CD Review

Noxious Emotion – “Symbols”

By Marcus Pan

SymbolsI have been getting a lot of CDs lately. Bands and labels have been very supportive of Legends and they’ve been nearly pouring in – thanks to them all. Most of the time the CD will be something good – not great, just good. Occasionally the CD will rival new levels of badness. But every now and then one comes in that I would have paid for if I had known of the band before. One worthy of plunking down the dozen or so dollars to infuse the work into my collection. Needulhed was one of these; before that was My Scarlet Life. This month, however, the CD that I would have plunked down the money to happily cart home and annoy my not-quite-goth family with is Noxious Emotion’s most recent release, “Symbols.”

There are three artists that make up NE, Michael Wimer, Godboy & Fritter, and they have a fairly long history of music making. Appearances on more than fifteen compilations from such labels as Cleopatra Records, Doppler Effect and Apocalypse. They’ve toured considerably and released a number of full length releases including “Count Zero” and “This Hallowed Ground.” They’ll also be touring again in August (1999) in support of “Symbols” appearing with Fockewolf throughout the northern US. Symbols debuted at number 12 on the CMJ’s RPM chart and has sat in the top 40 for over 3 months. Not bad for a little-known group…they should be much bigger than they are.

SymbolsSymbols is a wonderful collection of music. Treading somewhere between 80s synth-pop and Puppy-like computeresque beat-noise, Noxious Emotion turns out a highly danceable collection of industrial and electronic sounds. They describe it as “elektro-body-music.” The sounds of NE are very computeresque – metallic bass lines, slightly modified vocalizations with a deep, but not growling, ambience and data-style bits and bleeps. The beats and percussion are minimal for the most part, but the bass lines add enough movement throughout the songs to keep things flowing at a rapid and body moving pace. Samples are well-placed and add to the feel of the songs rather than the usual “Hey, this is getting boring – let’s throw some silly movie quote here.”

Slagging off usual numbering and tracking conventions, Noxious Emotion kept to the name of the CD and has their tracks listed by symbols – Grecian it looks, though I’m not sure. Tracks to listen to are the third, called “The Unknown,” the ninth, “Mass” and the last on the album, “Indefinate & Unspecified.”

“The Unknown” has a popping, data-stream kind of sound. It’s a highly sexual song complete with seductive lyrics and a body-pounding drum track. “You wanna scratch me, The pleasure swirling in the pain.” It’s a story of unbridled lust and passion complete with music and sounds that seem to fit perfectly with the subject matter. The vocals are subdued through most of the song excepting the chorus, where they become lustful and strong – a climax, if you will. “Take me! Touch me! Pull me! Fuck me!” Aww yeah.

Track #9, “The Mass,” takes an environmental theme and applies a scratching, subliminal sound. “Routinely under global change, Sinking is accumulative,” they say. The song is about, as you can probably tell, the theory of global warming. The main reason why I enjoy this track so much is at about a minute and a half into it a wonderful synth melody begins that sounds something like a bagpipe. It’s pleasant – strange, I know, for a song that speaks of death to the world via floods. But they have a soothing effect – waiting for the waters to rise and take us along to someplace where we won’t have to worry about it anymore. Not so much neglect as acceptance – the “there’s nothing we can do, come swimming with me” acceptance. Surreal in a way. The vocals growl their story behind them, speaking of the doom many environmental theorists would have you believe. “Too far along to prevent, Slowed but not quite stopped.”

The last track of the CD opens with a toy-piano sound. The synthesizers that float behind it are Enigma-like. But the lyrics of the song are dark and moody – by the end they’ve given up. From “I think I hate what you are,” to “I think I love what you are” at the end of the song. The synth slides along, taking you with it. The vocals are awesome – the perfect tone, resonance and darkness speaks “Still I ask why are you shouting at me, Stop shouting at me!” Noxious Emotion, like the last track I discussed, has once again through their lyrics and sounds taken a darker subject and applied electronic finesse to it to make it beautiful. And that’s what we’re about, isn’t it? Seeing beauty in the things most people would shun?

I applaud their efforts. Noxious Emotion have taken two of the strongest forces in my life and packaged them together, bound with brilliance and buff-shined with darkness. Being a geek at heart, I love computers and all their technological uses – NE’s music is reflective of this through their mastery of computeresque sounds. If data streams had a sound, this would be it. I also love to dance – I just can’t pull up the pretentious-stand-at-the-bar façade no matter where I go. And NE have taken this sound of data and put it to a drum and percussion line that not only requests, but requires dancing.

Come and dance with the data…

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Mail: ADSR Musicwerks, 1106 E. Republican, Seattle, WA, 98102
Phone: (206) 320-TWEEK

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