“I am obsessed with the concept of a scientific theory of an underlying base level of consciousness,” explains Chris Corner of internationally-renowned band IAMX, words that you’d probably never thought would be uttered by a musician. Oddly, however, these words feel comfortably appropriate for one of the deepest, most philosophic and intelligent artists in the current music world. The statement describes IAMX’s new album, The Unified Field (61seconds; international release date: March 22, 2013) almost impeccably. “A ‘unified field’ out of which all things are created. From super strings to quarks to atoms to humans to galaxies… a conceptual place where we are all connected.”
Written and recorded on multiple continents, The Unified Field may be heady and smart, but it doesn’t ignore the most central part of it all – the music. “I fight with science and spirituality constantly,” he continues, “and as an intelligent being I yearn to explain emotion and art. But they are beyond this. This album is my attempt to accept this… to accept human nature for what it is and to learn to love it and revel in the eternal frustrations and contradictions it brings. There is a huge struggle in my records.”
Musically, The Unified Field traipses across IAMX’s trademark dark midnight landscapes and populates them with ground-breaking rhythms, dancefloor beats, and Chris Corner’s highly distinctive, emotion-heavy vocals. From the opening salvo “I Come With Knives,” it’s apparent that The Unified Field has a different feel and focus, with its “calm whispery female chanting to dirty annoying screaming. It introduces the album well,” he explains. “It has the light and the dark. Plus it has German lyrics that start the track, so it’s nice to use some of my second language.”
The Unified Field’s shift wasn’t just aural though – it was structural as well. “I forced myself to work with others. That’s the major difference,” Chris explains. “Aside from the pleasure of sharing the burden of ideas I must say it was traumatic to hand over control. But I swore to myself I won’t make an album alone again. It smashes me to pieces emotionally and has just become more and more trouble than fun.” Among the new faces within the IAMX camp was producer Jim Abbiss (Adele, Arctic Monkeys, Temper Trap, Sneaker Pimps). “I begged an old friend and collaborator producer Jim Abbiss to come on board from the beginning,” Chris explains. “What made this special and unique among IAMX records was a huge focus on performance and expanding the more organic side of my music. Jim is amazing at bringing out the best of performers and he pushed me into playing instruments I have never touched before. Vibraphone, glockenspiel, celesta, harpsichord. That was refreshing. I remembered why I love to play so much. This added a complexity to the sound of the record I couldn’t have achieved alone.”
With a whole new outlook and recording process, it has given IAMX space to explore, as evidenced from the first single released, the title track. Spacious and expansive, it allows Chris to dive deeper into emotion and introspection (“Just because I don’t care doesn’t mean I don’t feel /Just because I don’t believe doesn’t mean I don’t understand”). The swirl of “Animal Impulses” envelops the listener like an aural twister, while the Middle Eastern flavour of “Land of Broken Promises” sees IAMX exploring new and very different song structures and making it their own. “It was essential for me to be quite diverse with this record. I have so many loves and desires that never make it on to my records,” he says.
Also adding a different stamp on the record is the reunion of Chris with Liam Howe who together once formed the internationally-celebrated triphop band Sneaker Pimps which penned such huge international smashes as “6 Underground”, “Spin Spin Sugar” and “Sick”. “Liam came to Berlin and made a cameo appearance on the record with additional synth programming on some of the songs,” he recalls fondly. “He was really animated about the new material and wanted to offer his input. It was very generous and it turned out beautifully.”
Founded in 2004, IAMX has released four albums that cross genres from electro to dance to experimental burlesque to stripped-down pulsating ballads without losing its very-human soul. The media has taken notice, calling IAMX’s music “gorgeous… deliriously gloomy… and endearingly vulnerable” (Alternative Press), “hidden treasures for the ear that are so pristine, so lush and so near-perfect, that you want to share it with the world (9 out of 10)” (Blurt! Magazine), and “enthralling, highly theatrical mix of biting Brit Pop and electronica” (NYLON).
The beauty of IAMX is that it constantly evolves, adding credence to the original enigma that is its moniker, “I Am X”. Shifting and morphing, Chris is no closer to who “X” truly is. “I get glimpses,” he explains about its identity and true nature. “The brave confident noisy leader, the fragile sensitive recluse. But honestly, I just don’t want to understand. The day I find out is the day the fire stops burning and the day I stop making music.”
IAMX’s fifth album The Unified Field will be released worldwide on March 22, 2013 via 61secords Records.
Apr 26 Irving Plaza New York, NY
Apr 27 Brighton Music Hall Boston, MA
Apr 29 Cabaret du Mile Montreal, QC
May 02 Lincoln Hall Chicago, IL
May 04 The Loft Atlanta, GA
May 06 The Parish Austin, TX
May 07 Trees Dallas, TX
May 09 Bluebird Theatre Denver, CO
May 11 Neumo’s Seattle, WA
May 12 Doug Fir Lounge Portland, OR
May 14 Slim’s San Francisco, CA
May 15 Fonda Theatre Los Angeles, CA