O-D-EX: Breaker [Album Review]

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Dirtnap Records [2024]

Album Overview: Breaker is the debut LP from O-D-EX, the latest project of musician Mark Ryan (Marked Men, Mind Spiders), along with Micah Why (Kitbashes, Mission Giant, Faux Fox). The album also features fantastic cover art that is simple yet fitting for the record.

Musical Style: O-D-EX takes a new direction from Mark Ryan’s previous works, replacing the analog push of Mind Spiders with harsh digital synthesizers and broken drum samples. The sound is edgy and raw, utilizing a very spontaneous-sounding final product that never takes a breath.

Evolution of Sound: Mark Ryan emphasizes the immediacy of this project, highlighting the use of his old Electribe sampler and a weird digital guitar synth pedal. The ability to quickly flesh out ideas without relying on a full band represents an evolution in Ryan’s creative process. The shift to harsh digital noise also signifies a departure from analog warmth in recording.

Artists with Similar Fire: O-D-EX’s sound is unique, but their groove can be traced back to Suicide, an influential American electronic and experimental music duo formed in 1970 by Alan Vega (vocals) and Martin Rev (keyboards). They are often credited as pioneers of the electronic and synthpunk genres. Cabaret Voltaire’s influence is also evident here, with their supreme electronic and industrial music from 1973. John Dwyer’s side project Damaged Bug or even last year’s Osees’ album Intercepted Message also has a similar beat. The electronic drone of Memphis’ Optic Sink also comes to mind when listening to Breaker.

Pivotal Tracks: The swirling and robotic “Ley Line” hangs on the edge of reality, while “Back In Form” has an intensity that sticks with you. The more industrial march of “Hydro Headlights” is another track that caught my attention with its dark loom and high shattering energy.

Lyrical Strength: The focus on “Breaker” is clearly the musical elements and experimental nature of the project. With that said, “Take my fear away” is the first brooding line you hear on the opener “Spring Break,” and those types of one-liners fill the record, balancing the different noises coming your way. Just like on “Hypno Headlights” when there is an almost scream of “Headlights shining down in my eyes” that cuts through the industrial pulse of the album.

Bandcamp / Preorder / Dirtnap Records’ Site

Thomas Wilde

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