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Blaqk Audio : Material (Blaqknoise, Kobalt Records)
Release Date: April 15, 2016
|Out Of The Blue
Publications Association, LLC
For those of you who don’t know, Blaqk Audio is the electronic side project of AFI’s Jade Puget and Davey Havok with
Material being their third album. I won’t sugarcoat it: Material fails to make any lasting impression with me. Nothing
on this record impresses, innovates, inspires, or even holds my attention for long. Now, I’m not saying that a piece of
music has to say something new to be great; there are many musicians who have shown that notion to be patently
false. At least AFI found a way to stand out among other groups and even if you think they belong in the soundtrack
of someone’s Twilight fan-fiction, AFI had a clear identity. Material fails to demonstrate anything that differentiates
itself or feels like it matters.
You don’t need to look very far to find a sonic precedent for this group if you want to play the comparison game.
However, Blaqk Audio sounds gutless compared to their forefathers. Certainly, Blaqk Audio tries to mix in brighter
elements of 80’s electronic music, but instead of sounding like Martin Gore having a good day they sound like
Tears for Fears on painkillers. Tracks like “First to Love” come off like plain whining as opposed to some sort of
open-hearted-but-ready-for-the-dance-floor confession. “Curious Friends” starts out interesting enough but has a
chorus that seems like it’s trying too hard to be club-ready.
If there are good things to be said about Material, it’s that I find the album to be catchy sometimes. “Graphic Violence”
has fun instrumentals that almost make me think about getting out of my chair. “Ceremonial (Burst into Stars)” is alright
and I might even consider it a good song, if it was less like a typical dance track circa 2012. Other than that I can’t say
there’s anything wonderful going on here, even if none of it is terrible.
Overall, Blaqk Audio sounds like they’re going for bright danceable music with a sinister edge on Material, but come
a lot closer to late 2000’s video game music. Music like this is rare in that while I can’t pinpoint everything that went
wrong, I can for sure point out that nothing here is right. It all practically goes in one ear and out the other. There are
no risks, just a version of AFI that lacks anything of note.