Cybertoyz - Undo.Exit |self-released, 2014| 5/5 metal/electronic
01. Enter: A Fistful Of Dust, 02. Absolutely Identifiable, 03. Battery Operated pt 1, 04. i:Romance, 05. Bleed Your God, 06. Battery Operated pt 2, 07. Survival Type, 08. The Dead Drive Fast, 09. Heavenly, 10. Exit: A Handful Of Stars
Cybertoyz is the solo project of Zyggie (Alexander Korpusov; guitars, programming, sampling) - a guitar player armed with his favourite Framus Diablo 7-string and Ibanez JS1000 guitars. Undo.Exit is the sophomore release of the Moscow-based project founded in 2004, coming 8 years after the debut Chaos Theory album.
The newest album brings a mix of two main sound themes - guitar driven and electronica, matched together successfully so far. As Zyggie admits, he managed to incorporate catchy riffs on odd chord progressions and Satriani-like legato shredding into industrial and electro tunes. He was inspired by highly influential rock artists such as Led Zeppelin, Rush, Steve Vai, Buckethead and Jeff Beck as well as electronic acts: Aphex Twin, The Young Gods, Nine Inch Nails, Gravity Kills, Switchkicker/MM9, Pitchshifter and Die Krupps.
The technique called 'shredding' is quite important for the majority of metal guitarists - either for their own finger training, best guitarist contests or just showing off. It is always entertaining to watch or listen to, but when included in several songs on an album, it must be well arranged and mixed to avoid sticking out. Undo.Exit is an example of production done right.
You'll have a taste of shredding in the very first track, "Enter: A Fistful Of Dust", which would suit an action video game perfectly. In fact, it reminds me of a theme from Quake III. However, aside of the guitar soloing, there are electro synths and a symphonic female voice in the background. The composition is pretty short but rhythmic with somewhat an epic motif.
The following track, "Absolutely Identifiable" begins with a high-pitched looped guitar riff, later altered by a small spattering of electronica. The mix grows potent when dense drums and bass join in next. The guitar returns with a memorable, spiritual solo further along the track. The arrangements change quite often in this purely instrumental track, and probably only the rhythm remains solid throughout.
If you're craving modern electronic music, listen to "Battery Operated pt 1". It is not deprived of guitars, reminiscent of how Robert Fripp (King Crimson) uses his instrument quite often. Think of spirals drawn with high-pitched sounds and expressed with the entire scale. There are also a contrasting groovy bass and fundamental drums in the background so in all, there's some good fodder for your ears.
The moods on this album do come in different shades, but they don’t change too often. You can already sense differences in the song titles, e.g. "Battery Operated pt 1" sounds technical and sophisticated when compared to "i:Romance" which brings the style of the 80s rock songs through a warm and melodic vibe. There are upbeat dynamics and classical guitar solos that go well with tiny electronic add-ons. Balance in the track has a strong focus, certainly helping listeners keep a healthy, steady heartbeat. If this track is about a romance, it's about a spirit-opening experience.
After that you get exotic, nostalgic, stretched and singular tone guitar passages wrapped around a rather cold and 'windy' composition. "Bleed Your God" sounds like typical Middle East music but performed on an electronic guitar instead of traditional Eastern instruments. It is a very short instrumental track, that might as well have been used as the intro to the album. Here, it gives you a breather before you dive into the complex arrangements written for "Battery Operated pt 2".
This composition, built upon improvisation and performed on guitars, drums and bass is even shorter than the previous track, so you won't get too deep into musical confusion. Think that you've just jumped into a malfunctioning electronic device, where some lines of code are still working well, but others loop like a damaged vinyl record.
"Survival Type" begins with a KMFDM-like electronic passage, but then turns into a prog-rock or even a prog-metal composition, thanks to dualistic guitars vs synths arrangements. There are symphonic metal elements smuggled in as well, with an additional dose of beat-driven electronica, which fits in very well. The guitars seem to have an argument with the bass regarding leadership. Both however, stitch interesting arrangements individually as well as together, so they do complement each other like lovers in a passionate relationship.
"The Dead Drive Fast" brings a bit of an iconic Depeche Mode-esque motif but then falls into rock'n'blues & rock'n'roll. Not entirely though, if you recall the main goal of the album - to reconcile guitar driven arrangements with modern electronic music. There are far more variegated influences coming from different genres (metal as well!), thus only you can decide if Ziggy succeeded.
Linking tracks within an album to make changes in the tracklist smooth is a good move - check out how "The Dead Drive Fast" slides into "Heavenly". The latter is a rock ballad, but you should forget about nostalgic boredom you may find in trendy songs by Chris Isaak, for example. You'll find a bit more of Clapton's guitar mastery instead, but still altered with clean, chillout electronica in some spots.
All this leads us unto the final track, "Exit: A Handful Of Stars". A sad (but not melancholic) mood permeates this song. Female background vocals appear rarely, just enough to give the track a slightly heroic feel. This instrumental ending of the album should leave listeners in contemplation.
All compositions on Undo.Exit flow smoothly, instead of possibly interrupting each other when groovy electronica extends what guitars only kick off. This speaks perfectly for Zyggie's expert songwriting - after all he studied jazz theory in a college, but also spent around 15 years on self-mastering his guitar techniques.
The guest musicians on this album are: Anna Lyapina (vocals), Sergey Timofeyev (bass), Alexander Karpukhin (drums), Dmitry Oslyakov (drums) and Ruslan Dzhigkaity (drums).
It's also worth adding that mastering and production are very well done (by Nickolay Vengrzhanovich at Light Temple Records, Moscow, Russia). Both styles of music that meet on this album need a different mastering approach, and it turned out successful on Cybertoyz' Undo.Exit. Neither guitars nor electronica take up all the bandwidth.
The excellent, cyber-punkesque blue cover artwork was designed by Eugene "Jonny" Postebaylo and looking at it while listening to the music feels just right.
Watch out for Cybertoyz in your area - they do play live gigs. Zyggie also had an endorsement contract with Framus/Warwick and AMT Electronics between 2009-2010. You should not miss this release if you're looking for innovative guitar driven compositions.
(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, Fabryka Music Magazine, June 23rd, 2014. Proofreading: Mike 'Vesper' Dziewoński)
This review on Fabryka Magazine: http://industrialrock.net/php-files_en/articles.php?article_id=542
Buy on: Bandcamp
Reviewed by Fabryka Music Magazine