Once Upon A Time in Cyberworld, Black Tiger Sex Machine’s (BTSM) latest and hotly awaited album comes over an impressive year for the Montreal trio, and continues the stories of their legendary, dystopian Cyberpunk universe. This ever-expanding mythical world of their creation is where they have derived not only the inspiration for their largest musical project thus far, but their theatrically stunning live experience.
“Our post-apocalyptic universe is a bleak place where the world is crumbling. In some ways the hardships mirror what we’ve all gone through in the past couple years in real life. With this album we wanted to write from that perspective of coming in and out of hard times while still having some fight and hope left in us.”
In 2021 BTSM headlined a sold out show at Red Rocks, had magical sets at Lost Lands, Bass Canyon, and more. Now they are releasing Once Upon A Time in Cyberworld into our reality, and continuing their mission to push boundaries, collaborate with incredibly talented producers and vocalists, and create music that not only crosses but skips and leaps through genres.
BTSM released quite a few singles from this LP, which fans were happy to see and hear not only at their live sets but online. As a fan myself, going to about a dozen of their shows over the last six years, I can honestly say that going to a BTSM is the way to experience their music since their craft is focused on not just producing sounds, but submerging you into a new world of their creation. This has been part of their artist journey from their early days and has continued to inspire and thrust their career in electronic music forward much to their fans’ delight.
“We really wanted to push everything forward with the LP and tie it together between the next chapter of the Movie Experience, the tour and all of the visual content from artworks, posters and beyond.”
The opener to this album, ‘Trailblazer’ ft. Macntaj, is a definite stunner. Beginning with an aggressive, staccato rap verse, and then melting into a crooning Macntaj, the lyrics emphasize standing strong against adversaries and phonies; it quickly descends into a ferocious flurry of slicing dubstep synths that would make any headbanger break their neck to. Staying close to their theatrical style, BTSM peppers symphony samples over big bass sounds, and pushes the thrills with swelling, brassy horns. It’s a perfect palette cleanser and stages the high energy stage for what is to come within this universe of BTSM.
BTSM’s collaboration with famed duo ATLiens is another stand-out track, and single release, from Once Upon a Time in Cyberworld that will immediately hook into you. With extra crunchy effects, aggressive basslines, and layers of futuristic digital chirps and vocal samples. The melody saunters like a robotic beast and the synths tickle at your already chilled skin- it’s like a horror rollercoaster ride at a future cyberworld carnival. Each verse has its own definitive boundaries but the transitions are so silky that they fit together like a blackjack dealer’s shuffle. One break bleeds into another high-energy rendering, and there are a few morsels that show off ATLiens and BTSM’s shared skill and interest in pushing the boundaries of dark electro. Especially when they pump up the rhythm or deconstruct the disk into its raw components. ‘Front Man’ is a multifaceted track that is sure to hold your attention from beginning to end.
Teaming up with Hairitage and featuring Hyro The Hero, ‘Cheatcode’ brings about some classic BTSM sound. Commencing with quick and plucky synths that set an eerie stage, Hyro’s vocal performance unfurls high energy with lyrics like “I will never fold or crumble/ Six feet deep they want me under/… Imma have to show my muscle”– then there is a fanfare of operatic synths, reaching a higher level of vibrating energy before he continues to spit “I’m in attack mode/I’m in beast mode/I’m in attack mode/ I’m in beast mode/I’m in attack mode/ I’m in beast mode/ Bitch I got the cheatcode,” before everything implodes and the chaotic crescendo crumples onto itself and churns into a wicked head-banger riff. This fury is combined with soft flashes of violin-like backgrounds, creepy, Halloween-esque synths, and emotional trills of classic wind instruments. This is the sound that drew in lots of BTSM fans from their inception.
Partnering up with YOOKiE, BTSM brings back diehard fans to their Church days, sampling choir vocals and stitching them together with YOOKiE’s experimental style of production in ‘Deathstalker.’ This track is like a fever dream, starting out with the clear choir vocals and quickly whipping up into YOOKiE’s foamy, rapid-fire effects that are stripped back, bearing only teeth and attitude. Just as quickly, we are back to the steady beat, the pace of a priest coming down the center aisle, just before another lead-up and drop into the meat of ‘Deathstalker’. Here we have crispy waves of digital sound and the whirr of mechanical synths, chopped up finely into the swell of background choral effects, and a menacing rhythm that spurns you on until the very end of this high octane track.
Other tracks on this album that were especially dank were ‘Leaders’ ft. Alborosie, ‘Karma’ ft Dread MC, and Kai Wachi’s collab ‘Prayers’ ft. Wasiu. Check these and all the other gems they have collected on Once Upon a Time in Cyberworld below.