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Go to the Echo Image website  Echo Image - Compuphonic [A Different Drum / Bloodline - 2001]

Echo Image apparently is the newest synth-pop / EBM sensation from Norway. In September 2001 the band signed with the Hard:Drive label, home of Apoptygma Berzerk, and later this year they will be supporting the same band during their European tour. I couldn't wait until that tour, since I was eager to hear if Echo Image is really that good.

"Compuphonic" is Echo Image's debut album, after releasing a couple of singles. The band consists of Pål Magnus Rybom, Fredrik Hansen and Trine Bilet. Their first single "Need To Be Proud" was actually produced by Stephan Groth, the man behind Apoptygma Berzerk, and I think this helped this young band a lot to got some kind of reputation. They write the music themselves however, and the most convenient description would definitely be "synth-pop". I do not use "EBM" deliberately because it simply isn't. It certainly leans towards it, but Depeche Mode is a better comparison than Apoptygma Berzerk. It is a lot softer and more poppy than I expected, but that maybe what the band wanted: to appeal to a larger listening audience. But I really can't say that this is a good thing...

Sure, the album has really good tracks. The opener (after the intro) for example, called "Standing Alone", is an excellent song, combining techno and dance beats with beautiful keyboard melodies and sweet male vocals. The occasional use of the female vocals of Trine – especially in choruses – is a success as well. Other good tracks are the obvious singles "Need To Be Proud" and "Skulk", definite dance floor hits if they aren't already. But some tracks like "Messing With Love" made me laugh my ass off because of the sappy cheesy commercial pop sounds.

At least, that was my first impression. After a few listens however I even started to like the "happy" and "poppy" tracks, and this proves that Echo Image is one of the most talented bands in the synth-pop genre. The thirteen tracks (of which one is a hidden track) are varied, dance-friendly and freshly sounding. It surprises me that singer Ryborn has an excellent English pronunciation for a young Norwegian, bringing forth lyrics about the usual synth-pop theme, love. Not very innovative, but the smooth and polished vocals compensate a lot.

This release does not live up to my expectations, as I imagined something harder. But that is only my personal taste, and I'm sure it does live up to some else's expectations. Echo Image is a band that everybody should check out, this trio is indeed the sensation of the year 2001.

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

Justin Faase
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