If you’re Martin Rev, the instrumental terror faction of confrontational electro masterminds Suicide, how do you unwind from getting attacked by audiences, overlooked by the general public and pioneering dance and industrial music? Simple. You make a compelling album that sounds like a NYC thrift store version of Kraftwerk, only heavy on the soul.
With “Mari,” Rev builds layer upon layer of cheapo toy and analog keyboards that echo the machine-dream romanticism of Brian Eno’s “Another Green World,” while adding a wide-eyed naiveté that the future will be both beautiful and fragile, and love will still matter; there’s heart in those gentle keyboard harmonies. All that loveliness is totally undone with “Baby Oh Baby,” when Rev’s sole vocal appearance consists of a whispered “tonight’s the night,” floating in and out of a repetitive bass-synth stomp. It’s hard to tell whether he’s wooing or leering at his baby.
“Nineteen 86’s” use of copious church bells wouldn’t have sounded out of place on the soundtrack to Prince of Darkness. (Hey, wasn’t that filmed in New York City as well?) Suddenly, you look around and realize that you’re drowning in subway grit and noir drama. The chimes layered over a miasma of tinny percussion and whooshing keyboards are reminiscent of the unfettered experimentalism on the second side of Bowie’s Low — all the heavy darkness is there too. Total Flash Gordon cool; people still can’t properly rip off songs like this .
“Jomo” sounds like one of those old arcade pinball machines, strapped to a hot rod, roaring through the city streets to the point where the headlights blur and smear into so many fluorescent light tubes. “Asia” really doesn’t boast any overt Eastern influences, though it is exotic as hell, with two repeatedly hammered piano notes (the low ones), drums like a palpitating heart and this weird effect that sounds like a xylophone being broken. “Coal Train” is pretty cool and swaggering, with teeth made of switchblades and a droning sax sample toward the end. It’s brutal funk will make you feel like you’re in the wrong part of town, way too late at night.
“5 To 5” predates Coil in a pretty frightening manner, nervous breakdown and/or possession musique. “Wes” is wayyyy urban with its big-city soundz: some old hip-hop, some Spector and tons of radio-melting-pop. It’s a collage of bright light overload, as people are leaning out the windows, grooving to their neighbors’ radios. “Daydreams” is avante-garde muzak doo-wop that the Residents would dig.
Suicide’s Alan Vega told me that they have to do solo shit to stay sane and keep Suicide fresh. Man, these fellas have some fucking brilliant hobbies. What do you do in your free time?