Review: Cyborg A.D. ‘2037’

Like an intergalactic spectre emerging from the frozen vacuum of space to be warmed by the sun, comes the music of Cyborg A.D. For the following half an hour we, the listeners, will be exposed to the cosmic synth-punk of Colin Mifsud’s latest offering under the moniker of Cyborg A.D. When he isn’t breaching the boundaries of space and time, Mifsud calls Dublin his home.

Cyborg A.D. '2037'

Having been a permanent fixture of the Irish hardcore scene since the dawn of time, Mifsud has contributed pummeling drums to noise punx Disguise (Static Shock Records) and dirge peddlers Drainland (Southern Lord) and continues to produce high-quality, conceptual art and music within the Dublin underground to present. Released via Halifax based Donor Records, 2037 is Cyborg A.D.’s first outing since 2015s Droids (available through Dogs And Vultures Records).

Under the pseudonym Cyborg A.D., Mifsud merges the stomping hardcore rhythms of Negative FX with the synth new wave of Devo to create a science fiction punk opera that transcends strange aeons. 2037 and indeed Cyborg A.D. as an entire project are interesting for several reasons.

Firstly, this is not your run-of-the-mill hardcore punk act. Yes, the classic tropes and current trends can all be found here, however, Cyborg A.D. brings a unique flavour to the mix. Alongside the consistent d-beat to mid-tempo attack that has become standard of hardcore, we are met with spiralling, melodic pop inspired synth and keyboard. This creates a bafflingly enjoyable listen, as Cyborg A.D.’s brutal, no frills hardcore is disguised under a blanket of new wave euphony. A standout track, The Vessel Of Time, executes this formula perfectly; the mid-tempo stomp that would feel at home among 80s Boston hardcore acts like SSD or Jerry’s Kids, is mutated into something completely different when amalgamated with the upbeat keyboard and phased out synth, reminiscent of the Screamers.

Secondly, Cyborg A.D.’s real signatory, on top of being a multi-instrumentalist, is an accomplished and engaging storyteller. Colin Mifsud has here not just created a collection of songs, but a narrative, characters and events within an entire universe. 2037 is not only a ‘concept album’ but a chapter within a larger part of science fiction lore that, when accompanied with his previous release, tells the story of a mad scientist who is mutilated in an accident. Riddled with self-blame and isolation, Cyborg A.D.’s noisy dispatches explain how he births humanoid droids as a manifestation of the spite against the human race that he abandoned.

Combining the spiteful ferocity of noise-laden old-school hardcore with the dance crazed synth keyboards of 80s electro and new wave…

Several years after the events of the previous release, 2037 acts as a sequel in which we learn that the now cyborg scientist has awoken from hyper-sleep, lost somewhere amongst alien stars, he hatches a plan to alter space-time and rebuild his past life. This is masterful sci-fi storytelling/world building that is lost among guttural and distorted screams (not a negative, in my opinion) that truly make this release and acts as something of an anomaly among the paint-by-numbers weird, noise driven hardcore that is released relentlessly, year after year. If you snag this release, do yourself a favour and request the lyrics from the label/Bandcamp – you won’t want to miss some of the best in underground weird fiction of today.

Cyborg A.D.’s 2037 is a unique take on an idea that is old hat. Combining the spiteful ferocity of noise-laden old-school hardcore with the dance crazed synth keyboards of 80s electro and new wave, Mifsud has produced something atmospheric, strange but entirely entertaining. These two concepts, while isolated, may have been passable, but when taken together and combined with an excellent story of cosmic drama and body horror, we are left with something worth remembering.

With that being said, these ideas are not new. While listening to this I couldn’t help but think of several bands of the same ilk that were popular a few years back. The electro/Devo infused hardcore take reminded me of Perth’s Kitchen People, while the fuzzed-out synth overlayed with stomping punk drumming harked back to Nova Scotia’s Booji Boys. Nevertheless, I’d still pick Cyborg A.D. out of the lot, all down to the engaging world that Mifsud has built around this project.

Where will it go next? Be sure to find out for yourself by picking up a copy of 2037. Exclusive cassettes are available now, released by Doner Records on cassette and digital download from January 1st 2022.

Label: Donor Records
Band Links: Bandcamp

Scribed by: Mark Louth