I am very happy to see the electronic side of prog being more openly accepted by the prog community over the last couple years. I know I’ve fallen off the edge into a seemingly bottomless pit of progressive electronic music, discovering the greats as well as the new bands in the scene. Bad Elephant Music is getting involved, not only with the fantastic We Are Kin, but now with a very different band named Reformat. Their new album “The Singularity” releases on April 20th, and it is yet another welcome addition to this subgenre.
The band consists of Luke Pajak, Russ Russell, and Jay Russell. Luke and Russ seem to be the driving force behind most of the instruments, while Jay handles the drums. The band lists Squarepusher, Faith No More, and a-Ha as influences, and I can definitely hear the playfulness and energy of those bands throughout Reformat’s sound.
The musical style is a great mix of burning electronic tones with progressive rock. You will hear plenty of “real” instruments, from thrilling guitars to pounding drums. However, the overall mood of the album is led purely by synth and keys, and so it feels almost like Vangelis or Tangerine Drum decided to go rock out one day. There is, however, a certain stylishness and groove to many of the songs that is totally from Reformat. So while their influences are obvious, there is an x-factor here that is totally original.
One thing I noticed about this album is how strong the melodies are. In many progressive electronic albums, the energy is low and the melodies play out over 13 minute tracks. Reformat tightens things up by creating fantastic hooks and central melodies, and the songs are much shorter and get to the point quickly. They do this while keeping the energy high with only a few spacier sections.
The first half of the album is like a roller coaster of ideas and grooves. A few of my favorites are in this part of the album. “System Terror” is a spiraling song that feels on edge and almost thrashy in an electronic sense. “Hot/Knives” feels very cinematic with a touch of horror to it. “Hypograms” is a wonderful track with a strong melody and a truly interesting dreamy section in the middle.
The band saves the best, more emotional tracks for the very end of the album. Just when you think the album is all about energy and kinetic electronica, the band reveals a side that is more subtle and grows more organically. “Down/Strata” includes human voices to contrast the synth, and it feels glorious and towering. “Clawcrane” has one of the best grooves on the album, and it really rocks. “Zeldan Skies”, however, is my favorite track. It is haunting and otherworldly, with a glorious melody front and center.
Reformat have impressed right out the gate here. “The Singularity” has unifying ideas, but also lots of variety and different moods. I’m happy to see Bad Elephant Music taking such strides to expand their repertoire, as well. If you love progressive rock and electronic music, Reformat is a no-brainer.
Find Reformat online: