REVIEW: Various Artists - "Cleopatra 2000"

By Mike Ventarola

Chain Border

Cleopatra 2000Despite the fact that this compilation reads like a who's who in the underground music scene, there was something unsettling about it. I finally realized that I have made the bias mistake of lumping Cleopatra compilations into the gothic grouping exclusively. The cover art is rather ambiguous and the missing liner notes somehow indicated that this project was rushed in case the millennium fatalists were correct about world explosion. All this aside, however, one will find rather interesting industrial tunes by some of the hottest names in the business.

Switchblade Symphony open the disc with Wicked, a selection off their third CD. Tina and Susan are on an indefinite hiatus, much to the chagrin of their worldwide fans, so incorporating some of their latter work on a CD that heralds the new era was a wise choice. Most of the songs on their last CD are more slow moving and trip hop. In a sense, many folks knee jerked their reactions to this duo attempting slightly different creative endeavors. Let's face it folks, no one does it like these ladies can. One can only hope they come back into the musical folds very soon. (We miss you ladies!!)

The Devil Inside is yet again remade, this time by that naughty band The Electric Hellfire Club. As much as this reviewer eschews songs dealing with anything devil/demonic related, it has to be handed to this group that they are just so good when they put something down on a recording.

Kevin Haskins' remixing of the Missing Persons song, Mental Hopscotch, is to be highly commended. It is admitted that a smile was brought to this reviewers face after hearing a band that were the darlings of the 80s being retouched and redone for the next generation. Dale Bozzio' little girl like vocals ring out of the abyss, generating a feel good attitude while subliminally indicating that we just need to learn to have some more damn fun in our lives.

Where were you when Gary Numan first hit the American shores for the first time with his hit Cars? Again, an artist from the 80s who helped to catapult MTV to the multi billion dollar industry is aptly placed here. Numan never left the music scene. He just got a tad bit darker and found himself lovingly embraced by the dark underground world of music aficionados. The song Dark is a good introduction to the direction his sound has taken over the years.

Spahn Ranch percolate with an industrial/futuristic dance track that could be played in just about any club. Admittedly, having fallen in love with Athan Maroulis' vocals in the many bands he has been in, I don't think I can find fault with anything he sings.

Sin City, as remixed by KMFDM for Genitorturers, is right on the edge of today's blistering pulse pounding industrial dance rhythms. This song is too infectious to ignore and I dare any club to play it and not find the crowds rushing to the dance floor.

Wasteland, from The Mission UK, opens with an intro that is a nod toward the goth sounds we have come to love so well. Needless to say, this particular song has long been a favorite for many underground music fans and various versions of it have been on other Cleopatra compilations. This song however has that "magic" that makes it an enduring classic. With The Mission UK stamp on a song, you can generally wager that it will be a worthwhile listening experience.

Bella Morte add the track The Rain Within Her Hands. The hard thing with reviewing this song is saying something about this phenomenal duo that hasn't already been said. All the accolades and word of mouth that has been given to them is well deserved and well earned. The vocals are passionate, pleasant and seductive while the music makes us to want to get up and dance!

A Flock of Seagulls' Jlab remix of Telecommunication is also available on the A Flock of Seagulls: Greatest Hits Remixed CD available from Cleopatra. Having been one of the first to line up to purchase the import 45 inch single of A Flock of Seagulls first hit I Ran, one can safely assume that there is a partiality towards this band. Jlab does a great job in taking a classic and breathing a new life for the next generation. The initial excitement that the original song created is somehow maintained while still giving the song added new twists and tweaks.

If Jim Morrison were alive today and making music, chances are he would be something like Eerie Von. An Investment in Hate is more hard edged and guitar driven than most of the other selections on the disc.

Culture Kultur bring us back to a goth feel with the intro opening of their song Inside Of Me. The Mesa remix that is featured here manages to give us a goth taste but then takes the song to a frothing electronic dance song that is tailor made to dance to in a darkened club.

Razed in Black are featured with the song Caught, which is a sonic industrial fury that should win them many more fans in this genre. It can safely be said, this group takes no prisoners. They lure you in and hook you to their sound.

Information Society burst upon the scene in the 80s and were heralded as they most intense innovators of the day. Their songs were remixed so many different ways back then, one can almost ponder what could possibly be done to their music that is new? This reviewer can attest to owning every remix that was made by this group, so naturally the curiosity to hear this new Leaether Strip remix was evident. Leaether Strip deconstructed this song to give it a more ominous but industrial dance feel that none of the other music maestro's thought to do way back when. The mournfulness of original song seems to be missing and is replaced with a more decadent desire.

Pig utilizes Rob Zombie style compressed vocals in this industrial/metal Keith LeBlanc remix of Rope. What is intriguing is the blending of the electronics to the sonic metal crossover that was well delivered with this track.

The major contention that is seen with this CD is the sequencing of the track selections. There is a certain flow between the songs that seems to be missing, despite the fact that they are all good tracks on their own. This can easily be altered by setting the program button on your stereo, so it isn't a fatal flaw for the CD by any means. Even though the disc has a rush job feel to it, this does not detract from the phenomenal body of work that is included. It can be said that there is something for everyone on this compilation, though goth purists may find it a bit grating. If one is looking for good dark industrial underground tunes and hybrid 80s classic remixes to dance to, it is well worth the price.

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