REVIEW: Modern Day Alien – Arriving

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MODERN DAY ALIEN caught our attention in 2021 after having released two albums in 2020 that captivated our ears. We already discussed the first of these, Shipments,” so naturally, we had to come back and listen to “Arriving,” which was released independently on April 20th, especially considering MDA has now rebranded as BURNING HOLES IN TIME, with new music set for release this April!

Don’t be fooled by the mere nine tracks of this album, as the overall run-time is still over 55 minutes. Opening in a similar manner to “Shipments” with a mid-tempo and delightfully weird song, “Straw Arse” combines unusual samples with some strange vocal gibberish, resulting in a slow yet funky and quirky opening track. Following this, we have my personal favorite song from the MDA era, “Hessules,” which… I have to assume is some amalgamation of Disney’s Goofy and Hercules (as Goofy is “Hessu” in Finnish). What this has to do with the music, I have no idea, but the song itself is absolutely one of the most catchy and delightful things I’ve heard since I began exploring INFECTED MUSHROOM‘s discography. Starting on wonky notes, an earworm of a key melody picks up, leading into a traditional psytrance beat that kicks into serious overdrive just after the 3:45 mark. From there on out, just enjoy the ride at max volume. This is seriously the catchiest track in this genre since my recent discovery of OXIDAKSI and BLISS, easily on an equal playing field with these greats.

The album then moves on to “I Scream Time,” which begins on a sharp yet exploratory note, before some quirkiness pops in and the song kicks up, leading into a trance-y zone for a while as various strange effects add texture to the sound. An occasional melody pops in to draw the listener’s attention in a bit closer, never quite letting go. “Purple Lurker” is indeed a lurker, starting on a looming note and slithering around a bit with a deep bass line as the foundation. The pick-up is punchy but not too ferocious, and the little details help give it some nice flavor. This song features a collaboration with Canadian producer Octo Phasis; admittedly, this version has a softer mix and overall feel than the MDA-alone version – also known as “Purple Lurker IV” – which has a bit more character, energy, and punch to it than the album version.

“Martian Matters” is indeed a bit spacey and cosmic in feel, with a bit of a vibe as if someone was exploring outer space in a small ship, just seeing what’s out there. Its laidback groove is still quite textured despite the overall chill feel, and you could dance around to it if you were so inclined. “Every Explanation Stops Somewhere” starts by having a rather thought-provoking name, as it opens on an ambient note, taking its time to build up while nice little details are added throughout. There’s again something a little bit sci-fi in this slower ambient piece, feeling like it could be at home in the soundtrack of a video game, like some of the music by NERVOUS_TESTPILOT. It’s one of the more understated songs on the album, offering a bit of an aural rest before the breathtaking “Now I Must Stay.” This track starts on an atmospheric, synth-y, rhythmic note and builds in a standard psytrance manner for 3 minutes with little hints of fun samples, like the sound of creaking doors, before it introduces a really catch melody that’s really easy to groove out to.

The album then wraps up with “The Frog Trail” and “Salmon Ella.” The former is a more electronic-sounding piece with a lot of energetic layers, tinking backing sounds, and a fast pick-up that leads into a very trance-danceable piece that goes on a bit of an adventure into many different sounds in its 7-minute run-time. The latter starts on an apprehensive, even slightly ominous note – there’s almost something a little metal in it, though I couldn’t put my finger on what gives off that vibe. It quickly moves forward into a standard psytrance beat that is eventually joined by a fun electronic melody that quivers and whirrs as it moves around. There are key parts as well as almost ghostly lines in the backing sound as it continues, making for a lively final track that leaves the listener wanting more.

MODERN DAY ALIEN has certainly proven to be a powerhouse in the psytrance genre thanks to these two 2020 releases. Some of these songs have been playing on my playlists on repeat since I heard them and if this is only the beginning, I definitely cannot wait to hear where things go from here! If you’re looking for some great psytrance music to blast – sober or not – definitely check out these old MDA albums and keep your ears open for new music this spring under the new name, BURNING HOLES IN TIME!

Tracklist

  1. Straw Arse
  2. Hessules
  3. I Scream Time
  4. Purple Lurker
  5. Martian Matters
  6. Every Explanation Stops Somewhere
  7. Now I Must Stay
  8. The Frog Trail
  9. Salmon Ella

Lineup

Riku Karhu

Label

Independent

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