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Eksi Ekso - Archfiend CD (album) cover


Eksi Ekso


Post Rock/Math rock

3.00 | 1 ratings

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Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Diabolical mind

Eksi Ekso are a Boston based trio around for about a decade now though with line-up changes. Here we have a conceptual work based upon the life of a seriously evil individual, a person sometimes referred to as the first American serial killer. The album has been criticized in some quarters for the subject matter but for those of us more interested in music than lyrical content, it doesn't matter anyway. It's actually a fascinating if highly disturbing story.

Briefly, Herman Mudgett (the subject of the album cover) was a 19th century serial killer and extremely disturbing sociopath. Frankly I think guys like this are not worth the ink but this individual took depravity to unbelievable new levels. I'll leave most of the details to the books about him if you're interested, but what got me was that the guy actually built a huge building, a "castle" it was dubbed, a chamber of horrors, right in the middle of Chicago! He constructed rooms without doors, doors without rooms, crooked walls, stairways to nowhere, poisonous gas rooms, secret passages, and chutes by which to send bodies from one area to disposal areas in another. All in the middle of Englewood, with shops and public access on ground level. This guy took great pleasure in depravity and was said to be completely calm and amiable in the minutes preceding his hanging. His quick death was scuttled though when his neck didn't snap as planned and he suffocated slowly and horribly over 20 minutes. Karma, eh Herman?

I've seen Gabriel and Bowie mentioned in reviews of this album but the first reference that popped into my mind was actually Elbow, then maybe later Roxy Music and Field Music. The sound of the album is economical but not bare boned. While their previous work was reported to be very dense the band wanted a departure this time, to "showcases the three multi-instrumentalists alone at their leanest, most raw and honest." The mantra was "if we can't play it, it's not on the song." Starting with that palette the album is a success in sounding rich and pleasing, catchy, occasionally downright danceable. The contrast between the lyrical subject matter and the toe-tapping art rock occasionally enters the listeners thoughts. Rather than being a problem as one critic suggested it may well play right into the narrative of Mr. Mudgett. Beyond providing an odd, uneasy imbalance to the listening experience, one suspects Mudgett's existence was a game to him, and that he may very well have had an extra spring in his step after torturing someone. I haven't read the books yet so that is speculation on my part. In any case I see no problem with the musical approach contrasting the subject matter.

The one way this does recall Gabriel is in the unconventional construction evident through many songs. Keyboards and bass provide the protein of the song, guitars are used more sparingly. Effects, loops, and layered instruments concoct a sound that is not typical, this albums sounds unique. Another element that sets them apart is the vocal of Mr. Korkidis. He has the ability to go it low and deep, or falsetto, and sometimes harmonizes very effectively with himself. At times there are some piano lines and melancholy but not often do the proceedings veer into brooding. More often it feels like sophisticated pop/rock with a sense of 80s/90s pop even--Gold Cures is awesome fun! The album has generated an extreme divergence of opinion from different quarters of the music press, although I think most of the reviews are positive. While Americana UK used the phrase "minor masterpiece", Slug Magazine was absolutely brutal with it, unnecessarily so.

This is definitely a good album and a unique one but doesn't quite get to my 4-star shelf. Although I suspect it could be a grower the more time you spend with it, so who knows.

Finnforest | 3/5 |


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