ThouShaltNot
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ThouShaltNot

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""Worlds beyond""

The entire album is fabulous, and while the group still melds the best of ambient, techno, trance and synthpop together youÕll find this album a bit more upbeat than their previous Ð yet retaining itÕs dark edge and ego. From the opening Inside of You, In Spite of You, the CD immediately grabs your attention and forces you into the melding programming. The complication factor of the music, with virtually an uncountable mass of rhythmic pulsations, melodic interludes and the additional guitar and keys provided by their newest bandmate, has jumped tremendously from what it was previously. Their previous albums were already wonderfully mixed, but now with the duo being a trio itÕs become far more energetic.

Highlighting a few of the tracks off of The White Beyond is extremely difficult as they are all well made. From the percussive chaos-yet-control of Come a Time to the smooth whistles that permeate We Could have Flown Like Pollen that suddenly dip into sudden clefts of brutal rhythms, the album as a whole is a tremendous success on so many levels.

A big highlight for me on their debut as well as Holiness was the lyrical content. Much of the vocals on The White Beyond are sweetly sung and beautifully choreographed together into well done harmonies, while the content defies the beauty of the voice with paradoxes, questions and dark imageryÉÓAnd now youÕre screaming bloody murder breaking promises and breadÓ from the fifth track, The Ocean Is Your Voice, being one example. Sung sweetly, telling darkly.

To check out some of what I assume is JeremyÕs piano work, be sure to pop to track seven, 100 Generations. Soft and haunting melodies accompanying AlexÕs smooth vocal delivery with yet more well written poetic lyricsÉÓSwallow up the universe till all the killingÕs done.Ó Sublimely smooth, yet verbally dark, 100 Generations is a well balanced work of art Ð one of many on this album. ItÕs so rare when something so gloomy can be so beautiful. And what would a Thou Shalt Not release be without an experimental interlude like The Insistence on Solid Floors? A softer form of drum Ôn bass combined with quietly syncopated piano, the name of the track alone provokes your head to go running on thought trains. This quickly segues into one of the more upbeat tunes on the album, G.L.M. (seemingly short for Girls Like Me) which keeps the dÕnÕb feeling alive.

Following this is what I find to be my favorite track of the album. The grooves of Trial By Fire are infectious and the choruses bring back my fondest memories of newly arrived new-wave and synthpop from across the Atlantic when I could still count my age using my fingers and toes. Which is fitting, considering I canÕt keep my toes from not tapping along to this ditty. Now I could continue on, discussing the bittersweet tinklings of Song for the Dying, backing up to track twoÕs Cardinal Directions or bringing up the title track, but I wonÕt.

In short: Thou Shalt NotÕs latest, The White Beyond, is worldÕs beyond their previous, already beautiful, work. If you are even remotely interested in synthpop and trance style music, this is a must have for your collection. Featuring thought provoking and well written lyrics, darker stylings behind smooth, lighter melodies and mixing it up with very complicated, chaotic-yet-controlled rhythms and programming, The White Beyond is easily one of the top releases of 2003. So far, IÕve kept all Thou Shalt Not releases in my personal collection Ð and I will do the same with this one and with the amount of music I get crossing the Legends desk, thatÕs saying a whole hell of a lot. - Legends Magazine


""The Last Great Gothic Album""

Goth, as a genre, has been effectively dead in the water for years. On occasion a remarkable release like the Cranes' "Future Songs" or Ikon's "This Quiet Earth" will remind the world of the undead's insistence on, well, not being dead, but by and large, this is a style of music that has played itself out under the weight of its own 80's-indebted history.

Which brings me to ThouShaltNot's "The White Beyond," an album that both frames the darkwave, synthpop, and industrial satellites of gothicism in something of a retro homage, and also aggressively pushes the scene's stagnant sound palette to its limits and beyond, experimenting with a sound that is at once more grandiose and less pretentious than anything in the memory of our collective subculture. This record, tinged with industrial expirementalism and artschool flair, manages to convince the listener -- any listener, goth or not -- of its dire and epic subject matter in a mode almost entirely devoid of irony. Though the song "G.L.M." is a snarky and fleeting nod to electroclash, the 12 other songs use electronics to convey a heartfelt and approachable exegesis on life and death. That no one has really done this since Depeche Mode's "Songs of Faith and Devotion" infuses the entire experience with the feeling of newness.

The best songs on the album are "Inside of You, In Spite of You," "100 Generations," and "Song for the Dying," which find Alexx Reed, Aaron Fuleki, and Jeremy Long at their most vulnerable and least derivative. While other songs like "Glaciers" or even the swaggering mythic "Trial By Fire" could be mistaken for the work of another band (perhaps Beborn Beton or even Deadsy), they contribute to the totality of The White Beyond in a way that highlights the pristine, almost too flowing arrangement of the songs.

Reed's lyrics are at once skyward looking and introspective as he searches for the past ("Cardinal Directions"), love ("The Ocean Is Your Voice"), and God ("The White Beyond"), and it is in combining these perspectives with the subject matter they illuminate that ThouShaltNot's album positions itself as something of a culmination of a genre in its final recession. Perhaps this is overstating the CD's significance, but if not a culmination, then it is certainly a grand-scaled send-off for the scene. Though it bears flaws (namely, never quite rocking full-out in the way that it seems to crave), The White Beyond is the point at which the likelihood of a goth band making any kind of a new statement while so exquisitely tying up the loose ends of the genre's past approaches zero.

Buy this album, I insist. It may be the last gothic CD you'll ever need.
- Twisted


""Perfect""

This disk, packaging and all, is perfect. I am more than willing to give this band and its leading persona more than 15 minutes of fame, as long as they continue to make a product this good. - Starvox Magazine


""Exquisite""

ThouShaltNot,' the new self-titled release promises to be a hit with electronic music fans. ThouShaltNot, the brainchild of Alexx Reed, make their debut with a hard-hitting, synthpop mix of break beats and dark vocals. To classify this album would be as challenging as defining the range of emotions one has in a lifetime. Songs range from ambient techno to industrial dance, to synthpop.

The album begins with 'Relief,' a song filled with distorted vocals and a dark ambient aura. This sets the mood for the entire album, and gives the audience a taste of what's to come. The second track is a personal favorite, 'Something Dire.' As the song begins, the exquisite vocals of Reed are complemented by an array of layered synthesizers. I found myself comparing it to the work Depeche Mode did on 'Music for the Masses.' Another favorite was 'Falling Sky,' a track that seems to capture the essence of synthpop and again is layered with thick trance-like synth riffs.

The power of 'ThouShaltNot' is in the complexity of the music as well as the integration of vocals into the array of instruments used. 'Polarity,' which is indicative of this complexity, is probably one of the strangest and most intense pieces of electronic music I have heard. The song begins with a heavy pulsing beat, moving on to a more ambient feel, only to return to the industrial-like sound it begins with. Finally, the song resolves into a light beat with breathy female vocals, not before being interjected with a sampling from what seems to be a JFK speech.

'ThouShaltNot' must be heard to be believed. It shows a mastery of synthesizers rivaled only by such established artists as Nine Inch Nails, The Chemical Brothers and Underworld. The varied array of songs and the massive amount of instruments integrated, including piano, organ, violin, cello and choruses makes 'ThouShaltNot' a symphony in itself. The final song on the album, 'Crash,' is a fitting conclusion. Its simple composure is a refreshing break from the intensity of the tracks before it.

I highly recommend picking up 'ThouShaltNot.' It promises not to disappoint. The only regret I had listening to it was that it was not longer. Approximately 44 minutes of the darkest synthpop on the market today made me yearn for the teenage angst I never had. - The Wooster Voice


""Romantics""

He is just about always as misunderstood -- and as oft-maligned -- as his own pretensions might suppose, the goth. His is a sub-culture of music and fashion that frightens small children and makes the Oakland beermonsters chuckle and punch; a devotion second to none other, yet scoffed at by acquaintances as a passing phase even amongst its decades-long adherents.

Or at least thatÕs how things were, until just a year or two back, because while gothic and industrial musicÕs ÒsceneÓ may not be the dark flowering it once was, the musicÕs roots -- in dark, early-Õ80s electro and post-punk rock pioneers from Depeche Mode to Joy Division -- have gone on to dominate the musical tastes of critics and audiences across the country of late. So those kids you laughed at in the old army uniforms and black capes 16 months ago, like the Pittsburgh-based dark, complex electro composers in Thou Shalt Not, are uncharacteristically giggling -- at you.

ÒThe goth scene is not what it was in, say, 1987 -- or 1997,Ó says Jeremy Long, who constitutes one-half, along with Alexx Reed, of Thou Shalt NotÕs Pittsburgh contingent. (Percussionist Aaron Fuleki lives in Columbus, Ohio.) ÒBut on the other hand, a lot of people who were in circles that wouldnÕt have been listening to dark music 10 years ago are.Ó

Ò[The electro revival] has been a comfortable convenience of mass culture lately,Ó agrees Reed. ÒOne thing that the goth scene does well is pay homage to the Õ80s, and with the electro revival and a lot of post-punk indie rock, itÕs opening us up to a lot of audiences that may not have seen us three years ago.Ó

Thou Shalt Not began four years ago in the Cleveland area, before Reed -- and, therefore, the band -- moved to Pittsburgh to begin graduate work in music theory and composition at Pitt. (His masterÕs degree completed, heÕs now working on a Ph.D. -- you know, like all those goth songwriters.) Since then, the band has picked up Long, toured the country twice, and put out four records including 2003Õs Dancing Ferret Records domestic and European release of The White Beyond, the result of two years of composition and recording.

And while TWBÕs influences are worn on sheer-black sleeves -- Depeche ModeÕs Black Celebration and Music for the Masses, in particular, and like-minded artists such as New Order, Human League and Talk Talk -- Thou Shalt NotÕs end product is less scene-oriented dance-club fodder and more thinking-manÕs electro-pop. In other words, less the New York electroclash irony of WIT, more the best-laid-plans dance gloom of Adult. (Though perhaps more lyrically deep and dubious -- ÒWe fed a starving child with an appleÕs knowing taste / denying Õtil her death / the poison with which it had been laced,Ó Reed sings sincerely in Ò100 Generations.Ó) Which is just what they wanted.

ÒPardon the very modernist posturing on this,Ó warns the quick-talking Reed, Òbut I donÕt think Thou Shalt Not as a band is interested in making music thatÕs ephemeral -- we want to make music that people listen to 10, 20 years from now.Ó

ÒSituating yourself within a certain circle of hip cultural awareness really disables you from being relevant in 30 years,Ó says Long. ÒBecause no one will know what youÕre talking about.Ó

As foil to both the gut instinct of industrial musicÕs primitive pound, and to the ironic chic of electroÕs recent flourishing, Thou Shalt Not falls back on that least pop-oriented of pop vehicles: vast musical knowledge and training. All three members of the band are classically trained and play multiple instruments, though all three also have learned when to shed that training in favor of popÕs appeal; Reed thinks the bandÕs music has gotten progressively more complex and more accessible.

Thus, an experimental piano-and-computer-glitch jam such as ÒThe Insistence on Solid FloorsÓ can, on The White Beyond, move straight into club-and-radio hits such as ÒG.L.M.Ó and ÒTrial By FireÓ -- two songs that by all rights should be blaring from Parisian catwalks and suburban girlsÕ driving lessons. (In case youÕre worried that TSNÕs nerdiness extends only to composition, ÒTrial By FireÓ is the first song to successfully refer to ÒPygmalionÓ in its pop sing-along chorus.)

ItÕs this ability to be both catchy-pop cool kids and the inherently -- umm -- geeky composers of dramatic string arrangements that sets Thou Shalt Not apart on record, and as a live show: With Reed locked behind keyboards, live guitarist Long and percussionist Fuleki have to play the rock stars. ItÕs a role Fuleki can play because of his homemade electronic drum kit -- built into a marching-band harness, battery operated and wireless.

Mostly, however, Thou Shalt Not arenÕt popsters or geeks so much as romantics -- in the sense that, say, Mahler or Byron were romantics, and that Ian Curtis or Martin Gore were romantics. In other words, itÕs all to do with the emotions of the band members, and those of their audiences, and the way that music interacts with those emotions -- in some ways that other groups may never consider.

ÒWhen building a set list,Ó says Long, Òfor example, maybe weÕll want to do ÔThe White BeyondÕ after ÔWithout Faith,Õ but we always do ÔThe White BeyondÕ in C-minor, and ÔWithout FaithÕ ends in F-sharp minor ÉÓ

ÒThere are certain indescribable -- and [some] describable -- elements that can come across from well-planned geekery,Ó says Reed. ÒThe audience might say, ÔWow, that sounded really good going into that next song.Õ They canÕt say it was because it was a dominant modulation or whatever, but it is something that people feel even if they canÕt articulate it. And to us, itÕs all a question of finding a way to navigate those feelings.Ó - Pittsburgh City Paper


Discography

Full lengths:

The White Beyond (2003, Dancing Ferret Discs)
The Holiness of Now (2001, ADSR Musicwerks, reissued 2003 by Dancing Ferret Discs)
ThouShaltNot (2000, ADSR Musicwerks)

EP:
You'll Wake Up Yesterday (2002 ADSR Musicwerks)

Single:
Cardinal Directions (released as a split single, "Vier Factor", 2003 Dancing Ferret Discs)

Multiple compilation appearances and noteworthy goth club/radio success with "Without Faith", "Last Comfort", "If I Only Were A Goth", "Cardinal Directions", "Inside of You, In Spite of You", and "Trial By Fire".

MTV used "Inside of You, In Spite of You" extensively in episode 406 of "Made".

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

ThouShaltNot combines classical orchestral flair with the raw edges of modern gothic and electroclash music. They were voted Best New Gothic Artist by Im Rhythmus Bleiben magazine and called "Perfect" by Starvox.

On album and in concert alike, ThouShaltNot is explosive, yet refined. Their anthem-like songs are infectious and will have you dancing, whether your scene is goth, industrial, or just rock. Based formerly in Cleveland and now in Pittsburgh, ThouShaltNot have built strong fanbases and toured nationally and worked with acts such as VNV Nation, Haujobb, David J., Assemblage 23, The Cruxshadows, Trance to the Sun, and Bella Morte. This level of achievement is the result of an intense dedication to their craft; Alexx is a Ph.D. student in music theory at the University of Pittsburgh, Jeremy is classically trained on three instruments, and Aaron builds his own electronic drums.

After several successful releases (from which were spawned the club hits "Without Faith" and "Last Comfort," which were played in nearly every goth club in America), ThouShaltNot, now signed to Dancing Ferret Discs (with Cruxshadows, Neuroticfish, and Nosferatu), released their third studio full length album, The White Beyond, in late 2003.

The White Beyond brings to the genre a raw emotional core filtered through refined classicism, intelligent songwriting, and epic production. This 13-song album is at once the advancement, culmination, and redirection of the band's sound.

Employing a confluence of many styles and a battery of excellent musicianship, The White Beyond is, throughout its heavy subject matter, at once accessibly hook-laden and deeply complex in its emotional and intellectual architecture.