Steampunk Cabaret, Mellow Lounge, and Glorified Spoken Word

A couple of months ago, when I didn’t yet have the Internet at my apartment here in Seoul, I went to a PC Room to check my email, and while there,  searched for anything related to AllThisIsMeaningless or C/Fe Records as I do on occasion.  I was rather surprised to see something new this time:  Re:Gen Magazine’s review of the C/Fe Menagerie.  I couldn’t help but to be pleased with the review overall, despite the three-star rating, particularly the comments on AllThisIsMeaningless:

The last artist, AllThisIsMeaningless, is the most genre-bending and unusual of the bunch and is most likely to either excite or confuse. Mixing indie rock, electronics, and cabaret-like vocals, AllThisIsMeaningless employs a seemingly intentional rough sound mix giving the impression that at least part of it is coming out of an old phonograph. This gives the work the strange feeling of new and old technologies clashing, like an aural interpretation of steampunk fashion.

Better than I could have imagined.  “Cabaret-like vocals?”  “New and old technologies clashing?”  “An aural interpretation of steampunk fashion?”  How could I not be happy with this review?

It is unfortunate to see The Still Lifes work characterized as “glorified spoken word,” but then I’m fairly certain Ikarus and Willem will take that as a compliment, and they’ve publicized their music as spoken word from the beginning, so it’s hard not to feel too badly for them.  I’m am a bit surprised by the lack of interest in “Sebastian Says, “Checkmate, I think,” if for no other reason than it is the best mixed track on the sampler, in my opinion.  Yes, I mixed it, but that’s beside the point.  It’s a cool track.  By the way, I’ve heard some of the stuff they’re working on (these guys are taking almost as long on their album as I am).  It’s still spoken word, but they seem to be ditching the noise for the most part for something more accessible.

As far as the comments on the MusiM tracks, I maintain that those tracks are far, far from John’s best work, and with everyone getting wet over these three tracks I  imagine their heads will explode when they hear his really good shit.

Read the full review here.

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Kill Mother Fucking Depeche Mode

Yes, I know that is not really what KMFDM stands for, but this post is not really about them anyway – this post is about Depeche Mode, and how we should decidedly not kill them (we should kill Good Charlotte instead – are they still making music?  I can’t tell you what it is, but something about those guys makes me want to punch them in their mouths).

Depeche Mode is a band I’ve loved for a long time, but as of late mainly for their past work, as I’d all but written them off  in recent years.  Enter Scott, to introduce me to Playing the Angel and Sounds of the Universe, and by Jove, they are damned good albums – perhaps their best bits of work to date.  Erase from your mind what or who you think Depeche Mode are, and go buy these two albums.  I can’t get enough of them.  I’ve woken up with “Precious,” or “A Pain That I’m Used To,” or “Truth Is (You’re Miles Away)” or “Corrupt” in my head every morning for the past two weeks (and this morning I can add another to the list, waking up with “Perfect” – and the song hasn’t left me all day).  And it’s not just catchy hooks and riffs:  they are musically, technically and lyrically very, very good.

I recall my introduction to Depeche Mode, 1990 or so, when my eldest sister brings Violator to my room, and plays first “Personal Jesus,” followed by “Waiting for the Night” (one may argue that part of my particular attachment to Violator is due to sentiment – associating the album with the relationship I had with my departed sister).  Nonetheless, at the time I didn’t really know what to make of it.  “Personal Jesus” was a foreign, but “Waiting for the Night” fascinated.

It would be several years until I really considered myself a fan of the band (I actually have a hard time considering myself a “fan” of any band – but that’s a conversation for another time), but I have since collected a few other albums.  Unfortunately, though they’d done some decent music on the two albums following the near-perfect Violator (I maintain songs four through seven of Violator consist of one of the best mid-album track listings of all time), I never felt Songs of Faith and Devotion or Exciter really captured the, um…goodness (I’m tired and can’t think of an appropriately pretentious word or description) of previous works and I wrote them off as having their best behind them.  Until now.  This has been a reinvention of sorts, which Scott speculates was spurred on by the loss of keyboardist Alan Wilder (among other band problems, not the least of which being Dave Gahan’s heroin addiction and subsequent recovery), who felt that his contributions to the band had been substantially more than the amount respect and credit he received for it.  The process has been long for them, but worth it, in my opinion.  Playing the Angel and Sounds of the Universe, with few exceptions, consist of the things we love about music:   a nice balance of surprise and fulfilled expectation, and a sense of the ineffable come to mind, not to mention being lyrically apropos for my year.

These last two albums are just… good.  Damn.  Good.

P.S.  Please don’t kill Good Charlotte.  No amount of bad music is worth taking a life.