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On|Off|Man - Giant Backsteps

Giant Backsteps
by Dorin Mandelbaum at 16 May 2014, 1:52 PM

Though I’m not an official fan of Dubstep, I do see how this genre is evolving in the last couple of years into one that’s worth mentioning enough in its own right.

Since this Dubstep (re)evolution, it started becoming ubiquitous in many music genres that aren’t Dubstep, yet they still get a Dubstep flavoring treatment that when done well, sounds pretty sweet.

Call me outdated, but for me, hearing an Electro-Prog album incorporated with dubstep is a first, that’s why it was very intriguing for me to listen to the ON|OFF|MAN band’s new album “Giant Backsteps”. Not that it’s per se a “Dubstep Prog” album.

The track “Knox”, starts the album with alien sounds that made me imagine a flying saucer trying to land but not succeeding, after those comes a surprising eerie yet captivating piano riff. Awesome start, I’m already hooked. It goes on with very classic Prog rhythm breaks (you can never go wrong with that). This song already present all the musical elements that will follow the entire album: exquisite complex fatty-sounding jumpy bass lines (Simone Matteo Tiraboschi - you are amazing!), awesome syncopated drum beats and breaks mixed with electronic sounds and sequencers (Alessandro Orefice), heavy layered rhythmic keyboard parts (Stefano Diso), escalating guitar sounds and beats with or without delays and distortions (Giacomo Franzoso).

By the second track “The Core” we delve deeper into this concept of acoustic meets electric, and even hear some very 80’s retro keyboard sounds like the iconic Jupiter 8 Roland keyboard. Introduced for the first time in the album the famous trademark of dubstep: the wobbly bass. This track already came out as a video last year, it’s a spectacular art work made by 3D rendered animation that depicts a very disturbing looking odd figures resembling humans, they seem highly inspired by the works of Italian sculptor Alberto Giacometti (google it if you’re not familiar with his works). This video seems to criticize how the media, government and religion ties us down to our chairs and floods us with bullshit while we consume it blindly.

I couldn’t help wondering if the makers of the video were in any way influenced by the sentence that is usually attached to most “mindfuck” or “cannot be unseen” memes on the internet saying “when you see this you will shit bricks”, If you watch the video I’m sure you’ll understand what I mean.

 The third track is a segue track connected to the fourth and is named “Screaming Windows”, it plays ominous stressed mixed excerpts of newsbreaks in English and Italian to the background sound of many car alarms going off, the first newscast there mentions an earthquake (from the little Italian I know “terre motto”) the last newscast is already on the next track “Nightmare Knockers” and is about 9/11 reporting the explosion in the world trade center and the debris falling from the building. Though there’s a chance that this track tried being the most meaningful in the album since it’s not completely instrumental it ended up as the track that left the least impression on me.

The next track “Dichotomy” excited me by how intricate and its resemblance of classic Prog keyboard parts that just seem perfectly modernized here, it’s a very energetic fuel pumped track.

The album ends with more of a Jam vibe with “A Virtual Card for You” and the self-titled track of the album “Giant Backsteps”.

Overall this a great instrumental album, a new hybrid of Prog and Electronic, I also got a feeling this group is a killer playing live.

4 Star Rating

1. Knox
2. The Core
3. Screaming Windows
4. Nightmare Knockers
5. Dichotomy
6. A Virtual Card For You
7. Giant Backsteps
Giacomo Franzoso- Guitar
Stefano Diso- Piano, Synth and Laptop.
Alessandro Orefice- Drums
Simone Matteo Tiraboschi- Bass
Record Label: Areasonica Records


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Edited 16 January 2021

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