Hard to believe a duo separated by two continents can produce music as whole and homogenized as if they were in the same studio, but Floridian Martha M. Arce and Germany's Christian Kobusch prove that technology can overcome any and all obstacles in a postmodern, get-it-done-now society such as ours. The Fine Line Between Love and Hate, a consummation of two driven talents, is as close to oneness as a music lover is going to hear.
Seething lyrics about sexuality and rejection fuel this pop synth album that is as danceable as it is luxuriant. It parties hard yet engages the brain without the need for any external stimuli. The angry vocals of Martha M. Arce, which ring like a hybrid of Allison Moyet and Pat Benetar, are felt more than heard while her overseas counterpart, Kobusch, fills an intricate and abundant basket of electronic cornucopia that satisfies the listener, even with the bountiful guest DJs appearing on The Fine Line Between Love and Hate who offer a smorgasbord of remixes.
The disc opens with Super Crush, a hard-driving jam with an infectious pop melody sprinkled generously with assorted digita that gives the track a hyper real dance mesh ambience. Fever crashes out next, a Frankie Bones-like hammering beat with sweeping synths and even more sweeping vocals by Arce. Fever is an ankle-swaying, tailor-made club grinder, as if Yaz/Erasure suddenly went punk. You Want Me, You Hate Me features a house beat on the original track with fierce psychosomatic eroticism. Arce's vocals here are both phallic and vaginal, slamming an aural member into any orifice that will accommodate it. The remix by Assemblage 23 features a galloping tempo that is agreeable to the sexual angst of Arce's voice; in fact, the remix lends extra sexiness.
In My Dream features a hard thrum beat amidst some pretty brilliant and playful textures, an eighties-minded motif crafted expertly with a 20th century tweaking. In contrast, The Context Remix by Propaganda is a grind core mix that feels like the track ought to be considered for the next Blade flick. Drop rings like Yanni in the opening moments then shimmies and slinks both in tempo and vocals. Drop has a seductive, sexual bridge with a climactic ending, underscored by Arce's prolonged ecstasy moans.
Haunted sneaks in an old school beat box with ethereal piano scores and temporal basslines that give off a light spookiness. Perhaps at home in a Phantasm installment, Haunted unexpectedly jumps into a dance step beat, a somewhat clever maneuver that could've been cheeky if Kobusch wasn't so skillful with his art. Kobusch's art is deftly displayed on Your Own Jewel, with his cool, jazz-influenced piano and popular adult influence. Arce's vocals sound urgent amidst the weepy instrumentalization. Your Own Jewel is certainly a gem, melancholic and refined in the best sense.
Hate Factor is an angrier re-interpretation of the tracks preceding it, hosting a caustic beat that somehow works with its stylish orchestration. The Fear Remix by Sabotage is an odd offering, industrial oriented and rather aloof in a Skinny Puppy fashion. Fever returns twice on the album, once in an Analog Remix by Forma Tadre that is what the subtitle hints: basic and stripped. And then Fever is reprised as a hidden track, as if to drive home a point: the song is a Distorted Reality staple. Finally, the Super Crush (ND Sodium Mix) by Null Device features a highly different tone than the original, almost farcical with its catchy harmony that serves as an antithesis to Arce's pissed-off snarls and whispered choruses.
That aside, The Fine Line Between Love and Hate is a huge accomplishment, both for Arce and Kobusch, and also for Nilaihah Records. Distorted Reality is damn near the real deal, and to have that kind of budding talent in one's stable must be exciting as all get out.
Post: Nilaihah Records, PO Box 82614, Columbus, OH, 43202-0614, USA
Phone: (614) 297-7009
(1) And I said as much back in
(2) My review of this album was in Legends #99.
(3) For more on this, see the feature interview with The Last Dance elsewhere in this issue.