Exactly 1 year ago, Monstercat caught fans everywhere off guard with their most surprising release to date, Karma Fields‘ “Build the Cities,” which had been premiered through a Twitch “hack” on the 47th edition of the Monstercat Podcast only a few days before. Since then, Karma Fields has been – by far – the most polarizing figure on the label, especially with his (or their, we’re still not sure) more recent singles, such as “Stickup,” which is the most disliked track (by ratio) on Monstercat’s YouTube channel (after Aero Chord’s “Saiko”). Whether you like Karma Fields or not, you can’t deny that the project’s presence has been no less than powerful throughout the last year.
When Karma Fields’ debut album New Age | Dark Age was announced, I nearly jumped out of my chair in excitement. “Skyline” was and is one of my all-time favorite Monstercat single releases, so an accompanying album sounded like perfection to me. New Age | Dark Age is Monstercat’s 8th LP release, and although – in my opinion – it’s not their best album to date, it comes pretty damn close.
In all aspects, the album is exactly what it claims to be: dark, new-age electronic music. This is especially evident on “Stickup” and “Scandal,” two of the edgiest tracks from the project. The latter of the two even goes as far as to cut up C. C. Sheffield‘s vocals into moderately sexual moans that somehow work perfectly with the track’s infectious beat. “Stickup,” which features Juliette Lewis, is arguably one of the album’s best, showcasing Lewis’ punk side, with the vocals thoughtfully layered over a distorted electro instrumental, courtesy of MORTEN.
Fans of the project seem to be primarily taking note of tracks like “For Me,” “Fixed_” and “Edge of the World,” the album’s big electro stabs. Fans of artists like Justice and AgNO3 will heavily reminisce in these, while tracks like “Skyline” will probably cater better to listeners of deadmau5 and Eric Prydz. Two of my personal favorites from the cut are “Skewed” and the rap-heavy “Greatness.” The cuts and loops in “Skewed” are nostalgically similar to Discovery-era Daft Punk and the drop isn’t overwhelming heavy, making it one of the definite standouts. “Greatness” owes its greatness, in large part, to the legendary Talib Kweli, who features on the track. Being the only hip-hop attempt on the album, it is a clear-cut standout track.
Overall, the release of this album is bittersweet. No, it’s not perfect, but it’s a very well thought-out album; by far Monstercat’s most extensive and thematic project to date, clocking in at a 1-year running time today. If Karma Fields really is a single-album project, fans worldwide are definitely going to miss the mysterious messages and videos he (THEY??) would provide in anticipation for all of the upcoming singles. Let’s hope that this train doesn’t have to come to a screeching halt, at least not right now.
Listen to New Age | Dark Age, buy the album and rate it yourself below: