Project TO - The White Side The Black Side
Few techno or electronica outfits, past or present, have the audacity emboldening Project TO on their first release. The White Side, The Black Side is a conceptually driven multimedia effort with twelve songs accompanying its presentation. The dozen tracks on their debut release are sectioned off into the two groups alluded to by the album’s title. The white side songs concentrate on the traditional techno experience – persistent rhythms, enormous driving beats, and a glossy thrust that is sure to engage as well as entertain countless listeners. Their counterparts on the black side, in comparison, are much more elemental and lean affairs – the percussion is much more askew, generally, and the line of attack that the music takes is much more narrowly defined and compact. The general atmosphere of the second side is, generally, darker, but not in a cheesy way. The second side’s songs are intended as re-imaginings, or in the band’s parlance “photographic negatives”, and share the same running time as the white side tracks down to the last second. This is a highly unified work that never loses its way or over-indulges despite its high flown conception.
The first song, “I Hope”, is probably the “lightest” and most across the board accessible track on the album. It includes a great deal of spoken word laid over top that its “black” opposite does not share. “Black I Hope” embodies the aforementioned approach quite well – everything is pared back and boiled to its essential elements. “Sign of the Earth” is quite chaotic, in some respects, for a white side track, but the brash chaos it conjures is more raucous than disoriented – the song never loses a tight grip on its strong musicality. The black side version is much different. “Black Sign of the Earth” sounds like it means harm and looms from the speakers with leering power. The tempo remains as upbeat as ever, but Project TO prove themselves masters of shading with this one.
“Rebirth” brings the outfit perilously close to the territory of outright rock, but it never ventures too far afield from its techno base. The rock and roll poses figure in most prominently with the changing dynamics of the track that look to build tension. There is no such move on its twin “Black Rebirth”. The black side song comes pummeling from the speakers like a piston-driven fist and hits listeners with the same impact time after time. There are some variations in the track, but like on other black side takes, Project-TO steps back from their white side approach and create distinctive alternatives to the first six songs.
You are excused if you think the concept driving the album defies reason or sense. It certainly doesn’t fall in line with the typical concept album or musical work structured along thematic lines, but it has a larger scheme that becomes increasingly clear with each subsequent listen. The White Side, The Black Side will not readily surrender its secrets and listeners are urged to give it multiple plays before decided they have a handle on what Project-TO is attempting here. Highly recommended.
9 out of 10 stars