Nothing is quite as effective—not love, not drugs—as emotional or mental breakdown to inspire artistic expression. It is particularly fortuitous when that kind of affliction befalls a really talented artist like Chris Corner, the composer, producer, multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and video artist fronting the synthpop group IAMX. His sixth album, titled Metanoia, meaning a profound, spiritual, transformation, reportedly represents his recovery from depression and insomnia. Indeed, the fervor and creative vigor of this 11-track opus bespeaks just such a wrenching transformation.
Fans of IAMX need not fear, however, that Chris Corner has changed his style of vocal clarity as well as ferocity. On the contrary, more than any prior work, this album captures the inimitable power and frank beauty of his androgynous, wide-ranging and confrontational singing, whether fashioning delicious hooks, operatic flourishes or delicate autobiographical narratives.
All of this is incorporated in the most mesmerizing, irresistible dance grooves and complex synthetic rhythms. Dance clubs will treasure this repertoire, whether playing galloping, unstoppable juggernauts like “No Maker Made Me,” or the plodding, slow-paced “Hello Melancholia.” Noteworthy are the bluesy, yet danceable eighth track, “Cruel Darkness Embrace Me” and the wild, wanton and relentless “Aphrodisiac.”
Every track is written in a minor key, which confirms the emotional depression that inspired the entire opus. Some tracks feature a mournful female chorus, others cadenced scraping industrial noises. Did I mention that this is dark, really dark—even deliciously dark music?
At least 10 tracks feature memorable, seductive melodies and compelling tempos. It lends itself to exceptional listening or dancing pleasure. Gloomy as the entire album seems, if it purports to represent actual recovery, I don’t want to know what that depression was like.
In A Word: Onyx