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Favorite ThisConspirator: Unlocked (Live From The Georgia Theatre Review)

Published: April 30, 2012
By: Kerry McNeil

After a lengthy U.S. tour in 2011, Aron Magner and Marc Brownstein (keyboardist and bassist of The Disco Biscuits) have  demonstrated that what was once considered a side project of the Philadelphia trance fusion act has thoroughly shaken loose the stigma and come into its own. Accompanied by guitarist Chris Michetti and a rotating lineup of seasoned drummers including Darren Shearer (The New Deal), Mike Greenfield (Lotus), KJ Sawka (Pendulum), and Adam Deitch (Break Science), Conspirator has now unveiled a live album from its October 6th show at the Georgia Theatre with Ghostland Observatory. Unlocked – Live From The Georgia Theatre is now available from SCI Fidelity Records, making the firmest statement yet that Conspirator is its own individual entity. With a set list that flows seamlessly from livetronica to drum and bass, exploring electro, house, rock and back again without losing any cohesion, Conspirator unleashed its amped up genre fusion on the Athens audience.

“Park Ave” starts with whistles and cheers from an enthusiastic audience and as bluesy guitar from Michetti is slowly integrated, a smattering of cymbals and bubbling synths are introduced. Embellished with reverberating guitar melodies from Michetti and more fizzy synths, the track builds up to a crescendo of screaming guitars, crashing drums, and soaring synths. Moving swiftly into “So Much More,” Conspirator changes it up from traditional Disco Biscuits-esque jamming to much heavier, explosive guitar riffs, harsh bass lines from Brownstein, pounding drums, and constant keys as Magner and Michetti jump from towering crescendo to crescendo.

The Unlocked set list swiftly changes up the sound again with a sequence of “Velvet Red,” “Feed The Wolf,” and then “Velvet Red” again. Smoothly transitioning from a circular, spacey synth melody and groovy guitar to an erratic, laser synth electro sound, Conspirator amps up the house vibe with a grinding synth beat and more frenzied guitar work from Michetti—all while maintaining pulsating instrumental chorus lines.

Featuring the interspersed echoing vocal samples of Rihanna, “S & M” showcases Michetti’s exceptional guitar chops with more heavy riffs like on “So Much More,” as well as shrieking solos that soar above all else. Buzzing synths, loftily plucked strings, and a hand-clap rhythm all slowly become more intense, lending to the dance club atmosphere of “Countach.” Continuing with the heavy dance rhythm on “Proper Education,” Conspirator introduces a sample from Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In The Wall,” amidst banging cymbals, beeping synths from Magner, and Michetti’s tirelessly effervescent melodies. The dance vibe keeps going as the band flows into “Gypsy Lane” and “Retrograde” with each instrument sounding even louder as Conspirator ends the set with high energy.

Unlocked not only demonstrates Conspirator’s live performance forte, but also the band’s diversity of sound as each track stylistically hops back and forth without ever losing the set’s inherent flow. Though the band may have started as a Disco Biscuits side project, Unlocked is proof of the group’s transformation into something much more than that, giving listeners a glimpse of the masterful live performances Conspirator has been delivering across the country.

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Tags: DowntempoDrum and BassDubstepElectroHouseLivetronicaTrance