REVIEW: Otto's Daughter - "Void of Course"

By Christopher Eissing

Chain Border

Void of CourseOtto's Daughter has created a gem with their inaugural release, Void of Course. Drawing heavily from existing well-established trademarked sounds of the giants of New Wave and Industrial, Void of Course profits greatly from strong studio-work and excellent productions standards.

Otto's Daughter belongs unmistakably to Singer/Songwriter Jacqueline van Bierk. Serving as both front person and lead singer she brings an amazing amount of energy and sexual angst to her sound. She is at her best when working with subdued anger, sexual overtones, and at times mild rage. Their overall sound is very, I repeat, very recognizable.

Fistful of Lies dances dangerously on the edge of plagiarizing both Nine Inch Nails and Depeche Mode. The drum and bass are so close to NIN's Closer its hard to tell them apart through the first few seconds of the song. Also, the passing refrain is almost note for note to the secondary melody in Depeche Mode's Its No Good. Hush is eerily similar to Curve's On The Wheel. Throughout Void of Course Van Bierk's vocal stylings almost mimic Curve's Toni Halliday. It is no surprise they have been pushing their recent cover of Depeche Mode's Stripped.

Throughout the album much of the sound and music is eerily close to familiar works by established artists. This is about 50% the songwriting and about 50% the production. I have always wanted to know what would happen if I took NIN's Pretty Hate Machine and Depeche Mode's Ultra, dropped them in a blender, and added a dash of the Doom Generation Soundtrack.

Now I'm not complaining. These are some of my favorite albums, so I give Void of Course a definite nod for your collection. It possesses a sound slick enough to convey what Robert Palmer meant when he said "She's so fine, there's no telling where the money went." It shows.

In a brief email Q&A with van Bierk I inquired just how deliberate were they in adding sexual and aggressive overtones and undertones to their music, to capitalize on the fact it will be sung by an attractive and energetic woman. "That is silly question," van Bierk countered, before delivering a small diatribe about how the songs and the band are not based on sex, or her looks, and how it is a collaborative effort.

That may be true. But for as much as it may have also been true for No Doubt, 10,000 Maniacs, The Sugar Cubes, the New Bohemians, and others, a band comprised of males backing the likes of van Bierk, Gwen Stefani, Natalie Merchant, Bjork, or Edie Brickel, in even a non-subdued fashion often still will wind up being seen as a back up band. By the audience. And by the record execs and promoters.

In their promotional materials the other band members take a step back and are dressed in black, a contrast which makes van Bierk, usually dressed colorfully and revealingly, stand out all the more. Add this to an angry/sexy stage presence, their selection of covers, the selection of the name 'Angelwhore' for their record label (a vanity label I would surmise as I can find nothing no mention of them anywhere except in connection with OD), and her role as prime correspondent, and my question is, how can this not be deliberate?

Many bands have capitalized and ridden a sexy female lead to stardom, making no bones about what their image was. I respect that and applaud it, but don't try to feed me the line how "its all about the music" when all other evidence points to exploiting van Bierk's appearance for appeal.

On their website Otto's Daughter credits include: Jacqueline van Bierk (vocals/songwriter), Californian native HH Gadget (Drummer/Songwriter), S.A.Sebastian Gnolfo (bass), Dan Esser and Jim Robbins (guitars)

On Void of Course' they list their lineup as: Jacqueline van Bierk (vocals), Hamid Ace Velcro (drums), Ced Halbach (keys) and Eric Angelo (guitar). However, there is no mention of any of these artists in OD's website bio. This is not done to nit-pick. Simply to illustrate, that as much as they may take a public stand they are a collaboration, the band belongs to Van Bierk. Throughout different incarnations of the band and a web bio that doesn't seem to jibe with the CD credits, the single constant in Otto's Daughter is van Bierk.

Void of Course is a strong album, for as much as its overall sound is an easily recognizable hodge-podge drawn from commercially successful artists in both composition and engineering. Otto's Daughter's all too familiar sound, combined with van Bierk's attractiveness and aggressive attitude and stage presence make them, or should I say her, a prime pick for eventual mass appeal and MTV success if they can get past the fallacy they are a collaboration when it comes to getting noticed.

Buy The Album
Buy Void Of Course

Contact Information:
Post: Angelwhore Records, P.O. Box 8198 North Bergen NJ

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