I’m revisiting the mind.in.a.box catalog prior to the release of their eighth studio album, Black and White, which is due out August 30, 2023. mind.in.a.box is unique in that their albums form part of a cohesive storyline. Let’s get caught up.
Background behind Memories
In 2015, mind.in.a.box released their sixth studio album and the fifth chapter in the Dreamweb storyline, Memories. Austrian musician Stefan Poiss remains the primary creative force behind miab, producing the music and performing the vocals. Marcus Hedwiger continues to pen the lyrics, though this will be his last effort with the project.
About a month before Memories’ release, miab unveiled a music video for the track “Synchronize” that features amazing cyberpunk visuals. Shortly after the album’s release, they’ll drop another music video, for the song “Timelessness.” More about that one below.
My complaints about Revelations—the lack of narrative drive, fewer vocal effects, no hooks—are completely rewarded here. Memories fills in huge gaps of the story and propels it far forward. We practically have an entire Matrix universe going on now. Looking back, I suspect that Marcus wanted to tidy up his story before departing the project.
How the mind.in.a.box storyline progresses
Memories opens with a recap of the storyline so far. Black was an agent working for White at the Agency. They fought a group of rebels, known as the Sleepwalkers, who had access to a world called the Dreamweb. Black went undercover to find a key figure in the rebels called The Friend. When Black got too close, The Friend killed himself, or so Black thought. The Friend had switched over to the Dreamweb.
At a club, Black met a woman named Night, the “her” he was chasing all the way back in Lost Alone. Night showed him the Dreamweb and introduced him to the rebels. She told him that the music of a band named mind.in.a.box is the key to accessing the Dreamweb.
Following the recap, the storyline really takes off. Black learns how to harness the music to synchronize with the Dreamweb. In the Dreamweb, he’s able to escape the bad dreams that haunted him because of his past working for White. He reconnects with Night and The Friend, who is alive. Time is meaningless inside the Dreamweb.
Black battles White. He faces his former boss and the Agency’s men on a rooftop. A light appears out of nowhere, takes the form of The Friend, sears White’s hand, then disappears. Whoa, we’re really started to learn the Dreamweb’s power now.
I should take a moment to mention that an instrumental track called “Pedro” appears at this point in the narrative. Who the hell is Pedro? No idea.
As Black stands his ground against White, he remembers everything he did wrong in his past. He’s come to realize that he was controlled by the Agency and the Agency is evil. He’s at peace with himself and prepared to move into the future, and he swears he will never allow himself to be seduced by the Agency again.
Meanwhile, White returns to his lab in the Agency. He’s testing subjects on a mind-machine, attempting to gain access to the Dreamweb. Lab personnel carry away a body whose head exploded, another failed test. White attempts another test (number 208) on a naked man, head shaved, sitting in a mechanical chair. A machine inserts tubes into the man’s arteries, and blue liquid floods his veins. Vapor billows out of his mouth. The Agency uses a frequency they detected the night that Black escaped, but they can’t get the frequency to synchronize and open a door to the Dreamweb.
What the critics said about Memories
Release Music Magazine: “As on all of their previous albums, the dynamic Austrian duo tells a thrilling future-esque story on Memories. As mesmerizing as that narrative is, it is very easy to get lost in other intricate details. The quirky, yet irresistible vocals, the sheer construction of sounds or their otherworldly sense of melody.” (Full review)
IDie:YouDie: “Memories has loads more to offer folks who prefer the classic mode of m.i.a.b. records though, while the longer, proggier song structures of newer releases is more or less maintained, but there’s a real return to the classic cyber instrumentation of many of the songs, with chimes and huge sweeping pads colouring in the textures which were most recently handled by guitars. While the rock instrumentation still makes appearances here and there (like the six string accents on the aforementioned opener “Travel Guide” and the processed power chords that show up on “Face It”), this is more or less a classic mind.in.a.box album from a production and sound design standpoint.” (Full review)
Memories’ standout track
On “Timelessness,” mind.in.box sound more than ever like their futurepop contemporaries in bands such as VNV Nation and Covenant, albeit in their own unique way. Stev softly coos through his trademark vocoder, which gives the track a soothing, contemplative vibe. Beyond the narrative aspect of miab, “Timelessness” stands alone as a song about the sacred power of music to comfort you. The chorus—”You. You feel a deep sense of sacredness. You fall asleep, you feel timelessness”—is unforgettable, one of the best in miab’s catalog.