REVIEW - A New January - "After Clothes"

By Marcus Pan

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After ClothesThird album out from this Chicago-based electro/synthpop hybrid, After Clothes features the single of the same name with some other songs peppered about and salted with remixes of After Clothes - including one by Die Warsau's Jim Marcus. ANJ are a triplet consisting of Andres (vocals, keys, guitar), Chris (keys) and Kaven (keyboards & guitar).

Starting up in 1994 with a cassette release entitled Bleached Out Bubble Bath, the band decided to continue playing as A New January and released their first CD, Patchwork Shadows, two years later. The path shown between Bath and Shadows clearly shows the band moving deeper into a heavier sound, beginning with a new wave style in the earlier years and ending now with After Clothes (1998) which adds elements of heavier industrial and more elaborate electronica and rock influences.

In the fall of this year (2001), you can expect Cold and Naked; a full length already in post-production. Here the line-up changes a bit and replaces Kaven with Rich (keys, guitars, backing vocals). Look forward to an even heavier and more complicated A New January, judging by the path they're traveling thus far.

After Clothes is a fine release, even with four out of nine songs being After Clothes. You'll however note that most of the mixes offered are distinctive and fresh. All retain some semblance of the original. The Jim Marcus remix for example adds a bit of bass-line funkiness and ups the complication on the rhythm. Meanwhile the Raw version takes the song into a more computer-driven stance, with highly controlled guitar riffwork and electro noodling. While the original song's melody is hidden and subtle, it is nonetheless there and is recognizable as After Clothes.

Other offers here include Virtues; a laid back piece with hypnotic vocals and smooth movements. None of this song is power hungry and instead retains a melodic background with only occasional heavier rhythm additions used for a grounding effect. Green meanwhile opens with interesting fat-back drums and rolls into a smooth, mellow piece with surrounding metallic clicks and bubbling synths. A piano (like) is added to the mix along with vocals, relying on a disturbing flat-note clashing style that makes an interesting arrangement. They wrap up After Clothes with a live version of Forever in a Day.

I liked this CD. Usually when I get EPs that masquerade as LPs, with one or two songs mixed up a number of times throughout so the end result is you're getting really five new singles, I find myself wanting more and being a little disappointed. With After Clothes the title track remixes are distinctive and different, yet still retain the right to be called After Clothes. With exceptional tracks like the disturbing and clashing arrangement of Green, After Clothes has a lot to offer. And keep an eye out for the forthcoming Cold and Naked as well.

Contact Information:
Post: P.O. Box 1835, Arlington Heights, IL, 60005-1835

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