REVIEW: V/A - "Denver Dark Arts Festival"

By JHR

Chain Border

Damn. The temptation to use the phrase 'Things to do in Denver when you're dead' is overwhelming. This probably means I'm the 23rd ReviewBot to mention same, but now I suppose I'd better find a way of working that phrase into the body of the review. Does 'Things to listen to in Denver when you're the living dead' work for you all? Probably not. Anyway, this CD is a compilation of Colorado goth, industrial and fellow-traveler bands who appeared at the Colorado Dark Arts Festival in May of 2002. And in the time-honoured manner, we shall listen to each one in turn and attempt to convey something relevant and/or amusing about them.

First on the conveyor-belt toward the rotating knives, we find Reynaldo Alvarado. In some curious musical laboratory, he appears to have sewn together the narrator from a zombie slasher film and a prog-rock guitarist. It's very much the sort of thing you'd stand there and stare at, slack-jawed with amazement and horror, while the creation lurched about the stage and glowered at the road-crew.

Following swiftly along are Pure Drama. There are soaring female vocals, suburban bass and great carwashes of synth pads. It's competent stuff, but I spent all four minutes and three seconds waiting for the track to kick off properly. On the other hand, maybe they've invented a remarkable new sub-genre: chill-out goth. I should like to find out what sort of tunage this lot would belt out if they drank a case of cider and got a bit lairy.

"Bamp bamp bamp" and "Twurdle scronk" go the synths that belong to Solitary Sinners. And that's about it, really. Deep and doomy goth-vox and a distinct miasma of plod mean we're not exactly setting the synth/industrial scene afire with startling new tunage. Maybe setting Reynaldo's creation on them would scare a blistering analogue synth solo out of the chap(s). Or perhaps not.

Denver Dark Arts FestivalAnd now it's time for Project 12:01, who arrive in a shower of squitty bass and porn samples. Hm. Saccharine gurlyvox, windchime synths (aren't you allowed guitars in Denver?) and OMD's old drum-machine. It's...nice. Though with all the substance of a pair of fishnet tights. The problem is that I'm not a great one for 'nice' in the context of rock & roll.

Moving swiftly on we discover In Ether doing...something. And doing it very slowly, eight bars at a time. Well, if they think they're going to bore me into submission with mindless repetition, then they've another thing coming. I've listened to Glenn Branca and rather like Steve Reich. They/he/she/it do get several bonus points for lifting samples of John Lydon and Sid Vicious, though.

(Reviewer goes off and downloads Reich's 'Music for 18 musicians' from his website. And very fine it is too.)

Caustic Soul use a riff that's a lot like the Knight Rider theme and appear to play it in the style of an Amiga Demo. They've smuggled in a guitar too - there'll be Questions asked about that sort of free-thinking at the next Industrial Musician's Union meeting, mind.

I was hoping that The Siren Project would follow some futurist theme and create an Art of Noises from various sirens. No such luck. We're firmly in sultry and meaningful girly-led territory here. Pulsing bass and glacial strings give it all a distinct aura of 4AM, last bottle of wine and...

Oh, sod this for a game of soldiers. I'm going to the pub.

Contact Information:
Post: Indiego Promotions, 3650 Osage Street, Denver, CO, 80211, USA
Phone: (303) 433-8808
Fax: (303) 433-8228
E-Mail: info@indiego.com
Web: www.indiego.com

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