23 May 2009

IAMX: "Kingdom of Welcome Addiction"

Chris Corner is best known for being one of the two founding members of Sneaker Pimps (Liam Howe being the other); he has been a leader in trip-hop, electronica, and downtempo. But we are here to discuss his side project, IMAX, and his recent release titled “Kingdom of Welcome Addiction” (19 May 2009). In IAMX, Corner assumes different personas, in order to write from outside of himself. This allows him to cover such diverse topics from unicorn sex to death. Combining the best elements of synthpop and electropop, and usually neglecting what pleases radio programmers, his approach is essentially that of a pop genius, influenced by a wider ranger of music than is usually assumed.

The first album by the Sneaker Pimps was entitled “Becoming X” (19 August 1996). The “X” is never clearly defined, not even in the title track, just an “incomplete, the consequence of something to be.” It is that mantle that Corner embraces in his side project: “IAMX” – that is, “I am X.” “X,” that infinite variable, the infinite possibilities, this is the nature of the music on “Kingdom of Welcome Addiction.” Though Corner admits that he is not into destructive addictions anymore (perhaps an allusion to drugs), there are many other kinds of addictions: love, food, masochism, and even unicorn sex.

With provocative lyrics, “Kingdom of Welcome Addiction” has a bit more substance than previous albums. Containing beautiful transitioning and a slight change in mood throughout the album, “Kingdom of Welcome Addiction” exudes a feeling of nostalgia (as the sounds and arrangements are reminiscent of the 80s) and a bit of eerie sadness (as much of the topics are heavy). True to his DJ and songwriting mentality, the album is self-produced, which is the pattern of all of his solo albums, ensuring that the album has the mark and feel that he conceives. (By the way, on the stage, the flamboyant get up just amplify the uniqueness of how each of his “personas” see the world.)

The album is extremely catchy, continuously hooking you with synth sounds, guitars, and beats that only a DJ could think of. It gets better and better as one moves towards the middle and latter tracks. The first single, “Think of England,” was released as a free download. The free download adds to the “free music” movement. (What would Fat Bob say? I mean there is a big free music debate going on within the industry. Link.) Regardless, this is a perfect lead single – it represents the album well. As quirky and simple, yet intricately arranged, as all the songs on the album, there is a feel of ambiguity, the kind that artists like Annie Lennox has capitalized on. For instance: “In twilight hours of nervous rest, I bought the beast before believing the threats; in a foreign field I cut all regrets, but the poisoned stories just repeat themselves in fucked-up mess.”

The lyrics are profound, intriguing and poetic eeriness to listen to. For instance the Nietzsche-esque line: “God is dead, we get to sleep tonight, walk with me into the truth, out of your lies. Man equals woman. I'm just the messenger don't shoot me down” (“The Stupid, the Proud”). From the first listen the album is appealing, but the appeal only gets greater with each following listening, as you learn the words and are anxiously waiting the change ups.

Track Listing
1. Nature of Inviting
2. Kingdom of Welcome Addiction
3. Tear Garden
4. My Secret Friend – featuring Imogen Heap
5. An I For an I
6. I Am Terrified
7. Think of England
8. The Stupid, the Proud
9. You Can Be Happy
10. The Great Shipwreck of Life
11. Running

Keep up with IAMX at their homepage, MySpace, and Facebook.

Here is “Think of England” from IAMX YouTube Channel.

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