The year 2000 definitely belonged to Fiction 8. The band erupted from the underground and left an indelible impression upon our psyche, thanks to their song inclusion of Let Go, featured on the Resistor* compilation from Nilaihah records. This song ignited a fiery international interest, which had fans and DJ's expeditiously seeking out information and other music from this "new" band.
Fiction 8 is not an overnight success story by any means. According to their press release, the band had initially formed in 1993, lead by Michael Smith, also founder of the group. This American band initially unveiled their sound in Europe and had enjoyed a bit of success rendered from numerous compilation appearances. This attention ultimately garnered them their first full album release in 1996, Dissonance*InDifference, from Discorida Records (Germany), which almost assured that an imminent breakthrough was just around the corner. The glad tidings were foreshortened however, as everything came to a grinding halt. Discorida folded later that year, leaving the band tied up with a legal contract with no actual physical company representing them. Their follow up release, Spirits, hoped to garner the momentum they had previously achieved but they soon discovered another harsh reality of the music world. A two-year stagnation and complication arose due to the aforementioned contractual problems, which prevented this work from receiving the proper attention it merited upon its initial release. It wasn't until 1999 when Spirits was released on the Trisol/Matrix Cube (Germany) label that the band found the ability to find a sense of relief from these entanglements. During the interim of the CD releases, the band had regrouped to include Steve Hart and later Mardi "Paisli" Salazar, both of whom had brought a whole new creative and stabilizing influence to the band.
Thankfully, the folks over at Nilaihah ingeniously signed them up and brought their music to the American shores for a domestic pressing. Fiction 8 released Chaotica, which heralded many accolades from the underground music world, both in the States and abroad. As of this writing, it is not uncommon to hear any number of Fiction 8 songs on the internet or college radio shows as well as in clubs across the country. Most recently, while driving down a highway, someone was blasting Let Go from their car and I couldn't help but smile for the group's success.
The style is still within the EBM/Industrial/Darkwave realm and is meant to unleash a torrent of sweaty bodies on a club dance floor. The band proudly struts their stuff, displaying a multitude of talent that is part dance, part head music and pure talent to make you want to move.
The disc itself opens with the title track, Chaotica, a blend of noise and electronic percussive effects meant to invite us into this world of nihilistic upheaval. The name itself implies a harmonization of the erotic through chaos, represented by the multitude of noises and samples that are intermingled with the temperate resonation. The title track segues into the now infamous Let Go, and we obligingly release ourselves for the next hour or so. The remainder of the disc has a collection of highly dance infectious songs of varying rhythms, chorus and chord inflections which many DJ beat mixers will find to be a pure delight. Fiction 8 seem to fall between the cracks of what could be classified as a goth/industrial crossover, yet they also maintain a very dark electronic pop appeal.
Most of the vocals are rather subdued in a wash of compression; however, it must be pointed out that Salazar delivers an excellent turn as lead vocalist on the song Somnabule. She grasps the body of the lyrics and weaves them around the cybernetic cadences and effects, clearly owning every moment of it. Her support as backup vocalist also tends to render a sense of warmth and symmetry to the music, bringing it beyond a mere electronic dance song. One can only hope that she is featured as lead on a few more songs in the future as well.
Fiction 8 has arrived and deservedly so. After paying their dues for the past 8 years, it is heartwarming to see that their persistence and talent has enabled them to be positioned at the forefront of the dark underground music scene. With the success this band is already generating, the doors have opened a bit wider to embrace other artists who are making dark music that is not necessarily goth or industrial. It may only be a matter of time before the rest of the world discovers the great artistry that has been buried beneath the cloak of night of the underground aficionados.
* Reviewed in Legends # 101, August, 2000.