Music Reviews

Artist: The M.E.M.O.R.Y. Lab (@)
Title: Modern Expressing Machine of Revolutionary Youth
Format: CD
Label: D-Trash Records (@)
Distributor: D-Trash Records
Rated: *****
Getting a new batch of CDs to review is always a treat, and gives me a bit of a tingle of anticipation, as well as trepidation for what delights and horrors await my thirsty ears. Thumbing through the pile, I saw some really cool and bizarre stuff, but no matter how tempted I was to take the easy way out and stay in my comfort zone, I knew I had to review this one first.

A bit of background on this CD- it is a collaborative project of Marc Urselli (yeah, OUR Marc Urselli) and Nicola "The Old Nick" Curri of 90’s era black metal band, Funeral Oration. Curri went on to become an art restorer, set designer and artist. Now all I really knew about Marc up until this time is that he’s my contact at Chain D.L.K. (and also a fine reviewer) and every once in a while he call me up and asks me if I’m ready for more CDs to review. My shock and awe began when I discovered he’s a well-known audio engineer and remixer, and has several Grammy Awards under his belt for doing just that. (Somehow Grammys and Chain D.L.K. just seem like opposite ends of the musical spectrum.)

Well, Grammys don’t necessarily give you cred in the Industrial music world, but those engineering and production skills come in handy when you want to put out a great album, and this is one GREAT album, all things considered. I’m not saying that because of my Chain D.L.K. connection with Marc, I’m saying that just because IT IS. The album was actually conceived (and mostly executed) nearly 15 years ago, but it has the power and presence to stand up to anything in the Industrial music realm today. I wondered why I never heard of M.E.M.O.R.Y. Lab back then, and apparently it was because they only made it on to a few compilations and released a very limited cassette demo.

M.E.M.O.R.Y. Lab is an acronym for Modern Expressing Machine of Revolutionary Youth, something that summarized their philosophy of music back in Southern Italy in mid-90’s. Other members of M.E.M.O.R.Y. Lab included bass player Fabrizio Giannese and Dario Campeggio, but it’s Marc and Nick that are really responsible for this album. M.E.M.O.R.Y. Lab broke up in 1999 when Marc moved to New York to pursue an audio engineering career. The album might never have seen the light of day if Marc didn’t rescue the original recordings from a dusty Italian basement and digitally re-master them.

So, what about the music on the album? Well, this is hard as titanium Industrial, something much tougher than Reznor and his Nails of Nine ever dreamed of. Urselli cites M.E.M.O.R.Y. Lab’s influences of a whole range of groups- Die Krupps, Young Gods, NIN, Pantera, Sepultura, Faith No More, Einsturzende Neubaten, Front Line Assembly, Skinny Puppy, Ministry, Fear Factory, Legendary Pink Dots, Current 93, Das Ich, Psychic TV, Sigillum S, Christian Death, Sisters of Mercy, Pink Floyd, etc., etc. and it shows. Some more than others. The first thing that impressed me about this album is the drum programming. Not your standard stuff here. It is varied and often processed to perfection; complex rhythms (Front Line Assembly/Skinny Puppy style), loops, odd Neubaten-ish percussion, manic drumming, you name it. The synth and sampling work is very good too; somewhat old school’ because that was THE school n the 90’s when this was done.

Nick has an interesting vocal style, multifaceted and often manic. When he’s not ranting and raving Manson style (Charles, not Marilyn) which he often is, he’s nearly whispering David Tibet/Edward Ka-Spel gibberings in the quieter passages. And there are a number of them to break up the sturm und drang, which is a very good thing. Actually, there are a whole lot of influences at work here; it is more an amalgam of everything these guys absorbed and put into one sonic H-Bomb of a package guaranteed to blow your mind. It will definitely take you more than one listening to absorb it all, and it has a high replayabilty factor. Even the one track I wasn’t wild about at first, "Another Nail into the Cross," with its Christian Death martyr overtones seemed better the second time around. Nick reminded me a bit of the late mad magician Geoffrey Crozier. Few know of Crozier now (Google him, watch his YouTube video, and you’ll get the gist), but back in the late 70’s he was somewhat of a legend amongst the New York City underground music scene. I had the pleasure of experiencing his demented performances first-hand, and I tell you there is something of his energy and angst in Nick’s vocal on this CD. I think you need a certain kind of nutter on vocals to make this kind music work and leave the pack behind.

Modern Expressing Machine of Revolutionary Youth’ is a very strong effort which might have become a classic if it was released back in the day, but with the re-mastering, I’m sure it’s much better now than it than it might have been then. As with a lot of Industrial music then, there are sampled dialogue passages and sampled hard guitar, but they’re used sparing – no overkill. Not a lot of melodic content, but real Industrial music doesn’t need a lot of melodic content. If your complaint about so many Industrial’ bands today is their music is geared more to club play and the dance floor, then this is definitely for you. There is so much meat on the bones here, and nothing gets stale. Nick’s vocals and Marc’s synth/programming/production work hand-in-glove together. A perfect fit. Who cares if sounds a bit old school in places. Do you still listen to Hard Wired’, Land of Rape and Honey’, Too Dark Park’, Tabula Rasa or Embryodead’ and believe they’re brilliant albums? Then M.E.M.O.R.Y. Lab is for you. The only other thing I can say is, it’s about fucking time.

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