Sep 10, 2007

More Album Reviews

Rather than buying a bunch of several-years-old music to review again, I figured I'd just see what I've bought this year that was actually released this year, and review that instead. So, here goes:

Judgement - VnV Nation
The seventh album from techno/industrial/dance icons Ronan Harris and Mark Jackson is fairly stock VnV Nation, with a couple of decent standout tracks and several less interesting pieces.

"The Farthest Star" is a solid song; not terribly revolutionary in VnV's catalog, but very listenable. "Testament" hearkens back to the hard-driving beat of "Chrome" back on the "Matter + Form" album and is probably the best track on the album -- it's not as hard as "Chrome," and it's not quite as good, either. "Nemesis" tries to go the same way, but it's not as successful.

"Illusion" is probably the best example of a bad VnV Nation track. It's a slow and melancholy track where Harris, from London via Dublin, drones out some very strangely and awkwardly phrased lyrics to no particular meter.

The world is just illusion trying to change you.
Being like you are
Well this is something else, who would comprehend?
But some that do, lay claim that
Divine purpose blesses them
That's not what I believe, it doesn't matter anyway
I'm not sure if this is just improvising lyrics to go with the music or what, but it really hits my ear all wrong. And he's just so damned earnest in his nonsense, that it's difficult for me not to be annoyed.

VnV Nation is decent when they have a good beat to drive their songs, but precious few of their slow tracks are listenable, mainly because the nonsense lyrics are thrown into sharp relief.

Enjoy the Fall - Edge of Dawn

I got this album after a track showed up on my iTunes recommended for you list. That list is usually laughably bad at predicting music that I might like, but in this case, it did very well by me indeed.

Edge of Dawn is a sort of evolutionary project, I gather. It started as a solo project by German industrial musician Mario Schumacher in 1998, but didn't really come together until 2005, when Schumacher got together with Frank Spinrath, who is also the lead singer of the industrial act Seabound. After a couple of EPs, Enjoy the Fall is their first full-length release.

Unlike the vast majority of German-to-English EBM/Techno/Industrial/Whatever music, the tracks on Enjoy the Fall don't trip up by presenting serious awkward phrasing with intensely serious delivery. It reminded me a bit of another German band called Wolfsheim which also does the German-to-English transition quite well, though Edge of Dawn is considerably less poppy than Wolfsheim.

Tracks like "Black Heart," "Damage," and "Elegance" are pretty straightforward EBM tunes, with good beats but no real surprises. "Isolation" starts out a bit like a Nine Inch Nails track, but turns fast and energetic rather than fast and noisy.

"Chamber Six" has a musical style very reminiscent of recent Skinny Puppy, but without the massive vocal distortion that SP still hasn't managed to get away from.

"Pray for Love" and "Beauty Lies Within" are pretty good approximations of what a collaboration between Roxy Music and Frontline Assembly would have sounded like (better than you'd expect).

All in all, if you like non-trance techno music, Enjoy the Fall is a very good album that, like most music of its type being made these days, sounds a few years older than it really is. There's nothing particularly evolutionary here, but there's a lot of good stuff.

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