Angels & Demons
Musical Bricolage as Metaphor
“You see things; and you say, 'Why?' But I dream things that never were; and I say, 'Why not?'”
George Bernard Shaw
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
After several wasted hours, I realized that the movie I had chosen to recommend this week, a movie that had shown so much promise in its first hour, was turning out to be such a putrid gym bag that I couldn’t possibly recommend it to my readers. And I had nothing else on my desk. And the deadline loomed.
Today, what should arrive in the mail but one of the most significant albums I’ve heard this year. Yes, God takes care of fools and children!
Cybiont is this guy in New Zealand who does some pretty engaging stuff with music. In the noble tradition of Devo, he has based his oeuvres on an evolution-related theory, and in his case the theory is not quite as cockamamie as that on which Devo was founded. Angels & Demons is his second album.
At first listen, the musical nods and allusions seem like a pile of musical rubble left over from the condemned edifices of Tom Waits, David Pritchard, Steve Reich, Kurt Weill, The Velvet Underground, and Kraftwerk, among others. Call it post–dance-ambient-industrial-electronic-experimental-rock-noir if you will, it’s simply a really good listening experience, full of substance and originality.
As T. S. Eliot proved, a bricolage is not always an assortment of borrowed elements haphazardly piled on top of each other, but can be a means of making sense of chaos, of drawing chaos into the realm of the imagination in order to plumb its meaning. Collecting aesthetic tidbits from multiple sources, a kind of cultural pack-ratting, can, in the right hands, become something as fascinating and enriching as Angels & Demons.
Cybiont sings in a deeply expressive and resonant voice, and his accent (the question of whether or not this is an artistic flaw just adds to the fun) gives it that surreal Weimar touch.
The name “Cybiont” emerged from the teachings of French thinker Joël de Rosnay, who hypothesized that the next (or imminent) step in evolution is the formation of a massive brain in which humans function as neurons and in which, to paraphrase, technology and nature serve as glial cells. And yes, trying to get your head around this can aid your appreciation of many of the lyrics here.
A stunning example is the song “Pig,” a grinding blues anthem suggesting the place of the individual in the universe: “I am a pig, singing to the moon (4x) /Are you a pig, singing to the moon?” There is rhythmic panting in this song that will (sorry) totally blow you away.
And that’s just the beginning.
Angels and Demons is a fascinating album. Cybiont's accent may put some people off at first but a few listens is needed to truly appreciate what he is doing here. The music itself is psychedelic, atmospheric and experimental in parts. This is the kind of music that demands your full attention. Not easily definable, Angels and Demons is full of different sounds that writhe together to form some of the most intriguing songs I've heard. There are elements of rock, reminiscent of 70's bands and Cybiont is proficient in the more traditional elements of musicianship. It is definitely the more alternative aspects of the music that inspires repeated listens, as well as the lyrics.
More like poetry, the lyrics explore the human condition, spirituality and human nature. Concerned with the planet, poverty, tyranny, injustice, love, the human soul and a host of spiritual concerns, the lyrics coupled with the music combine to make a listening experience.
For instance track 2, Hold On, is all about holding on to your humanity. The verses are bleak and punishing with a relentless drum beat but then the chorus is uplifting and hopeful. The music perfectly reflects the emotion and meaning of the lyrics. Demon on My Shoulder is darker and more disturbing. Cybiont's voice sounds menacing as the music and sound escalates. The very next song however, Angel in My Closet, is more mournful. It starts of sad and sorrowful but as Cybiont sings about letting love be free, the music builds and becomes joyous.
Angels and Demons is a refreshingly unique offering of spiritual and insightful lyrics, coupled intelligently with amazing, layered music and sounds. The emotion inherent on the songs is undeniable as is the honesty of the lyrics in reflecting the thoughts, feelings, observations and spiritual beliefs of Cybiont.
Reviewed for Amplifier by Jo Tindling
Often, when a an album is classified as "intriguing" it usually means the same as when you classify a girl as "friendly". However, in the case of Cybiont's 'Angels and Demons' such euphemisms go flying out of the window. In fact this album goes beyond intriguing, it is fabulously fascinating.
Having released a debut album 'A Trilogy Of Random Thoughts And Considerations' so recently as October 2009, Cybiont's prolific song-writing has enabled a second helping just 6 months later. More importantly, the quality is on a par with quantity - 'Angels and Demons' is a clear improvement on the original trilogy, especially in musical terms, where the collaborations have certainly produced the desired effect. The result is an album which is atmospheric, dramatic and well-balanced from start to finish.
Lyrically, Cybiont still has a lot to say. There are no hollow melodies here, so you will need a few listens to fully appreciate the songs' value. Given the intricate nature of the album you find yourself drawn deeper into Cybiont's Angels and Demons which each listen and tracks like 'Hold On', 'Angel In The Closet' and 'Die Tomorrow' will all stand out. However, it is 'Butterflies' which probably sums the general feel of the album up the best, a haunting track which gives you a sense of what is going on in 'cybiontville'.
In an age where 'music by numbers' is the order of the day, it's refreshing to hear something like Angels And Demons.
NME-Europe rating: 8.25/10
Top Track: 'Butterflies'
The second release from New Zealand based artist Cybiont conjures up bits and pieces of art, electronic and psychedelic rockers from Nine Inch Nails to Tangerine Dream to Gogol Bordello, then tones it down a few notches. The result is a spaced-out collection of sixteen tracks best listened to in a smoky, candlelit room at 2 a.m. Ultimately, though, it’s more Donovan Atlantis brocade jacket meets Metal Machine Music meets New Age poet than anything else. The lyrics explore all aspects of human nature, some with a wistful quality (“Maybe Tomorrow”) while others are downright snarky (“American Cowboy”). Angels and Demons would make a good soundtrack for a psychological horror film.
Cybiont: A Trilogy of Random Thoughts and Considerations (Cybiont)
First let it be noted that this album by a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Northland is not an easy proposition, and nor does it give up its manic diversity that easily. The title is some kind of clue and you may well think, as I do, that someone outside the project might have been brought in for a little editing as Cybiont doesn't seem capable of it himself.
That said however, there is much here to be engrossed by, not the least the dramatic two-part opener from Talking to Birds which kicks in like a slightly menacing slice of early Eighties post-punk art-pop (Wire, Magazine, Talking Heads) with a little early Peter Gabriel thrown in, then morphs into a hook-laden if slightly bent pop tune . . . and it goes straight into a hammered piano piece which is the second track Bring Back (That Song) Birdy which acts like a dramatic and elegant coda.
And that's only the first six minutes.
This seems like a concept album also: the first part is heroically entitled An Atheist's Prayer to People and the Planet, the second is Prelude to Life, there's an Interlude then Rebellion of the Misfits before the "Finale".
Ambitious -- and musically so too: there is what sounds like woodblock and synth percussion under the edgy Do the Rich?; later there are echoes of early Nick Cave in the gloomy cabaret-noir stylings; stuttering guitars and portentous sounds like Velvet Underground; prog-rock and declaimed lyrics; unnerving Pere Ubu-type sonics; some Cirque du Soleil-meets-te reo . . .
This is a lot to assimilate and not all of it works, but what does is quite striking and this an album to listen up to, and a name to look out for.
French scientist and visionary Joel de Rosnay, argues that we are on the verge of a profound evolutionary leap. This next stage in the natural progression from lower to higher levels of organization – cell into organism, organism into population, population into ecosystem – is the cybiont. A planetary super organism made up of all humans, machines, organisms, networks, and nations. A planetary brain - with humans as its neurons.
CYBIONT is an earthling, located in New Zealand. The artists started to compose music in 2008.