Stendhal's CD Impure could have easily been subtitled "Dare" simply because that is what they did. This four-piece outfit didn't strive to create a formulaic album with pretty choruses and glittering lyrics. Instead, they defiled every inanimate object known to man, and like the Blue Man Group, created order from the chaos. They utilized no synthesizers, samplers or digital manipulation of any kind but rather enmeshed the sound of guitar and bass that were put through the rigors of banging and bowing and wove them through a strange cacophony that included everything from metal detectors, oscillators, televisions, and scrap metal.
The Boat Song darkly opens like some ill-fated ship lost at sea. The noise effects give rise to an eerie soundtrack quality. Guitars are abused to reach the right note within the parameters of disorder. 4th Passenger tends to have an alien quality to it. The song embraces the future with its stark sounds, catchy off beat rhythm and midnight quality vocals. Think Gary Numan meets Bauhaus. Double Image delves into a more goth rock friendly style song, clearly demonstrating that this band is quite capable of creating club friendly songs if they had to. In the break, we are once again treated to a sonic world that this band hears and interprets. Even if one is not too keen on avant-garde expression of sound, one cannot help but be amazed at how well this band expertly layers each tone.
Third Person Singular almost segues from the last song with guitar licks that are a tribute to every underground band that has come before them. This track harkens back to the early stages when punk was evolving into goth. Every Night takes a recorded voice and white noise and places it within the parameters of a heartbeat style rhythm. The lyrics are sung over this in an odd mix that resonates with the emphasis of the forlorn. Tundale veers again into the realm of early punk/goth with added background bonuses that one is hard pressed to identify. This is a haunted track full of kinetic energy.
Lucky 7 seems to emanate with an Asian influence with the way the intro portion of the song utilizes what sounds like cans and bottles, each clanged with a tonal intent that works well. Legend Song segues from the previous track with militaristic beats and guitar chords that are from the school of early Bauhaus and the Joy Division. The song leaps from the CD, almost demanding to be considered a classic, which it certainly deserves to be. Lord Dufferin starts a shoegazer style track that opens with 2 guitars and a drum, metronomically keeping time with the vocals, which then segues with tougher sounds to coalesce into a dark rock track.
The Girl With The Purple Face brings us into a mild reverie with sounds that are also backward masked at the opening. This track also works as one that would be club friendly to some extent because it pulsates with great energy between the somber moments. My Life To Live opens a haunted style piano instrumental that seems to have been recorded from a timeless past. Dialogue samples are layered under the music, indistinct, but adding to the element of mental reflection. Once again, the band utilizes sound to reflect the pervasiveness of technology replacing our memories and emotions.
Had Stendhal only created an album full of cacophony, their talent would have been highly suspect. However, they defied the laws of music by utilizing objects to create tones that work harmoniously in their songs. Much of this work is reflective of the early punk/goth transition, yet with the added machinations of objects that were never meant to be used as part of a music venue, they clearly brought the underground world full circle.
In a world where every 20 years everything old is new again, Stendhal pays great homage and does justice to the early roots of the punk/goth hybrid era. That is not to say that this is an album steeped in merely borrowed elements of that period. Instead, they have taken all that was great about that time, added some expert touches, utilized additional sound effects and handed us what could be a glorious future for the underground musical movement.
Stendhal demonstrated that a band does not need fancy gadgets to create something new and innovative. They took sound from the world around them, or tweaked it out of objects for the desired results, culminating in an album that is well done, thought provoking and entertaining. The work may not be to everyone's taste due to the somewhat experimental nature that is woven within the songs. However, fans of early underground work as well as "noise" fans, will find that it is a refreshing album.