Chiasm was originally formed by Emileigh Rohn in the winter of 1997 in Detroit, MI. She took her experience as keyboard player for the gothic band Dragon Tears Descending and put her own creativity and talents to work for this project. After self-releasing her work under the album Embryonic, she was later signed by COP International in March of 2001. Shortly thereafter she released her debut album Disorder which gained a lot of positive press reviews and club play around the world and continues to be a fan favorite. Shortly after would follow a number of live performances and various releases on compilations. After a while we were presented with a remix album with Threat Level 5 which would help appease fans for awhile. However, brand new material wasn't really released in the form of an album until 2005 with the third full-length titled Relapse. Emileigh continues to perfect her style and music with each release and on-going work and in 2008 released another great album known as Reform, and later in 2012 an EP titled Obligatory and her album 11:11. Each of these releases feature the great tried and true sound that she has developed and honed over the years.
The style of Chiasm is a unique combination of fragile female vocals coupled with very thoughtful lyrics and pulsating electronics with various New Wave, Synthpop and Industrial elements. This unique sound is something that caught my attention from the first time I heard it and has grown on me to become one of my favorite electronic projects. It's nearly impossible to compare to other groups or to categorize because of the incredible variety and span. Leaving the music described as a hybrid of electronic music is about as far as is needed and leave the rest up to the listener to discover.
With this catchy and unique style, a noteworthy and successful history so far, we can only look forward to what the future can bring in the form of more albums and shows. In the meantime be sure to catch tracks on the Gothic Paradise radio shows.
11:11 - Review
I was so happy to hear of the release of this album. Each new work from this talented artist is a true gem and become great additions to any collection. This album seems to explode with creativity. It comes packed in a standard jewel case with a small booklet and the disc is packed with great music across eleven tracks (surprise!).
Right from the start the intensity of this album really shines through with "Petals" kicking it all off. For those that enjoy the harder, pounding side of the electronic music, this is a nice piece featuring an onslaught of percussion driving the various electronic loops. Each piece builds on the classic style that we've grown to come to know and appreciate as Chiasm. We get all kinds of loops and layers building and fading from subtle bleeps and percussion to the various layered, seemingly schizophrenic vocals from vocoded, harsh, whispered or soft and fragile.
As I listened to this album over and over to select favorite tracks for the radio shows and then to pick it all apart to analyze for this review, various pieces became immediate favorites while others worm their way into my heart and overtime become hypnotic and entrancing. While I think the entire album is really awesome and noteworthy, there are always a few favorites that stand out a bit. The aforementioned "Petals" is definitely one of these with it's aggressive percussion, solid electronic loops and variety of varied vocals. Following immediately is "Angry Tree" with it's driving beat, but I think what really captures my attention on this track are the various, mesmerizing synth textures from the ambient background symphonic textures to the more prominent loops that go on throughout the piece. All of this coupled with the softer, soothing vocals make it a really, almost relaxing, if not mesmerizing piece.
Fighting the temptation to write about each and every piece (believe me, it's hard with this album, each really has something solid to contribute to the album), we'll move on and just briefly mention "The Sea" which features a lot of that classic Chiasm style with the hypnotic looping electronics, but of note here are once again the schizophrenic vocals, sounding like a half-dozen school girls chanting their remarks. "Hideaway" really comes on quite strong with staccato synths driving alongside the heavy beats and layered vocals. As we move towards the end of the album, some more familiar pieces come out with "Reliance" and "Obligatory" which appear on the previously released EP. Each of these are solid additions to the album and lead us to the finale in "Space". This final track creates a perfect ending to this album as it slowly builds on the pulsating bass and heavy beats while the seemingly distant, spacialized vocals soar over the music.
Overall, this is another great album, it's hard to find any flaws, and harder still not to go into detail describing each piece and all it has to offer to the album. Emileigh continues to create great music and it's really a treat to have yet another album to enjoy. If you want just another electro-pop album with 4 on the floor and the typical song structure, look elsewhere, because here you have some truly great talent and creativity to enjoy!
Obligatory EP - Review
I'm so pleased that Emileigh has decided to continue to create great new music. This EP is a teaser for the new album due out later this year that I'm sure we'll feature here as well. But it's just great to have a small collection of great new music showcasing her excellent vocal and musical composition talents with the intense layers of electronics with fragile vocals. On this EP we get a nice collection of five pieces featuring some new original tracks as well as some great remixes of these works.
The album kicks off with the classic style we've grown to love over the years in the form of "Don't Panic". It's hard to pick a favorite among these excellent tracks, but this one definitely ranks up near the best of best among these pieces. It has all the classic Chiasm style with pulsating and throbbing layered electronic loops over a heavy beat and a mix of various layered vocals. The title track appears in two versions the "2.0" version and the "DYM Remix". The first is the classic style, somber, fragile vocals floating softly over the various mid-tempo percussion and synths. The "DYM Remix" is a fast-paced fun track which comes on very heavy, bringing out the darker, moodier potential on this track with a dance-friendly beat and various experimental electronics. The EP wraps up with two remixes of "Reliance". Both are fairly down-tempo, but quite dark, moody and intense. The "Eric Chamberlain Remix" focuses on the heavy bass that slowly moves along and builds with the heavy synths coupled with the somber vocals, all lasting nearly seven minutes. Red Flag puts together the second remix and focuses on the styles that we would expect from this legendary band, moody synthpop, more up-beat and heavier percussion coupled with the undulating synths.
With that, the EP comes to a close and I for one am left wanting more from this talented artist. These are great tracks, the variety of remixes are great and they are all in and of themselves great remixes, remaining true to the original styles in many ways, not detracting from the original quality, styles or mood, but rather building on them, creating something fun and interesting that will be enjoyed as a new classic for many years to come.
Reform - Review
This excellent album marks the third in the trilogy of Disorder, Relapse and now Reform. We've seen as her work has progressed and grown through these three dynamic albums and is complete and perfected in this latest work. Packaged in a regular jewel case with a small booklet of photos and credits, the music comes in the form of ten stellar tracks spanning all of the myriad of styles we've grown to love and enjoy from Chiasm over the years. Each album continues to grow on me each time I listen and individual tracks stand out more and more as timeless treasures.
The album kicks off with "Deny" which has a taste of experimental noise mixed with standard electronic layers and Emileigh's sweet voice, also layered on this track and throughout others on the album. The beat remains dance-friendly on several pieces, though the percussions remains a little more subtle and just sort of moves the listener on through the darker moods of "Soulprint" and "Unity" and gradually becomes more solid with "The Caffeine Cycle" and "Reform". All of these are solid tracks in their own right from the moody nature of "Soulprint", things get a little more dynamic in "The Caffeine Cycle" as the intensity and rhythm picks up. All of this builds to a sort of climax with the title track mixing in several experimental layers of electronics with a powerful beat and harsher, distorted vocals.
As if reaching a critical mass, the music collapses in on itself with the beautiful, almost ethereal piece "A Section of Time". This is not necessarily a typical style from Chiasm but very welcome nonetheless and we've heard it before on previous albums, this soft, piano or in this case the addition of harp as well over the subtle electronics that provide a soft, but solid backdrop. Previously with "Someone", "Still" and "Incision", now we have this gem to add to our ethereal collection. These soft moods are short-lived as we delve right back into the electronic world of "Deceivers" with robotic vocoded vocals adding a colder, more mechanical mood to the music. "Won" and "Incubate" sound so much like they should belong on Disorder with their unique percussion and subtle electronic layering with the soft vocals keeping it all so dreamy and disconnected. This brings us to the finale of the album which at first you might think is another soft ethereal piece, but beat by beat the intensity builds as one layer is added to another until it becomes another powerful piece.
A few final thoughts as we wrap up the album and review. I feel like it's not so much that the style or maturity of Chiasm has improved or changed over the years, but my own perception of the music presented as each album mixes so well and truly belong together and each is a powerful part of a complete collection. Also, with Emileigh's professional background, each song has deep and meaningful lyrics, personal in many ways and probably beyond the grasp of most of us less intelligent beings. But all of this together is what creates a solid album with each new release and this is no exception.
Relapse - Review
It's been an incredibly long and anxious wait for this new album, but the wait has paid off and fans are rewarded with an excellent work. Relapse takes off where Disorder ended with pulsating electronics, thoughtful lyrics, fragile vocals and a full range of musical styles in the form of a dozen excellent tracks. The album does consist of some previously released work, re-recorded and others remixed by fellow label-mates Zentriert ins Antlitz and Threat Level 5.
One of these re-recorded tracks was the title track for the first demo album for Chiasm, "Embryonic". This re-recorded work is the ultimate in pulsating synths and dark electronic music that Chiasm is great at. This serves as the introduction to the album which quickly picks up the tempo for a couple of upbeat and pensive tracks.
While exploring the latest news and information from the Chiasm website I ran across stories about selected tracks from this album and found them interesting. The reader should reference these while listening or going over this review. The next selection on the album is one of these referred to with a brief history. "Surrender" is one of the more danceable tracks on the album and one of these that there is more info and background presented. With this info it takes on a fuller meaning as the driving percussion and electronics are mixed with various samples from the war and Emileigh's emphatic vocals. "Delay" follows and is another of these with more information. With the extra background many readers will be able to relate with the lifestyle of being a prisoner of time on this excellently written and produced track.
"Rewind" continues on in this fast-paced, dance-friendly manner and is easily one of my favorite and catchy tracks on the album. The vocals are more melodic and softer than on many other selections and the addictive synth loops layered over the moving beats are captivating. This gives way to a side of Chiasm that I imagined existed but have never heard before. "Still" is an exploration in ethereal beauty leaving out the pulsating synths and various industrial or synth elements for dreamy piano loops and various ambient soundscapes. The only thing really familiar are the smooth vocals which captivate the listener and provide something for me from Chiasm to add to my collection of heavenly voices and ethereal music. "Incision" is very similar with guitar loops instead of piano and also along the smooth, dreamy ethereal styles. This is a nice turn for Chiasm and an excellent break from the more intense nature of this project we're used to hearing.
"X-Ray" is more experimental than anything from this project we've heard before. However, once you get through the larger variety of percussion and electronics and get down to the core of the music and lyrics, it's the thought-provoking message behind it all that is the common thread that brings it together. After the beautiful selection "Incision", the pace picks up again with the previously released track "Phobic" which has grown to be a favorite dance-track of mine. The album begins to wrap up with "Needle" winding down the intensity but still presenting that pulsing, rhythmic captivating music. This fades and gives way to another previously released work, "Chosen Fate" which has become popular in the industrial scene with it's release on the Resist The Command 2 Compilation. The catchy rhythms and vocals shine through on this dance-friendly work and another favorite of mine over the years.
That wraps up the original mixes on this album and leaves us with the two bonus remixes by label-mates. Both mixes border more on the trancey or techno styles than industrial or synthpop, but are still captivating and worthy of appearing on this album. The mix of "Surrender" by TL5 is even titled the "Dark Techno Mix" and stands true to it's name. While this is a nice mix with plenty of trance and techno elements really picking up the instensity of the original, it is the presentation of the original elements that really give it's foundation. The remix of "Rewind" is extremely captivating and aptly titled the "Floating Tears Mix". It starts off full of dreamy ambient elements and smooth synths providing a tapestry and background for the smooth vocals. It gradually picks up and leaves the listener breathless over the 9 minute duration of the track. This is truly an excellent remix.
Overall, Emileigh has out-done herself on this work. As pointed out in the press release for this album, she has written the music, the lyrics, recorded and produced the album all on her own. This is a feat for any musician and to have an album released of this caliber is incredible. I highly recommend it, so don't hesitate to pick it up!
Divided We Fall - Review
This album just serves to remind me why I like the debut album Disorder so much. While this is a remix album featuring remixes by Threat Level 5 of Chiasm's songs, and vice versa, I'll concentrate here mainly on Emileigh's contributions.
With the entire debut album to choose from, I think any song would have been perfect to remix for this work. As it is we're presented with 5 tracks from each artist. We're presented with the Chiasm tracks first with "Disorder" kicking it all off. The remix stays very true to the original mix with added smooth synths that really bring out Emileigh's emotional and smooth vocals. "Formula" is one of my favorites on the original album and the remix leaves the track intact, but goes quite a bit further than the previous in remixing it. The addition of The Normal's "Warm Leatheret" layered over the original is a unique idea that I never would have thought of, but surprisingly enough it works out quite well. "Isolated" is a very thought-provoking track that the remix once again does a nice job of bringing that emotion and pensive nature out. I really enjoy the additional strong percussion added to "Transparent" which really makes this track stand out from the original. Finally we're treated to "Liquefy" which deviates the most from the original version detracting slightly with the interspersed percussion. Overall, I think that TL5 did an excellent job of remixing these tracks.
Next we're presented with Chiasm's remixes of the TL5 tracks. I have to admit that I've never been a huge fan of TL5 so it's hard to win me over on these tracks. The addition of Emileigh's vocals to these tracks adds quite a bit to them. The unrefined nature of Louis's vocals are hard to stifle, but she manages to do it on several tracks especially with these voice over recordings. However, it's still just not quite enough to compensate and make them much more enjoyable. She also does a good job remixing the tracks, adding her own unique style to each of them.
To summarize, TL5 manages to create some nice remixes, but he started with excellent works of art. Chiasm managed to soften and morph rough and unrefined tracks into something a little more accessible, but when given the original vocals, it's hard to do much more. However, I think this album is worth having just for the 5 remixes of the Chiasm tracks.
Disorder - Review
It has been over two years since this album was first released and I first wrote my review of it. I remember this was also one of the first reviews I wrote and so as I reviewed the original I've found that my opinion has changed slightly and I feel I'm able to express myself a little better now. So, with that in mind and the chance to review the remix album and a new album coming out soon, I thought I would revisit this debut release.
When you get a very large CD collection and you are spending a lot of time listening to the latest releases, sometimes the others fall by the wayside and start to gather dust. I use this as a good gauge for later rating how good an album really is, how well it stands the test of time. This one continues to get a lot of play from me as I dig it out every once in a while and continue to include tracks on my radio shows and at the club from time to time. It's something that I still enjoy and will do so for many more years to come.
"Formula" kicks off this stellar album full of slow pulsating synths and pounding beats in a mid-tempo fashion all sugar coated with Emileigh's angst-ridden vocals. Each track builds on this fashion and style as most delve stay with the slower pace, but dig deep with layers upon layers of electronics and smattering of guitars here and there. "Fight" was the track that really cuaght my attention the first time I heard this album and it still stands out as one of the more accessible tracks, probably because of the more generic driving dance beat that blends well with other EBM groups. But with this aside, the entire album has something extraordinary to offer.
If you take a step back and think about the Violator years in the career of Depeche Mode, I think that ballad-like style is reflected here in many tracks, yet taking an extremely brooding fashion expressed through the thought-provoking lyrics and Emileigh's velvet voice. "Isolated" and "Transparent" are possibly the epitome of what I'm talking about here. Based on her own experiences, she manages to put together a story or message through captivating electronic elements and slow, throbbing beats.
If you've heard anything from Chiasm on the many compilations, the remix album or any other place that she has appeared and you've enjoyed it, you'll definitely want to pick up this album. I think this is where it all begins and there's no better place to delve into this excellent music.
Label: COP International