Blind Faith and Envy - The Charming Factor
By Marcus Pan
Many years ago, a group of
folks got together and created purely computeresque music. An attempt to fuse
modern day technology with music itself. They were called Kraftwerk. As the
musical landscape progressed, there became a strong separation between truly
"electronic" acts and truly "guitar" acts. And on the electronic side more
folks, with names like Erasure and New Order, took this new technology-driven
sound and re-infused humanity into it creating what many of us today call
In an effort to be fresh, new and original the "guitar" and
"electronic" camps started fucking each other and the result were folks like
Ministry, Nine Inch Nails and the heavier guitar-driven electronic. But at this
point things got very muddy, because it was possible to really suck at making
music. Just play louder, nobody will notice. There were stand-outs, sure, but
only truly creative musicians survived alone on the electronic side of camp as
in their world you listened to all the facets of the music without deafening
the other parts over it. It's called "arranging."
Enter Blind Faith and Envy a blend of all that was
wonderful from the synth-pop daze. Brilliantly programmed electronics by Daniel
Guenther, comfortably accomplished synthesizers and truly pleasing female
vocals from Charlene April. For any one of us that miss New Order, Erasure and
dig today's folks like Dissonance(1) and The Azoic(2), Blind Faith and Envy
will really move you to remembering how good a musician can be when it's about
playing better and not just louder.
Even shorter instrumentals like Texture are
reminiscent of the best of the old skool synth-pop while not at all sounding
dated or rehashed. Heavier and stompier pieces, like the club recommended
When I Know You're Gone, uses bass as a bouncy control agent to anchor
singer Charlene's smooth and sultry vocals. Building and layering rhythm,
percussion and further synthesizer tweaks, Blind's tracks grow into blooming
roses of colorful sound and pleasure. Catchy, upbeat but not by any means
The times when Daniel Gunether and Charlene April combine to
harmonize, the chorus of Shout, a Depeche Mode cover, for example, is so
blendingly smooth that you're hard pressed to tell the two apart though you
know there are two here. Brilliant. Even the tracks on The Charming
Factor that are not as good as the others are still worlds better than most
everyone else. Stand Me Relentless as one example is good but not as
stand out as Crowded Room, Golden Glass and others. But it is still a
good track nonetheless.
She Left in Silence brings the main body of The
Charming Factor to a slow ending. After this there are remixes by Blank,
Null Device (both do Crowded Room) and Neuractive (Major
Philosopher) at the end, following quite a number of empty skip tracks. The
electro laden remix of Crowded Room by Blank (Agoraphobia mix)
actually starts on track 31.
The Charming Factor is, easily, one of the best
synth-pop releases of the past couple years. Blind Faith and Envy sound as good
as when the genre emerged. As if they've stepped back a couple decades or so to
hang out with the elite of the electronic camp and then came back to this
millennium to drop their work and make us recall when new wave was...new.
Post: PO Box 82614, Columbus, OH 43202-0614, USA
Phone: (614) 297-7009
(1) Their Reincarnate release was
reviewed in Legends #120.
(2) The Azoics latest,
Conflict, was reviewed in Legends
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