Thursday, 6 October 2011

Death In Vegas - Trans-Love Energies - Review

Death In Vegas were first brought to my attention in the late 90's with their albums 'Dead Elvis' and 'The Contino Sessions'. I was a fan of their dark electro goth-rock and tracks which often featured notable guest vocalists such as Iggy Pop and Bobby Gillespie. 2002's 'Scorpio Rising' was an eclectic and slightly inconsistent piece of work that featured Liam Gallagher and Paul Weller amongst the guests. It was a couple of years before the follow up 'Satan's Circus' which was considered to be a disappontment, and after that Richard Fearless and Tim Holmes took a break, trying their hands at other projects which didn't turn out to be hugely successful. But now in 2011 DIV are back with a fifth album that strips back the excesses and focuses on carefully arranged electro grooves.

Fearless tackles most of the vocal duties himself, like on the opener 'Silver Time Machine' which warms things up slowly. Musically it sounds like the beast slowly awaking from a long slumber and gradually springing into life. There's no beats, just soft synths, sparse acoustic sounds and a breathy, cracked vocal. By using the same chords it pretty much acts as an intro to 'Black Hole', which kicks in with a Krautrock rhythm, woozy shoegaze guitars, a distorted sheet of electronic noise and an Iggy Pop-esque vocal. Meanwhile 'Your Loft My Acid' is built on wonderful vintage drum machines, acid house vibes and a seductive vocal from Austra's Katie Stelmanis. After a few listens it becomes a most enticing moment, bringing to mind Kraftwerk collaborating with Nico but with an edge that places it firmly in the 21st century.

'Medication' runs on an industrial beat and a flickering synth line which soon becomes home to a blissed out vocal, lovely ambient noise, 80's keys and even a slight hint of vintage Michael Jackson-style RnB. Then there's 'Coum', which is a bit like Joy Division with a disco beat but with a barely-there vocal and an array of warped electronic sounds that keep things interesting enough. 'Witchdance' has a striking and dirty sounding rave synth and keyboards that revive memories of Visage's 'Fade To Grey', along with more brilliant vintage drum machines and another darkly sexual female vocal from Stelmanis that almost makes it a near relative of 1999's 'Dirge'. Again retro drum machines and erotically charged vocals are a feature of album highlight 'Scissors', which also contains one of the finest hooks Death In Vegas have ever produced. 'Drone Reich' is probably quite an apt title for a long made up of long beautiful electronic notes. Yes it may be rather avant garde, but it is also most enjoyable. 'Lightning Bolt' slips by with a plucked bassline and some nice dub sounds but fails to hold interest for that long, while 'Savage Love' closes the record with more dreamy ambience and a recurring hook that slowly grows into something quite massive when the thunderous jungle drums arrive with a throbbing wall of decayed guitars.

Overall 'Trans Love Energies' is a fairly cohesive album that seems to have a dark sexual thread running through it. It's certainly as wildly eclectic as 'Scorpio Rising', but it makes for a record that has more of a direction and more of a defined idea of where it wants to be. While the album starts in a rather dark fashion this mood reaches a peak with the pleasing highlight 'Witchdance'. And what follows it seems to approach the light at the end of the tunnel. Definitely an album that takes a while to sink in, but overall 'Trans Love Energies' is a rewarding and inspired listen. 7.5

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