Perplex Cities

Serjical Strike
rating icon 7 / 10

Track listing:

01. Pop Imperialism
02. The Race
03. I Spoke Up
04. Rumi Loves His Cars
05. Forgive Me Father

SERJ TANKIAN will be forever best known as the charming, quirky, circus ringmaster of SYSTEM OF A DOWN, but his creative output reaches well beyond. Whether his expression manifests itself through film score composition, poetry, multimedia art or a vast array of musical collaborations, Tankian is always active, never mind his well-documented involvement with political activism. As a solo musical artist, Tankian now presents "Perplex Cities", his second EP in the last 18 months, following up 2021's "Elasticity". The five-song EP showcases the eclectic artist's exploration of music that's less metallic and more electronic-based.

To intimately connect people to his music, each song was rolled out ahead of release via a free downloadable app visually depicting Tankian within the same visual space viewable by one's smart-phone camera presenting the music as they'd listen along. This offered an immersive experience where he would extend explanations of the music. Any way you cut it, it's clever and creative marketing, proving that the ever-ambitious Tankian is not content to rest on his laurels.

His recent ventures into the world of film score composition likely guided the soft, swelling synth buildup at the opening song's onset. The track boasts his signature, rapid vibrato during its more impassioned sections, flip-flopping with a spoken word and rap vocal delivery that rests upon gentle, soothing electronic keys.

"Perplex Cities" is anything but a heavy release, at least in terms of the sonic weight of heavy metal music. But the EP is powerfully heavy on an emotional level. The passion with which he croons on "The Race" is simply undeniable. Elsewhere, intricate Middle Eastern guitar melodies and soothing chants define "I Spoke Up", and catchy piano and pop-laden hooks lead the way on THE BEATLES-tinged track "Rumi Loves His Cars".

One shouldn't always expect a "Chop Suey" or "Sugar" from Tankian's solo releases. (Granted, there is an overtly energetic and rocking element at the latter half of "Forgive Me Father".) By design "Perplex Cities" explores sounds that are distant from the singer's metal and punk roots. There are many interesting facets, twists and turns within an EP that doesn't have any meek moments or songs, but there isn't anything notably exceptional about it. Compared to the releases most commonly tied to Tankian's name, this isn't likely to find extensive replay amongst most listeners. In any event, "Perplex Cities" is an interesting journey into new territory for the eccentric artist.

Author: Jay H. Gorania
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