Winnipeg Free Press
Five years after the electronic producer's debut, Interplanetary Ridicule, ex-Winnipegger Mark Wiebe avoids the dreaded sophmore jinx. Lying somewhere between RJD2's Since We Last Spoke and Fragile State's Voices From the Dust Bowl, Unity Gain's trippy undercurrents and spaced-out soundscapes sound like they are beamed in from another planet.
Tracks like A Ton of Automatons, Peace by Peace, and Love it Up's processed vocals work well against the cosmic backdrop of analogue synths, synthetic strings, stream-lined guitars, and precise percussion. Shape Shifting Space Lizards cranks up distortion and delay while Smarm School is a Nintendo-era synth work out. In a genre crowded with clones, Sinewave has managed to creat a unique album.
- 4 Stars, Anthony Augustine
All good things come to those who wait, or so the saying goes. Mark Wiebe, a.k.a. Sinewave, has returned with an album that one can only describe as pure beauty. A hypnotic, mesmerizing, cinematic journey, through the chilled abyss of progressive electronic psychedelia overtones, sophisticated in structure yet so very calmly executed, Unity Gain sees a very reserved approach to the construction and style of material from previous endeavours of dub lounge and drum and bass-like fusion. Exquisite instrumentation with just the right amount of perfectly executed sounds and lush transitions create something that demands your attention. Some recordings take time, attention to detail and multiple listens to fully understand the message, if any, that is waiting to be discovered. Not this one. The 13 tracks have come a long way across the prairie sky to new creative spaces, all sharing one thing in common: the reaffirmation that there is still hope for beautiful music to be created. Fans of 2001's Interplanetary Ridicule be prepared for a serious 180 from one extreme to the next, but one well worth the new experience.
- Sebastian Posiadlo
For young elitist robots!
Great for humans too
Unity Gain is the kind of music robots groove to. It’s easy to imagine yourself chilling with these robots in whatever the electronic equivalent to a lounge is and being faced by one of them as the music is cued up to provide a nice background to begin the odd conversation.
“It’s not just that Sinewave are good,” your robot companion says to you, both of you swinging your heads slowly to the rich downtempo electronica. “They have found a nearly perfect blend of lounge, funk, cerebral rock and electronica.”
You both pause to take a sip of your drinks, your’s some kind of martini, the robot’s some absurdist mixture of oil and coolant, as though this were a 1950s science fiction B movie.
“I mean it’s not like nobody saw this coming,” he continues. “Sinewave’s 2001 freshman effort Interplanetary Ridicule was good. Still, the first thing I noticed when I got this album is it never sacrifices beat or melody in search for progressive sound.”
You nod in agreement and look over the lounge at all the other robots swaying. Two metallic patrons paw at each other before finishing their drinks and heading for the door.
“That’s really all you can ask for, isn’t it?” the robot concludes, as your robot waitress wheels up to refill his beverage. “011001110111001001101111011011110111011
00111100100100001,” she says, which is—of course—binary for “groovy!”
- Ben Hoffman
Recently headlining at the Vinyl Republik showcase at the Canadian Music Week in Toronto, Sinewave can provide so many dimensions with minimal instrumentation. Mark Wiebe (also known as Sinewave) has cultivated his enigmatic sound from the various depths of his life and experiences. This Vancouver native has garnered a following for his cinematic chilled beats. Served lightly with a martini or just relaxing is where this album is best suited. This is Wiebe’s first release on Winnipeg label Vinyl Republik, and some may be familiar with Mark’s other alter-ego, Guitaro, seeing as it has a quirky indie feel to it, much like all of his creative outlets.
Throughout Unity Gain you’ll be introduced to beats that are usually below sea level, so grab your scuba gear and prepare to dive in deep. These shallow grooves may reflect his passion for sci-fi and spy films, as there seem to be themes that pick up and slow down where excitement is permitted. Among all this innovation there are also eerie vocals provided by Mr. Todd Whiskers. Low end samples of jazz and odd grooves that play off of each other form a structured sound. Unity Gain is one CD that will last in your collection and further your quest for more special sounds like these.
- 4 out of 5, Marc LaCasse
Electronica takes on a whole new direction.
The Greeks believed that celestial bodies created ‘music of the spheres’ when they moved in space. If such music does exist, then it would sound like Vancouver’s Mark Wiebe (aka Sinewave). Electronica is brought to new heights in Sinewave’s unique mix of new age tones, human speech, and light techno. The music weaves a fabric in the listener’s mind. Colourful, sparkly melodic lines are suspended over a rush of synth sounds, offset by occasional dissonance, and tied all together by an undulating bass. Fanciful titles like “Shapeshifting Space Lizards” and “Gravity-Vortex Vertigo” help set the CD’s tone as an intellectual dream into the far reaches of space. Unity Gain is the new essential must-have for any electronica fan.
- 4 stars, Clara Tsui
You've got to hand it to Mark Wiebe (aka Sinewave): he proves more than capable of using a vocoder without embarrassing himself and everyone else around within earshot. Take note, Trevor Horn. Well known for his work with Vancouver's Guitaro and binary beat duo Helpcomputer, the crafty handed west coast musician brings his otherworldy tangerine dreams into full focus with 'Unity Gain": a sonic space oddity of celestial musical morphine for starstruck shoegazers. Opening with the sprawling, cosmic strains of "A Ton Of Automotons", Wiebe, who weaves a numbing spell with simple acoustic flourishes alongside grandiose synthesized waves of sound, rarely throws a jarring changeup thereafter; instead he ever so subtly varies the rhythmic roots throughout the set, without sacrificing the overall mood- namely, an ever present sense of impending dread lurking furtively just below the surface. At times, one aches for more than just a hint of teeth bearing grit amongst the oft-billowy high brow wizardry. Still, it's hard to knock a record that comes across like a groove infused modern take on "In The Court Of The Crimson King" - sans Pete Sinfield's flowery touch.
- Steve Baylin
I've been listening to Air since a friend introduced me to them in high school, and while I've always liked them, I immediately found the "cheese factor" of their output at that time to be a bit off-putting. Since then, I've grown to embrace it and consider them one of my longest running favorites amongst electronic music, but I've always wanted to hear something similar with less cheese going on. Sinewave (Mark Wiebe) is unabashedly influenced by Air on Unity Gain, mentioning them in the press release and listing them first on his Myspace list of influences and similar artists (though the lists are identical). Subsequently, Air is the most obvious point of reference in describing Sinewave, but what really makes Sinewave enjoyable beyond simply being a similar artist to Air is the marked lack of cheesiness along with numerous other subtle and interesting differences that become apparent on repeat listens.
This Air influence, however, is a departure from the previous Sinewave album, Interplanetary Ridicule, which was occasionally spaced-out, but relatively unimpressive lo-fi electronica. Wiebe has come a long way in the nearly five years between the albums, and the change in direction is a welcome one. The most dramatic difference in Unity Gain is that the melodies are far more enjoyable and impressive. Even the songs that are stylistically similar to those on the last record are significantly better because of their greater depth of songwriting. For the most part, though, the songs take on a much more accessible "pop" type structure, and that topped with rather frequent vocoder vocals is highly reminiscent of Air's approach to electronic music. Fortunately, though, it's definitely not purely derivative. There are elements of IDM, and other more obtuse genres of electronic music sprinkled throughout, and even some gentle hints of World-type beats once or twice.
The album's opener, "A Ton of Automatons" (he's apparently keen on "cute" song titles, and most of the time they're actually quite charming) is likely the strongest song, not unlike a darker and more dreamy version of something Air might play. Barring one more song (which is also quite good), none of the rest of the album is as overtly influenced, fortunately. "Wizard of Ahhhs," another stand-out, rather reminds me of Gabor Csupo's quirky and gentle electronic music (yes, the same Gabor Csupo who did all those awesome animated shows on Nickelodeon). "Gravity Vortex Vertigo" is closest to some of Royksopp's semi-epic instrumental songs.
Come to think of it, the real common theme throughout Unity Gain is simply a love for many of the various types of accessible electronic music. That goes beyond any single influence, and it's why despite some of the influences being quite overt, it's still a rather refreshing album. It seems that Sinewave only currently has notoriety in Canada, and that's a shame. When a self-made artist is this good, he definitely deserves wider recognition. And really, fans of this type of music owe it to themselves to give Sinewave a chance.
- Ian Dreilinger
Ce sont les nouvelles ondes liquides et spatiales du producteur vancouvérois Mark Wiebe, qui signe ici son second opus du projet Sinewave. Unity Gain est l'étape finale d'un work in progress dont la composition s'est échelonnée sur trois ans, après le succès d'estime sur les ondes des radios universitaires de Interplanetary Ridicule, le premier album paru en 2001.
Est-ce du cinéma tout ça?
Un peu. Mark Wiebe est un compositeur familier avec les trames sonores de films, et ça paraît. Unity Gain est pétri d'atmosphères cinématographiques, aériennes et spatiales, qui nous transportent dans des lieux imaginaires où l'on ne pensait jamais se rendre, pour mieux trébucher sur des étoiles (la pièce Star Tripping). La facture est quelque peu timide, on sent terriblement le grand gars gêné derrière ces musiques, mais les mélodies sont extrêmement efficaces, les arrangements impeccables, ces musiques s'insinuent en nous subrepticement, après quelques écoutes. On voit presque cette tonne d'automates (A Ton Of Automatons), ces lézards de l'espace aux formes changeantes (Shapeshifting Space Lizards), qu'on rencontre avec un vertige de vortex gravitationnel (Gravity-Vortex vertigo). Et on aime ça!
Pas encore du Vocoder?
Eh oui (soupir...). Je donne un très gros point négatif pour l'utilisation du Vocoder sur Unity Gain : on en a vraiment marre d'entendre cette voix de robot de pacotille utilisée à toutes les sauces aussitôt qu'il y a thématique «spatiale». Pourquoi utiliser cette machine, je vous le demande? C'est cliché, éculé, fini. On n'en veut plus, nada, niet. Mais, point positif : Mark Wiebe en fait une utilisation sobre, juste, avec des voix féminines magnifiques qui ajoutent aux riches textures interplanétaires de ses musiques.
Voilà un compositeur qui manque un peu d'originalité (Sinewave doit beaucoup à My Bloody Valentine), mais qui a au moins du talent, du goût et quelque chose à dire, ce qui est déjà pas mal.
Sinewave gagne-t-il vraiment en unité?
Néanmoins, et en dépit de l'utilisation du Vocoder (bon bon, j'en reviens, là...), je dirais que oui. Mark Wiebe signe ici un disque d'une très grande maturité créatrice, aux arrangements impeccables, et aux mélodies juste assez lyriques pour nous emporter là où il faut aller : aux confins de l'espace intersidéral à la rencontre de tous les possibles. On plane, mais on peut surtout tout aussi bien utiliser Unity Gain comme trame sonore du cinéma de notre vie : c'est dans ces conditions que ce disque trouvera son importance dans votre discothèque.
Qu'on ne s'y trompe pas, Unity Gain de Sinewave n'est pas un grand disque, ni un chef d'oeuvre, mais c'est une oeuvre sans faiblesse, parfaite dans sa forme. Sur Unity Gain, tout se tient, et Mark Wiebe réussit à nous livrer un univers extrêmement cohérent, en nous racontant une belle histoire. Dans le fond, c'est tout ce qu'on demande.
- 5/7, Une écoute sinusoïdale de Tony Tremblay