Growing Old With Rock and Roll

Growing Old With Rock and Roll

Friday, December 8, 2017

Cyborg Asylum - Never Finished, Only Abandoned (2017)

Written by Jason Hillenburg, posted by blog admin

A mix of American and English influences powers the debut release from Cyborg Asylum, an electro post-industrial alternative rock duo featuring the talents of David Varga and singer/songwriter John Tumminia with some additional collaborators contributing from the fringes. Varga’s classical music education, production acumen, and vast experience providing music for television, film, video games, and commercials proves to be an indispensible tool for the twelve songs on the duo’s first full length release Never Finished, Only Abandoned. Varga’s musical vision is enough to ensnare the audience’s attention, but Tumminia’s lyrical and vocal contributions are the deciding factor in presenting this collection as an all-around rewarding listening experience. It’s, in turns, lush, melodic, ominous, and brimming over with emotion. Never Finished, Only Abandoned is a debut of immense artistry and sets up Cyborg Asylum as one of the most promising acts working in this vein that have come along in many years.

The album opener and first song Varga composed for the release, “Blitz”, kicks off with a bellowing air raid siren between transitioning into a dissonant and brief classically themed introduction replete with the sound of falling bombs. The song properly begins and we’re drawn into its churning web. Anyone expecting Cyborg Asylum’s material to neatly follow a path from point A to B will be disappointed – there are musical asides and flourishes galore lain over a relentless percussion and bass pulse. This fine instrumental is an excellent way to begin the album and contrasts nicely with the comparatively restrained second number “Synergy”. There’s a more traditional drive to this song, but it pursues challenging ends as well with the fluid course of its arrangement and the assortment of variations it applies to Tumminia’s vocals. The lyrics are exceptional and well suited to the arrangement. The brief, clocking in at just a little over two minutes, “War Machine” might promise to be a bulldozer of a tune based on title alone, but Varga and Tumminia instead opt for a much subtler feel and effects laden vocals.

“Angle of Incidence” is even shorter, not even reaching the two minute mark, but proves to be a gripping musical interlude regardless. It packs more musical firepower into that confined space than many much longer songs are able to muster. There are hints of a human voice straining to be heard through the electronic attack, but they are warped by streaking electronic colors that transform them into something much darker, even vaguely threatening. “Steampunk Highway” opens with a splash of synth driven atmospherics joined by acoustic and electric guitar tracks. Tumminia’s singing has one of its more emotive moments with this performance and backing vocals further strengthen its effectiveness. One of the album’s longer numbers, “Asymmetry” has an attention grabbing backbeat given some extra bit thanks to its forceful electronic attack. The arrangement frames Tumminia’s vocal in a variety of shades and permutations certain to hold listener’s attention. The finale, “Paradigm Shift”, is a sleek and uptempo number making great use of the interplay between guitarist Phil Jones and the percolating, assertive synth lines. The drumming has an invigorating live snap and Tumminia’s lyrics are among the album’s finest. Never Finished, Only Abandoned is a resounding first effort from this duo surging with boundless promise.

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