Music Reviews

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Artist: Noir
Title: Darkly Near
Format: CD
Label: Metropolis Records (@)
Distributor: Metropolis Mail-order
Rated: *****
Athan Maroulis as being vocalist of Spahn Ranch ' well, that has been a big and prominent name of the late 90ies. Who can not remember those classic tunes like 'Locusts' or 'Heretic's Fork', which have made their way into the history books of dancefloor classics? Spahn Ranch albums like 'The Coiled One' and mostly 'Architecture Beta' have been genre-bending and Athan and his colleagues may have been a bit ahead of their times. While things have slowed down around him and Spahn Ranch after 2001, he now returns into the Electronica music genre with his new established project Noir. A first debut single out this all new album has been already released with 'My Dear' ' I must admit, that this one hasn't impressed me that much. It was a relative unspectacular produced Synth-/Electropop tune which missed catchiness to keep in the ears of the audience, although prominent remix contributors like Tom Shear's Assemblage 23 and/or Ego Likeness did a good job to hi-jack this tune a bit.
The same feelings I had after consuming the first 4 tracks of this new album. 'My Dear' starts this album and I still think that this track is one of Athan's weakest so far. Also his cover of The Cure's classic 'A Forrest', also available on the teaser single release, has already been covered with much more devotion before ' just remember K-Bereit's version on Machinery for instance. I was about to rate this album as a simple, mediocre Electropop-album, which only stands the contest because of Athan still awesome sounding vocals. Then comes track 5, 'The Voyeurs', and moreover track 6, 'The Tragics', which made me to correct this rating. Maybe it is because Athan's voice has its best moments with slow, ballad-like tunes, which offer tendencies to explore Ambient-like soundscapes. Maybe these both ones represent the best Athan's Dark Goth-side of his Black Tape For A Blue Girl membership? Back on the straighter, more Electropop-compatible side of the mirror, also 'Timephase' is well-balanced and features some nice EBM-related percussion sets and some interesting effects on Athan's voice. With a strange and bizarre sounding Downtempo-track entitled 'In Every Dream Home A Heartache' this album ends all in all satisfying after 10 tracks. As for a final result, it needs to be said, that these aren't the days for innovation. Spahn Ranch is a part of the history and remains alive and kicking in our minds ' here you'll get the voice on returning and it offers some beautiful moments.



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