For those of you not in the know, Cyberaktif was an electronic body music (EBM)/industrial music collaboration between Bill Leeb (Front Line Assembly), cEvin Key (Skinny Puppy), and Dwayne Goettel (Skinny Puppy) that started and ended in 1990.
I should also point out that as a huge fan of the EBM/industrial material being cranked out in the late 80's and early 90's, that I love the otherwise meager collection of music created by Cyberaktif. Much like Front Line Assembly's prime material on their 1990 album “Caustic Grip,” Cyberaktif's material also masters that “cyber sound” I love so much in industrial music, and is a perfect fit for cyberpunk movies and animation like Robocop and Armitage III.
After listening to this groups meager collection of otherwise great music, I can safely say that Cyberaktif is almost like a mix between Front Line Assembly's high-tech, grimy dance beats from their “Caustic Grip” material and Skinny Puppy's eerie film samples and horror atmosphere.
Two songs on here have been altered from Cyberaktif's sole album, “Tenebrae Vision.” “Temper” has been extended considerably from the original of that album. “Meltdown” is a remix of the song “Paradiessiets,” with totally different vocals and lyrics, along with a longer running length. The last track, “Dream Needle,” is the sole original song off this album.
All the musicians here capitalize on their strengths very well here.
Bill Leeb's vocals on this EP are a perfect fit for the music created here. Like what Leeb did in the “Tenebrae Vision” album and “Nothing Stays” EP, Leeb flexes more creativity with his vocal style as to where he's not just applying his vocal style in FLA to this project, but at the same time, still creates vocals that are menacing and perfect for the harsh electronic instrumentation contained herein.
Dwayne Goettel and cEvin Key don't skimp on the quality of their electronic compositions on this EP. They establish and excellent electronic rhythm on all of the songs and the variation shows how versatile they are all the while not compromising quality. The percussion is also varied in tone as some of the beats sound electronic while some others sound more organic. Their use of sound samples and keyboards/synthesizers is also impressive, as these give it varying qualities of either a high-tech menacing dance tune or an eerie nightmare set to music.
Since there's only three songs on here, I think I can review all three of them here.
I think this version of “Temper” is much better than the album version. The extended running time makes a huge difference, since this gives the song a bunch of menacing beats that sound a little like a recording of glass getting smashed and distorted through a sound distortion device to give it a sick “electronic” feel. The song itself is a really menacing high-energy dance song made for lovers of dark music. Leeb's vocals are amazing here because he expresses the most range, whether through organic or synthetic means. He utilizes a harsh vocal style most of the song, but utilizes some whispered lines that don't sound forced and towards the middle and 75% points of the song, unleashes some electronically-altered vocals that sound like something out of one's nightmares. “Temper” probably flexes the Front Line Assembly style of musicianship the most on this EP. Out of the three songs on this EP, this is probably my favorite, and the most fitting for a gritty cyberpunk movie.
“Meltdown” flexes more of a Skinny Puppy style of musicianship than “Temper.” “Meltdown” has Leeb using vocal distortion effects to make him sound a little like a menacing android, not to mention that the rhythm has a considerably slower tempo than “Temper.” This song also utilizes sound samples from a late 80's horror movie called The Unholy (which I've never seen), and primarily, the samples are of a woman screaming in paranoia about someone watching her. This is a nice, slower EBM tune, and is good listening material when writing about some dark subject matter.
“Dream Needle” is quite a treat of a song. It's not quite as energetic as “Temper,” but a tad more than “Meltdown.” This song possibly has the most ominous atmosphere through its punchy rhythm and dark synthesizer and keyboard layers, and these make it almost feel like a sci-fi/horror hybrid of sorts. Leeb's vocals, again, have diverse styles that perfectly complement the music rather than having variety for variety's sake, as you get some of the more conventional harsh vocals and sick, whispered lines. Where “Temper” felt more like Front Line Assembly and “Meltdown” felt more like Skinny Puppy, “Dream Needle” almost feels like a perfect hybrid of both. All in all, a fantastic EBM song.
The production here is excellent for the style of music. You can hear all of the musical elements perfectly, but at the same time, there's an air of grittiness to the atmosphere and sound quality that makes this EP all the more menacing.
If you love late 80's/early 90's industrial/EBM, Cyberaktif's “Temper” EP is a must. Aside from this, you should also invest in Cyberaktif's other releases, the “Nothing Stays” EP and the “Tenebrae Vision” album, as the band's whole discography is totally worth owning.