Achenar, in the natural world, is one of the top ten brightest stars in our sky here on Earth, and is the brightest star in the constellation Eridanus. The reason that Achenar may perhaps be the perfect name for this project is the fact that Achenar is also one of the oddest stars in our view from our humble planet — we’ll get to that in a moment. The project Achenar is a one-man experimental effort from Aviemore, Scotland resident Duncan Hemingway. His particular style of industrial rock music throws barriers to the wind and instead focuses on the genres and influences that he needs to accomplish the sound that he has in his mind. This record can go everywhere from breakbeat and glitch to a rather traditional, but still electronically-influenced sound. For Duncan, though the original release seemed serious in tone, this music is all about the fun aspect, as can be seen by the album title as well as the weirdness of the theme behind the music itself. This is where the star Acheron comes in. Achenar is the least spherical star in our sky and as such has an oblong appearance. Whereas most heavenly bodies maintain a spherical shape, this star simply doesn’t ‘play by the rules’ on a cosmic scale, spins far too fast, and can thus be seen as an outcast amongst other stars. In much the same way, the project Achenar is an outsider amongst electronic musicians.
While there is no booklet to help identify the theme behind the music, you can rest assured that it is every bit as oddball and looney-tune as the title implies. This is an incredibly short EP whose opening tracks lead one into a realm of breakbeat / glitchy goodness. Melodies aren’t musical but rather hinted at through a multitude of rhythmic patterns and experimental noise. The third track, “The Enthralled” finally gives voice to the music, a demonic seething voice encouraging the subject onwards with courage, claiming that a moment is almost at hand. The vocals are overtop of chaotic, non-linear electronic melodic passages that eventually sink into a bombastic droning deathmarch. Coincidentally, the fourth track is purely “story mode” with a complete lack of music and just speech. What sounds to be a robotic “super death explosion kitten” marches in and gives the narrator something and demands his side of “their bargain”, requesting at great joy “death!” for himself as he can be heard powering down. The tracks go on to focus on much the same — a breakbeat / glitch style for the instrumental tracks, and an industrial rock theme for the final vocal track, “Born into Steam”.
It’s hard to say whether this album accomplished any kind of goal, whether it ever had one to begin with or not, which seems to be the point to begin with. Though themed, there are so few actual vocal tracks that a cohesive story can hardly be brought to the forefront outside of mad-scientist-creates-crazy-death-kitten themes, this on top of the seemingly rambling-like lyrics. Despite these minor flaws, the release is enjoyable for fans who enjoy a more “fun” style of electronics. After all, the music is moderately complex and most of the experimental side of the release occurs in a wide area of the mix itself, signifying that if anything was impressive with Super Death Explosion Kittens, the productions was. I can appreciate the fact that there is a great deal of complexity put into the creation of the tracks on this album, but I feel that so much energy was put towards that side of the writing process that the actual theme that the music was built around suffered. The CD comes packaged in a lone red and black digipak that appears to look like a mangled book that has been tortured through a war. The releases on Earthen Records are downloadable as well as available on limited CD, and there are a few free tracks for download on the release page on the label website.
01) Arise, Minions!
02) Vocal Opposition
03) The Enthralled
05) Neon Storm
06) God Agog
07) Born into Steam