Nothing is ever sincerely original in today’s musical climate, with so many genres having been explored and pushed far beyond their limits and into something else entirely. To make a claim that anything genuinely innovative is being concocted, even in underground circuits, is quite bold. Even so, IAMX’s formula of neurotic electro filtered through androgynous screeches, dance vibes, rock attitude, and swinging cabaret is difficult to compare to anything else currently happening. And 2013’s The Unified Field pushes them further into their delightful abyss.
IAMX mastermind Chris Corner (formerly of Sneaker Pimps) has described this project as being his summation of sexual identity, drugs, death, decadence, intoxication, and gender bending. This description fits the mold of his music well for anyone who has yet to lend an ear to past singles like “Ghost of Utopia” and “Spit It Out.” The Unified Field begins with classic IAMX pyrotechnics in “I Come With Knives,” shifting between barely controlled verses and an explosive chorus of shrieks and pulsating electro rock. The bulk of this latest record, however, takes a turn from the trademark hysteria that Corner has cultivated throughout the years. While tracks such as “Land of Broken Promises’ and “Animal Impulses” pay tribute to those schizophrenic outbursts, The Unified Field pursues a noticeably subdued path. At times weary, Cornell expresses his love of misery in “Sorrow” through somber fuzzy synths and distant beats. The title track is loving in all its soft dance-friendliness, celebrating the synergy of all the psychosis in the world. Even the album’s noisier moments like “The Adrenalin Room” and “Walk Through the Noise” never quite reach the fury of anything found on Kingdome of Welcome Addiction or The Alternative. This album reaches into sonic pockets that Cornell has never fully delved into on past efforts, and the results are delightfully ambient and exploratory.
The Unified Field ends on a strangely comforting note with “Trials,” which rejoices in the lessons taught through pain and suffering. It is the perfect linchpin for a record that signals growth in Corner’s music and self, and paves the way for a whole new era of IAMX to come. While not as piss and vinegar as past albums, The Unified Field is a remarkable evolutionary step in an artist that just might be an innovative and unique force in today’s countless waves of noise.