The Black Queen – Infinite Games (2018)

It’s no secret that I’m infatuated with synthwave these days (as well as podcasts, but I’ll discuss that later) and though The Black Queen aren’t completely synthwave, they definitely have plenty of elements born from that familiar eighties sound to keep me intrigued throughout. As soon as I listened to the album, I went back to listen to it again in the same sitting; which is a rarity for me as I am usually “one and done” with most pieces of music.

Opener “Even Still I Want To” melds romance and synth together in a way that is wholly reminiscent of Depeche Mode, with a vocal approach that doesn’t sound far removed from Chino Moreno’s more passionate moments in The Deftones. Clearly Greg Pusciato is taking influence from the best. “Thrown Into The Dark” sounds like a mix of The Cure and Depeche Mode, which is again, a hefty influence in the band. A strong chorus tops it all off aside from some space in which to meditate. “No Accusations” feels a bit warmer, maybe touching on early NIN. Also, did you catch the chiptune section there? Definitely an unexpected influence. I would have never believed that the Nintendo tunes of my childhood would be an important element in commercial electronic music. That being said, is anyone ever going to adapt the dreamy opening intro melodies for Astyanax? (They begin playing as soon as the game runs.) Copyrights or not, that’s a missed opportunity in my book.

“Your Move” is entirely airy, almost phantasmic. Simple beats may follow in the background, but it’s the voice within the frost that speaks volumes here. “Lies About You” seems to go back to the eighties roots of the band’s previous self-titled disc and it hits exponentially hard. This almost goes back to Wham and George Michael’s New Wave work. “Impossible Condition” seems to continue much in the same way, just for a bit longer as it nearly tops out at the seven minute mark. Utilizing the sound of steel hitting steel, it certainly feels like a proper eighties throwback. Interestingly, the format of the song is later discarded for an atmosphere that feels abyssal, like being thrown directly into the cosmos while distorted guitar riffs light the way for disoriented travelers. “Spatial Boundaries” brings us back to solid ground, but it’s on a neon moon, rather than the planet Earth. And honestly, I could not love this one enough. I actually began to trance out a little during the writing of this review, because there’s just something here that caused my endorphin levels to rise exponentially, like something of a flood.

“100 To Zero” follows a narrow plastic tube through the stars, guided by Pusciato’s glassy tones. “Porcelian Veins” on the other hand, always seemed like it wasn’t quite fleshed out enough. Maybe it’s the fact that the song is bit more organic and focuses more on the acoustic guitar and piano than the electronic synths that make up most of this album. However, the record ends with “One Edge Of Two” and that brings us back into the synthwave realms I’m a bit more familiar with. This cut is the longest on the disc, sounding like the kind of music that you’d want to play while making cold, cybernetic love to a sexbot. Listening further, I would also have to assume that said holographic love is taking place on a space station somewhere outside of Alpha Centauri. If Mass Effect needed a soundtrack for its steamy romance scenes, this would be that soundtrack.

Ultimately, I can say that Infinite Games might be ahead of its time. It’s a futurist’s soundtrack for lovemaking, and I’m a bit bothered that there aren’t any holographic AI’s or sexbots in which to bonk in the foreground of this music. But in about ten or twenty years, there might be an occasion where this album plays after my bot has had all of her updates. Even so, Infinite Games is just as powerful as the record that preceded it and I’m sure that from all of the positive responses gleamed from this one, there will be more great sexbot or holographic AI bonking music to come in the future.

I personally don’t care if The Dillinger Escape Plan ever comes back, because this is more viable to me as a listener. I always knew that Greg Pusciato could sing, but this cements it. Saying anymore would be a prime user error, so definitely go check out this record that may as well be called “lovemaking for spacefaring” at the link below.

(10 Tracks,46:00)

9.5/10

Purchase HERE (Bandcamp)

9.5

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