I've not been what you would call a fan of this act; over the years they've sort of been one of those bands I'd hear in clubs or via friends who were fans. This has changed, however, with the release of Stromkern's new album "Light It up".

J. Ned Kirby's staccato-styled vocals may not be for everyone, but as a fan of hip hop music, I have found his approach a welcome change from the snarling, bear-like growls that typify electronic music these days. The rich textured musical compositions are exquisitely constructed - I really like "Reminders". Earmark this one for the next single, it will kill. Other songs such as "Forgiven" pulsate with intensity, never erring from pulling the listener in without bludgeoning them. "Sentinel" makes an appearance on "Light It up" which makes me wonder what the point of buying compilations from Dependent is when most of the tracks wind up on album. And, of course, we can't forget "Hindsight" which features the rather formulaic vocal stylings of Victoria Lloyd (Clair Voyant, HMB).

Stromkern have spent several years creating this one, and it definitely shows. It also gives me a chance to once more expound on how US-based electronic acts have dropped off over the years, with this band being one of the few survivors of numerous label collapses, tour rip-offs and general malaise. There was a time when acts like Index (Eric Chamberlin, where are you?), Mentallo & the Fixer, Pulse Legion and THD also offered up their own distinctive style of electro. Sadly, these days, American acts appear to have decided to merely follow in the path of the European scene.

Stromkern refuse to do so. In fact, they have made a bold statement, especially given the political climate here in the US where religious zealots masquerade as impartial "democratically elected" leaders and TV evangelists call for not only a stacked Supreme Court but also for the assassination of foreign leaders they do not like. "Light It up" offers hope, it offers those who listen a chance to feel as though there may just be a chance for the world.

A statement on the times we are living in, this album is highly recommended.