Published Nov 02, 2016Almost a quarter-century into their career, you might expect the southern Ontario-based industrial techno duo Orphx to be sounding a bit tired. Not so. Pitch Black Mirror, their first album since 2011's Radiotherapy, is an enthralling listen that proves they're more than worthy of the appearances at Berghain they've been tapped for.
Sonically, this record isn't too far removed from more mainstream techno, but it boasts a rhythmic and conceptual variety that is often lacking in the genre, something that helps Pitch Black Mirror cohere into an album proper, rather than what feels like a collection of singles.
The use of vocals also helps make this an engaging listen; snippets of spoken word and chant are woven into the dark, sometimes even dystopic soundscapes, and samples of screaming help to punctuate the more intense passages. While there isn't much in the way of hummable melody on the album, close listeners will find melodic content hidden in corners you wouldn't normally expect to find it in, like the distorted static of "Sever the Signal" or the industrial clanging of "Unknowing."
"Molten Heart" and "Zero Hour" both make nods to acid, with 4/4 bass drum patterns and thick, sinewy synth loops. The closing track, "Pitch Black Mirror," is the album's only beatless number. The pleasant ambience of its higher register is undercut by a hellish bass part that threatens to swallow listeners whole. It's a dramatic coda to a great record. (Sonic Groove)