CD Review

Blind Faith and Envy - “The Charming Factor”

By Marcus Pan

The Charming FactorMany 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 "synth pop."

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 Prozac-ian.

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.

Contact Information:
Nilaihah Records
Post: PO Box 82614, Columbus, OH 43202-0614, USA
Phone: (614) 297-7009
E-Mail: info@nilaihah.com
Web: www.nilaihah.com
(1) Their Reincarnate release was reviewed in Legends #120.
(2) The Azoic’s latest, Conflict, was reviewed in Legends #140.

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