The Phantom Tollbooth

The Birth of the Future
Artist: Cybershadow
Producer: Carson Pierce
Label: Flaming Fish, 1998
Time: 12 Tracks/70:41 minutes
After the techno-dance beats on Social Conditioning, the EP which Cybershadow released in late 1997, I was expecting more of the same here. Was I in for a surprise! Little prepared me for the lush, symphonic music to be encountered on The Birth of the Future.

Cybershadow is the brainchild of Jess Macintyre, and this album is his first full-length CD. As the name Cybershadow suggests, there is plenty of darkwave music throughout the album, but also so much more. This is one of the more creative, experimental projects I have heard lately. It opens with the symphonic darkwave instrumental "1st Trimester." Next, we are treated to "Self Control," which could be the start of a great sci-fi concept album. "Third World" and "Civil Tank Dept." move into synth-pop land. The latter's catchy beat and lyrics quickly captured my attention, making it my favorite:

The symphonics return in "Universal Love," along with an industrial dance beat. All through the album there is an underlying darkwave feel that ties the mixture together and makes it all work. The lyrics are mostly delivered through distorted vocals, and cover everything--violence, injustice, inequality, relationships, depression and uncertainty, freedom without responsibility,  and the influence of social concepts. The songs are mostly created by synthesizers and drums, and while the sound may be a little uneven in places, it's a wonderful introduction to Jess's unique soundscapes and obvious talent. Flaming Fish has been releasing some interesting music, and this certainly continues that trend. I am certainly going to look for more from Cybershadow.
By Shari Lloyd (9/12/98)