Music Reviews

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Artist: Neon Rain (@)
Title: Of The Dead
Format: 3 x CD (triple CD)
Label: Steelwork Maschine (@)
Rated: *****
French Industrial/Noise/Experimental project Neon Rain is Serge Usson (who also co-founded the Industrial/Post-Industrial Steelwork Maschine label with Kris G., aka Christophe Gales of Westwind) and David Delwiche (on this album) of Hyperbarich Yperite Therapy Chamber and The Groovie Goolies (both Industrial Noise projects, I think). Usson has also been involved with a number of other groups ' Acarus Scopt, Ligne Claire, Fin De Siècle, Storm of Capricorn (his neoclassical martial folk project), and likely others I am unaware of. Neon Rain came into being in 1998 with the release of a self-produced tape of Serge's recordings from 1992-1997, and has released a few CDs under the Neon Rain moniker since then, perhaps the most recent work prior to this triple-album being the double-disc 'We Are Meat/The Vultures' in 2008. 'Of The Dead' is a triple-disc set, a most ambitious undertaking dedicated to George A. Romero's first zombie movie trilogy ' 'Night Of The Living Dead,' 'Dawn Of The Dead,' and 'Day Of The Dead'. Consequently the discs are titled 'A Night,' 'A Dawn,' and 'A Day.'

I have to say that when I opened the CD package, I wasn't quite prepared for THREE CDs to review. (I don't usually bother with the one-sheet that would have clued me in to it being a triple disc until I'm ready to do the review.) So obviously this is a lot to take in. My impressions of the first disc, 'A Night' is of noisy old-school electronics intersperesed with movie dialogue samples (from NOTLD, I presume)>Lots of oscillators going wild, some spooky themes. Actually, the disc opens up with perhaps uncharacteristic stately piano chords but descends into weird world midway through the piece. By the end of the first track it turns industrial. I'm not even going to attempt to say how well it all relates to Romero's movie; been a long time since I've seen it and no real desire to watch it again for this review. Never saw the other two movies, so I can only relate how the CDs sound as electronic-industrial noise. Impression of the first disc was 'pretty interesting and atmospheric in places'.

'A Dawn' begins with movie dialogue samples morphing into droning background and noise, then higher pitched drone and various shades of gray background noises, settling into a morose sort of ambience. For the most part it is more placid than the first disc, although a bit weirder in a way. Thing's get quite strange on track 5, 'Entertain! Now!' which begins with something like a marching band sample and morphs into gothic calliope music. The rest of the disc is industrial noise electronics atmospherics, with the noisiest passages being on the final track. I suppose you gotta love the cliché movie music ending though.

'A Day' may be the most (conventionally) musical of the three, presenting a number of brief electronic compositions with rhythm tracks, interspersed with movie dialogue samples backed by a modulated drone. It doesn't get very experimental until track 7 ('Dr Logan & Major Cooper'), but that's not for long. Some of these ditties remind me of the kind of minimal synth & drum machine experiments I was doing in the 80's before I discovered really dark music. They're okay in a very retro kind of way but seem out of place for zombie movie music. Things get dark and noisy again for a while on track 11 ('Here They Come') but the old-school synth & drum machine creeps back in and it's an atmosphere killer. (Reminded me a bit of SA42 without the vocals.) Overall, this was the least appealing of the 3 discs, but some might like it because it's the most accessible.

While not a landmark achievement, 'Of The Dead' has its moments, with a few really creepy bits, and moments to satisfy electronic noise junkies, and maybe even fans of Romero's zombie flicks. (There's plenty of movie dialogue passages.) The album sounds like it was recorded a long time ago though, even if it wasn't. Maybe if it was, it would be a retro classic. For those who can't get enough, there is also another disc (which I didn't get) titled 'More Of The Dead' dealing with Romero's second zombie trilogy. It's supposed to be quite different, more in a lo-fi noise-folk style.



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