Recoil

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Bloodline

Recoil - Bloodline ©1992 Sire
1. Faith Healer
2. Electro Blues For Bukka White
3. The Defector
4. Edge To Life
5. Curse
6. Bloodline
7. Freeze

Bloodline isn't the sort of thing that is going to really get your own personal blood pumping too much. Featuring Depeche Mode man Alan Wilder with a host of guests including Moby and Diamanda Galas, Bloodline features a couple standout tracks surrounded by a bunch of lowrent electronic/dance pieces that essentially drop the property value of the entire album. The album also features yet another cover of "Faith Healer", which has seemingly been covered by everyone under the sun at one point or another (including what I consider the definitive version, which was done by Foetus on his live Male record). The culturally aware songs, "Curse" and "Electro Blues for Bukka White", which can be read as including rap and the blues, are probably the most tedious of the lot. Moby's vocals on "Curse" are rather flat and put in a place in the mix that takes the confrontation out of them. But towards the end of the album, things do pick up a bit. The title track features nice female vocals and a more stretched out composition with serene keyboards, floating guitar effects and a feeling that the music is taking you somewhere. "Freeze", which serves as the album's closer, is also quite interesting, with a fairly simple repetitive but building piano/keyboard piece. For the most part Bloodline is a relatively okay album that has its moments but it really isn't something that you'd want to sell blood to acquire.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 03/2000

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Unsound Methods

Recoil - Unsound Methods ©1997 Reprise
1. Incubus
2. Drifting
3. Luscious Apparatus
4. Stalker
5. Red River Cargo
6. Control Freak
7. Missing Piece
8. Last Breath
9. Shunt

Upon my first introduction to this project of former Depeche Mode member Alan Wilder, I was instantly intrigued and drawn into his odd world of music. Unlike the depressed mood of his former band, Recoil is much more experimental and adventurous, recalling the likes of newer Golden Palominos, among others. As with the Golden Palominos, Unsound Methods is the result of collaborations between Wilder and other musicians. The outcome is consistent and thoroughly enjoyable. Of all the songs, "Control Freak" and "Luscious Apparatus" are easily the best, injecting some intense narratives from Maggie Estep. "Luscious Apparatus" is both harrowing and hilarious and hopefully intentionally so. "Control Freak" utilizes a great sense of song climax with the music building in conjunction with the narration. Other songs use a lot of techno/electronic rhythms with a sense of largescale orchestration. Recoil covers a lot of territory on the album and the sense of immensity is prevelant throughout. This is the sort of album that you can put on, close your eyes and escape to other worlds while listening. Very recommended and very deep.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 02/2000

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Liquid

Recoil - Liquid ©2000 Mute
1. Black Box (Pt. 1)
2. Want
3. Jezebel
4. Breath Control
5. Last Call For Liquid Courage
6. Strange Hours
7. Vertigen
8. Supreme
9. Chrome
10. Black Box (Pt. 2)

After being mildly impressed with a good percentage of Bloodline and absolutely loving Unsound Methods, I had a great deal of hope for this new Year 2000 release from Recoil. Unfortunately those expecations for what should be a definitive Recoil album have not been met. While not exactly awful, Liquid has quite a few tracks that do nothing but rub me the wrong way and the others tend to remind me of other certain bands.

In my review of Unsound Methods, I mentioned a similiarity to newer Golden Palominos (specifically, Dead Inside). Lo and behold, Recoil went out and recruited Nicole Blackman, whose texts made Dead Inside an absolutely stunning album, to contribute to a few of the tracks here. Her narrations are, as expected, somewhat disturbing (but in a good way). However, given that Anton Fier's musical soundscapes perfectly matched subject matter and voice on Dead Inside, her inclusion here makes Recoil come across as the Golden Palominos Jr. On other tracks, some of the vocal contributions are simply irritating, such as the hip-hoppy treatment of "Jezebel". This song is the type that gets the instant skip on the CD player. Samantha Coerbell's vocals on "Last Call for Liquid Courage" are grating to say the least, while the big band horn samples remind of a weaker and not so nearly confrontational Steroid Maximus. The unfortunate truth of the album is that none of the songs here, even the better ones, quite have that same sense of wonder as Unsound Methods. While I'm always happy to see more of Nicole Blackman's work, her talents seem better suited for Anton Fier's musical interpretation. Liquid does nothing more than evaporate before one's ears.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 04/2000

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subHuman

Recoil - subHuman ©2007 Mute
1. Prey
2. Allelujah
3. 5000 Years
4. The Killing Ground
5. Intruders
6. 99 to Life
7. Backslider

It took nearly seven years for Recoil to resurface after the somewhat lackluster Liquid, but as it turns out, the wait was worth it. Recoil founder Alan Wilder took his time in putting together another release, but perhaps the time was well spent constructing a stronger set of songs. subHuman features contributions from New Orleans' Joe Richardson (though some sources claim he's from Texas...perhaps a misplaced Katrina victim?), who actually provides real blues influence into the darkwave ambience of Recoil. The resulting album is a much better realized outing than Liquid, which seemed like it wanted to be the successor to the Golden Palominos' Dead Inside.

Perhaps the length of time between albums gave Wilder plenty of material, as these songs are all rather lengthy. Most hover well above eight minutes in duration, although they rarely overstay their welcome. subHuman is very much an offering of darkwave blues with Richardson's murky vocals and swamp guitar playing matches up well with the general Recoil sound. Granted, the blues, when taken away from trendy neighborhood bar bands, is already a dark genre of music, but it's surprising that more musicans from a gothic background haven't picked up on that. Recoil attempted this sort of melding on Bloodline to rather mixed results, but obviously time and seasoning has helped Wilder better grasp his musical vision.

Full of well constructed dynamics and moody atmospherics, subHuman is a satisfying return for Recoil.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 12/2009

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