STOCHASTIC THEORY – Opposite Extremes
(2006 Sonic Mainline)
Don’t compare Stochastic Theory’s music to Depeche Mode or any other band of that era; Chuck Spencer will tell you he’s not interested in resurrecting any musical corpses. And don’t talk to him about any of the harder-edged fads that are presently spun in darker dance clubs either; Chuck get angry, Chuck smash. His new CD, Opposite Extremes, shows that he’s his own man in his own time.
In the bio section of the band’s website he pigeonholes his music as part of the synth-pop genre; the former Inferno DJ’s sophomore CD is indeed synthy and poppy, but there’s always been a shadowy side to his art. At first listen he appears to no longer be the person on his first CD who lamented broken relationships, as the music here seems sunnier and more uptempo. Check out his cover of R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion”; anyone who can make that song sound slightly more upbeat is obviously not in a rut. He continues to inject a lot of experimentation with guitars and electronics into his work, and thus nobody can accuse him of cloning.
A read of the lyrics shows that the darker side of Chuck Spencer is still very much alive. We’re taken on a trip deep into his mind and the overall theme seems to express a moderate sense of self-doubt, an individual who is questioning what is going on around him and in what direction he’s headed. To reference his debut album, Soliloquy, the demons apparently haven’t all been released, but the ones that are left seem to have cracks in their shackles. The term “opposite extremes” could refer to the juxtaposition of upbeat, aggressive synths and downbeat lyrics, which is common in this genre but here it takes some of the somber edge off of the vocals. Considering the level of catharsis going on, “aggressive” might be a better term than “upbeat”, especially in tracks like “Don’t Speak,” in which the moody guitars and smashing percussion don’t seem particularly full of glee.
If you have no problem with the pairing of powerful, catchy beats with solemn thoughts, then you won’t find much to fault here. There’s not as much low end in the mix as what one usually finds in an electronic composition, but again, don’t ask Spencer to care about how you classify him or even how he might classify himself. He’s his own person here, and this is definitely not more of the same old same old.