Halo: Best of Madtown Electro and Synth

Jason Baker Stochastic Theory “Shared Lies”
Ensku “All Is Fair”
Brian Schuh “The One Who Dismissed Me Again”
m00ntz! “I Don't Want Her (And Neither Do You)”
Echo Virus “Stranded (8 Hours)”
Signal 12 “Anesthetized”
Null Device “Electrified”
The Gothsicles “English License (The How-did-we-get-on-this-comp? mix)”
ctrlshft “Half-Life”
Oneiroid Psychosis “First The Head, Then The Body”
Caustic “Incendiary”
Stromkern “Ruin”
The Dark Clan “LeStat In Cuba”

This compilation was put together by Dead Beat Productions to highlight the numerous and extremely talented Electro acts that have emerged from the Madison, Wisconsin. The compilation features some bands that have already garnered some national attention in the Underground, such as Null Device and Stromkern, as well as some up-and-coming artists such as Stochastic Theory and Echo Virus. At the time that this compilation was released, most of these were exclusive tracks, however, some have since that time the Null Device and Stochastic Theory tracks have appeared on the respective band's latest albums.

Stochastic Theory launch the compilation with “Shared Lies”, the opening track for the debut album “Soliloquy”, which was just recently released. The track features a hard-driving rhythm and a pretty cool chorus. Maybe not the most catchy chorus I've ever heard, but still a very good one. I like Stochastic Theory's dark and danceable, yet edgy sound here. And the album is even better….

Ensku appears to be a side project of Eric Oehler from his main project Null Device, collaborating with Jill Goedken and Heather O'Brien. It's a lot more beat heavy than a lot of Null Device material, and the very blippy nature of the synths here means this song can bore itself into my brain very easily and refuse to be dislodged for a good long while. A neat song..

Brian Schuh, with “The One Who Dismissed Me Again”, became a instant favorite on the compilation, and mutliple listens have only confirmed that. It's a darkwave oriented track, with a wonderful melody. The lyrics are super-sharp, with biting bitterness that I found really effective. It's a really excellent track, and I look forward to hearing more form this artist.

m00ntz! give us another dose of musical bitterness with “I Don't Want Her (And Neither Do You)”. This song chronicles the potential downsides of a one night stand.. and just how badly it can go if the other person refuses to let go. OCD, co-dependacy, and several other psychological disorders are referenced in this very amusing (and hopefully not based on a true story) song.

Echo Virus follow with “Stranded (8 Hours)”, a track that reminds me a little of Null Device, but with more of a EBM influence in the music. It's a enjoyable song, but it doesn't particularly grab me all that much. I think I'd need to hear more material before making a final judgement on Echo Virus, but this track alone isn't really enough to form a firm opinion on. I hear good elements in this song, but I'm not totally swayed…

Signal 12, with “Anesthetized” from their album “Aphonia”, give us a very electro-oriented track with distorted lead vocals. To me, this track seemed to plod along. For a mid-to-low tempo track, this just seemed to drag on and on. Nothing about the track really drew me into it.

Null Device feature “Electrified”, from the album “A Million Different Moments”. The live version of this track didn't impress me at all, but I really liked the album version. This version presented here is a little slower than the eventual album mix, but it's still a very solid song.

“English License” was a underground hit mainly for the lyrics, in which European bands that tend to very creative with their use of the English language when they write songs in English. Make no mistake, this is a intense, hard-hitting electro-industrial track, but it's still very funny. The Gothsicles really have delivered a unforgettable song here…

ctrlshft have the tall order of following the Gothsicles here, and with “Half-Life” deliver a song with heavy vocal distortion and mid-tempo electro-EBM music. I liked the music on this track, but I really didn't care for the vocals at all. Too harsh and distorted to make sense of, much less enjoy.

Oneiroid Psychosis contribute the instrumental “First The Head, Then The Body”., a very eerie instrumental that sounds like it wouldn't be out of place playing in the background at a haunted house. A very atmospheric and moody track, it makes me wish their album wasn't out of print at Nilaihah records…

Caustic have another electro-industrial track, this one a very slow, and yet sinister sounding track. This actually is a very cool track. Very harsh and caustic, yet listenable and slow, which is a rarity amoung artists of this style. A full album of this type song would were on the listener quickly, but this one track is cool…

Stromkern, with “Ruin”, take the focus into a more pop-friendly vein, but still with the harsher elements. In fact, the vocals here are almost rap-like in the chorus, but it lends the song a very unique feel. I was very surprised.. I didn't expect to like this track, but it's actually very cool!

The compilation is closed out by The Dark Clan, with “LeStat In Cuba”. The Dark Clan sounds very gothic, reminding me of The Cruxshadows musically in some ways, but the vocalist reminds me of the singer from the band The Fontanelles, from the 'movie' Hobgoblins. Ok so maybe he's not that bad, but I am really unimpressed.

Overall though, this compilation shows that there's a lot of talented musicians represented here from the Madison area. This is one of several areas that seemingly have sprung form nowhere to recently become hotbeds of progressive electronic pop (and other electronic styles), and I look forward to hearing more from Wisconsin!