Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Black Strobe "Burn Your Own Church" (2007)

PITCHFORKMEDIA.COM: This French dance act has spent years and years living up to its name, turning out singles, mixes, and remixes with a lovably brutal aesthetic-- a grim combination of flickering synthesizers, clenched-teeth rave-era energy, and calls back to the epic, addled clanging of old European hardcore. Along with acts like Vitalic, you might even give them some credit for helping usher the electro boom of the early 00s into the new land of grand, buzzy electro-house. And now, after the very significant departure of founder Ivan Smagghe, after bulking up to an actual instruments-and-all band, and after finally having gotten around to producing an LP, they offer us...bad metal? Instead of keeping up the clean-lined flicker of their best work, Black Strobe have slathered Burn Your Own Church in rock stuff: bottom-heavy power-chord snarl, lascivious grunting, and levels of dark posturing that rival the most ludicrous depths/heights of the goth era. Lengthy stretches sound like Trent Reznor, Glenn Danzig, and Korn have teamed up to host a Belgian drag competition.

I know, I know: That makes it sound kind of awesome, right? Except in this competition, Marilyn Manson wins, and the first ear-grabbing track is trying depressingly hard to sound like NIN's "Closer". The most mind-blowing thing about this album, in fact, is that it can spend so much time in the land of over-the-top ludicrous goth preening without ever getting any fun-- hell, not even any camp-- out of it. I mean, between Rammstein and last year's Eurovision song contest being won by guys who actually dress up as monsters, the stakes for dark-rock amazement are pretty high: Not even the French have much excuse for finding nu-metal chugging exciting and exotic, let alone anyone who's set foot in an American mall since 1992. Germany's T. Raumschmiere tried this two years ago, with his own electro-metal Blitzkrieg Pop, and it wasn't working then, either.

Granted, there's still a decent quotient of raw, pulsing synth around here ("Buzz Buzz Buzz"). A few of the band's electro-rock hybrids even achieve some grinding grandeur ("Last Club on Earth")-- no doubt you'd be perfectly happy to hear one on a night out. But consider that only one track embarrasses itself enough to really win hearts: a cover of Bo Diddley's "I'm a Man", done over as a shuffling glam stomp. With Parisian Bo Diddley vocals. With a video featuring what looks like a teddy-boy Lemmy strutting around his own personal version of Shaft. There's a reason the video starts in front of a mirror: If you're gonna listen to something ridiculous, you might as well be able to make ridiculous faces, poses along with it, snarl along like a jackass in your car. And that's something the bulk of these tracks-- camp Diddley aside-- are surprisingly bad at facilitating.

Black Strobe may be a good thing, historically, but this record isn't: Stick with "Me and Madonna", or "Italian Fireflies", or "Chemical Sweet Girl", or their remixes of Bloc Party, Alter Ego, Playgroup, and the Rapture, or "Nazi Trance Fuck Off", or their "Biggest Fan" remix for Martini Bros.-- any of years and years of stuff that works a whole lot better than this.



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home