Voicecoil – Strange Days

Posted: 19 August 2022 in Albums
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

5th August 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Lately, I’ve been seeing people on the Internet bemoaning the number of ‘lockdown’ albums, and even the emergence of ‘lockdown’ novels, questioning the need for anything that recreates, recounts, reflects upon or is otherwise set during the most recent of historical events. They all seem to make more or less the same case – that we all went through it, it was bad enough, and there’s no need to harp on or relive it. But artists tend to process and comprehend the world and their experiences of it through the act of creation, and just because we all experienced the pandemic and various lockdowns, no two people will have had the exact same experience or the exact same psychological response. Besides, isn’t more or less all art some form of response or reaction to the human condition, or otherwise a reflection thereof? No-one beefs about an excessive amount of war novels or poems or various genre novels, like crime or sci-fi or fantasy. Perhaps it’s because they prefer escapism to real life.

As the accompanying blurbage explains, ‘This album is a reflection of the dark days the world has seen in recent years. It’s about the tragedies many of us have faced and the effort to find the will to fight on. We remember those we have lost because it is through them that we carry on into tomorrow’.

Strange Days is pitched as ‘a symbolic re-birth for the project, returning with a new zeal to create and perform’, and it’s not short on pumping beats and rippling synths. What sets it apart from so many other industrial / electropop / darkwave hybrids is Voicecoil’s vocal: it’s in that gothy baritone region, but for all of that, and the sense of performance and theatre that comes with those well-established genre tropes, his delivery had a certain emotional depth and sincerity that lifts the songs to another level.

So where ‘Versterbrogade’ comes on like a dance remix of a Depeche Mode in terms of its musical arrangement, and the verses observe the popular style of singing in the throat, a wheezy, grit-edged monotone, the verses unleash the hook and some ‘proper’ singing with heart and soul, and in doing so breathes life into the bleak experience of life where days drift and fade into one another. ‘Speak in Sine’ brings a harder-edged beat and a starker atmosphere, and it sits well with the themes of dislocation and alienation which run through the lyrics. ‘No Easy Reply’ is remarkably sensitive, not to mention accessible, and Strange Days has some great tunes, from the expansive, pulsating yet reflective ‘Why’ to the brooding piano-led curtain-closer of ‘Drift’.

While electronic music – particularly of that dark pop / industrial / goth disco persuasion – can often suffer from feeling sterile, detached, robotic, and impersonal, Strange Days is anything but. It possesses a certain warmth, a humanity, that resonates on numerous levels.

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