After the saddening finale to The Dillinger Escape Plan’s mind-blowing career, many began thinking what would be the next step for each of the members. Well, before such an event would occur, vocalist Greg Puciato already had his eyes set on his reflective lovechild of both eighties and modern music known as The Black Queen with guitarist Steven Alexander and Telefon Tel Aviv’s Joshua Eustis. Two years after their critically acclaimed debut “Fever Daydream”, the ambient synthpop trio have awoken once again, and have birthed yet another blissfully perfected piece of genius called “Infinite Games”.
A mysterious aura is already transmitted with a curvy bass and some soft wonky synths on Even Still I Want To, with Puciato softly whispering as the electronics slowly become louder in a lenient manner. Afterwards, we’re treated to what was the band’s first single to record – Thrown Into the Dark, which combines an atmospheric display of instrumentation with some programmed percussion that still feel very human. From there, the nostalgia that runs through the veins of The Black Queen comes into contact with more waves of ambient music that the band have previously created.
They would then channel a bit of a post-industrial, almost Weeknd kind of sensation to the production on the track No Accusations, which also go into detail with some 8-bit sounding hooks. Your Move’s almost polyrhythmic drum programming reminisces a “Mezzanine” era Massive Attack with an ethereal arrangement of mellow, low-key synths and bass, along with echoing layers of vocals much to the likes of Enya. One of the more upbeat tracks Lies About You features an intoxicating groove that also captures a highly nonchalant personality with Puciato’s stunning tenor range in the mix. Impossible Creation takes off as an emulsion of R&B and lo-fi dream pop with a nice use of arpeggios synchronising with some eccentric beats, later closing with a wall of guitars softly screeching like sirens and a mellow piano number nearly five minutes into the song.
Eighties nostalgia comes in the form of Spatial Boundaries, featuring a catchy instrumental hook via a minor key approximate to Tears For Fears and perhaps Hall & Oates. 100 to Zero and Porcelain Veins come as two shorter components to “Infinite Games”, however, they both breathe as two completely different sounding entities with 100 to Zero following the same electronic pattern as the majority of “Infinite Games”, while Porcelain Veins puts more spotlight on clean electric and acoustic guitars. Then closing off the record is One Edge of Two, which caters a mix of alternative R&B, Michael Jackson and a bit of a nineties Bristol trip-hop inspired vibe, and really takes after Maybe We Should off “Fever Daydream”, and works as a rather harmonious and straightforward conclusion.
While the dark atmosphere remains a reoccurring, yet captivating trait to the nature of The Black Queen, “Infinite Games” draws near to being a lot catchier to its predecessor “Fever Daydream”. The eerie state of their musical delivery that packs multiple electronic subgenres, R&B and evocative sensations has evolved and has developed as a more signature tone for The Black Queen as a whole. Most of Puciato’s vocal projection resembles the likes of David Gahan and Beth Gibbons, but he also pays homage to the current decade of alternative R&B including Kelela and Dvsn. With all of that coming into play, Puciato’s ability to incorporate such styles into a more concealed essence and really implement a lot of emotion into these songs shows his diversity as a musician and as a lover of music in general.
Eustis and Alexander both have more than just the knowhow when it comes to their use of creating something sound beyond professional through their digital audio workstation. Their knowledge and proficiency, making the most well-known electronic producers across the globe sound like a colony of one trick ponies. Not to mention that Eustis’s past material with Telefon Tel Aviv and Puscifer in mixing, mastering and overall production has made him out to be highly adaptable in just about any situation or mood that’s captured. All in all, The Black Queen have truly made another extraordinary mark in this decade of music which has really detailed the versatility of themselves as musicians. Not only that, I feel as though The Black Queen are one of the last entities left in this genre that can make an electronic record feel more human than ever before.
Pick up your copy of ‘Infinite Games’ HERE!