“Give a man a mask and he will tell you the truth,” said legendary wit Oscar Wilde, and electro-rock unit Cyberpunkers have adopted that quote as their own unofficial motto. Formed in 2006 by a pair of Italian DJs whose identities remain concealed, Cyberpunkers draw heavily from sci-fi/horror themes and imagery, and have staged epic performances at some of Europe's biggest electronic music festivals. They've distinguished themselves worldwide through a series of high-profile remixes, including a cover of Bauhaus's “Bela Lugosi's Dead” by Alex D'elia & The Deafness, and the 2009 single “Change” by Coolio, featuring iconic composer Ennio Morricone (The Thing), but they've also turned out a fair amount of original material, including the horror-themed EP Old Skulls.
While the band is touting their new EP Whatta Mask as the birth of a new image, accompanied by more sinister masks, the duo never really opted for a shock-rock approach; instead, their robotic anonymity plays more into their admitted obsession with cyberpunk culture, symbolizing their oneness with the unpredictable musical machines they harness onstage – which range from dueling DJ consoles to assorted synths and guitars. All of those facets come into play on this EP, with the band calling on the combined forces of electro-house, heavy bass, glitch, electro-industrial and cyber-metal to summon an enraged dance-floor demon.
The title track is definitely the standout cut, with the grittiest and most aggressive synth pattern, punchiest rhythms; the violent electro-snare shots will stab your ears, and the bass is chunky as hell. The rest of the EP is on the lighter side – a lilting Daft Punk-style synth sequence with some smooth, soaring chord progressions slinks through “Mad Armada,” before breaking into a fairly easygoing dub section with an intergalactic vibe; while it sticks to a similar pattern, there's a bit more mischief to “Ogre's Ballad,” which opens in a spooky mood with minimalist organ stabs and ominous choral samples, but breaks at the midpoint into massive, rubbery bass drops. It's not quite as heavy as I expected, given the scary presentation, but there's enough urgency and morphing song dynamics to keep the dance drama high.
Want to find out for yourself? You can preview all three tracks right here:
If you dig what you just heard, pick up Whatta Mask from iTunes (Germany) or Beatport. But we're not done yet... the band just launched a video for the title track today. Watch it below!