it a nice funky tech feel that could make it appropriate for some styles of club play but I can’t shake the feeling that at almost seven minutes it lacks urgency.
The Takeaway: To be totally frank, after multiple listens I’m not convinced “Alive” is a strong enough song to demand single treatment. I can certainly see it working in the context of an album of like-minded material, but there’s little here that I think could justify the purchase of a whole EP, digital or otherwise. The single version and the Paul Robb mix are probably the high points if you’re a fan, otherwise I’d recommend just waiting for the album to be released in November.
“Alive” is available digitally from Metropolis and iTunes.