Hailing from Ohio, Hexadiode return to Ibex, their debut album released in August 2016, with an instrumental version (c) released on April 2, 2021. This new release is available in digital format. The original album is available in digital, vinyl and CD formats.
As the name suggests, the new Ibex offers the listener a purely instrumental version of its 2016 original tracks. The instrumental radically transfigures the essence of these songs even if the industrial, dark and electro aesthetic remains unchanged. As the human voice is the only organic element of the original album, the removal of it makes the musical universe of Hexadiode colder, in shades of grey, black and metal where the human has no place anymore. To sum up, the album consists in eleven tracks with elaborate instrumentation, drenched in a delicate dystopian science-fiction perfume.
Offering an instrumental version to the public 5 years after the release of the original album is an excellent move that offers the possibility to (re) discover the universe of Hexadiode and to listen to Ibex in a different way. Despite the merits of this initiative, it seems, after a comparative listening of the two albums, that the 2021 version does not contain as much novelty as one would expect in a second album edition.
Even an instrumental version of a musical work, regardless of its genre or instrumentation, should be an opportunity to rethink the original work in depth in order to give it a new identity through new arrangements that would compensate for the absence of vocals. An opportunity that does not seem to have been seized by Hexadiode. Indeed, the vocal parts of the original album have simply been removed without rethinking the framework of the tracks and their orchestration. If this can have a certain interest as in “Inversion”, a slower composition where the absence of vocals reveals all the contemplative potential of the title, it can also generate the opposite effect, a feeling of hollow, of lack as in a dish without salt. The feeling is obvious when listening to the two versions of “Subatonic”. And it is unfortunately felt in the majority of the tracks.
Which version to listen to? The instrumental, the original or both? A question to which everyone will have a different answer. Therefore, it is obvious that my comments on the latest Hexadiode album were undoubtedly influenced by my comparative listening to the two versions. Perhaps they would have been different if I had done it differently. However, whether it is a rehash or a gift to impatient fans, Ibex instrumental does not alter the excellence of the original album. It allows us to fully appreciate the instrumentation and to measure the great talent of the artists.