Mari Chrome - Georgy #11811
Synthpop, Futurepop Mari Chrome sees the return of singer Marion Küchenmeister, former singer for the late 80's / early 90's German new wave act Invisible Limits. Teaming up with musician Kai Otte and producer John Fryer (you can Google for his credits, too many to list here), the stage is set for a quality comeback album, billed by Alfa-Matrix as "a fresh mixture of solid EBM, melodic trance synths, dark atmospheres and strong emotional vocals". And yes, I'm a sucker for all the above.

The opening song "Here I Am" does indeed deliver exactly what the label promo says it would - a solid, mid-tempo pop song with a raucous synth melody providing a well-executed contrast to Mari's vocals, layered in places to bring a real richness to the sound. "The Seeker" takes the tempo up a level, bringing the inevitable shuffle rhythm that appears at least once on every album in this genre, but it always welcome in moderation and here is no exception. The real stand-out track of the album is up next - "Toxic". I thought they'd stopped making futurepop, but all the elements are here - punchy beats, synth arps, flying strings and a big, anthemic chorus. Definitely the track of choice for club play.

Having won the audience over, they then curve-ball us with a tranced-up cover of The Cure's "A Forest". There's a lot of 80's standards just ripe for a modern-day dancefloor remake, but I've never thought Cure songs should really feature on this list. Surely they're nothing without the claustrophobic production and Robert Smith's anguish? Well, Mari Chrome do indeed drive a tank through the spirit of the original, but they do replace it with a surprisingly entertaining romp, all throbbing synths and poppy vox, thus disproving my theory that Cure songs are impossible to cover well.

They couldn't keep the energy level up for long, and "Without You" shows the first real signs of weakness. There may be a pretty chord progression and a memorable chorus, but the song as a whole struggles to maintain interest throughout, sounding cluttered in places. There then come a diversion to Mari's native German tongue on "Nie Wieder", but the language switch doesn't hide the songs otherwise pedestrian nature. Play some synth, sing some words, move on. Nothing to see (or rather hear) here. "Come Closer" as a more seductive, feel about it, with the breathy chorus working well.

It's certainly more distinctive than "Welcome Home", which just repeats everything we've heard so far, a melodic chorus the only vaguely notable feature in a track that otherwise bears all the hallmarks of an album filler. The album's second cover version follows, this time taking on "Blue Monday". Unlike "A Forest", you'd actually expect an uptempo take on New Order's signature tune to work, and hence it came as something of a surprise to hear a more sedate, piano-driven balladic remake. I'm not complaining - "Blue Monday" is one of the most overplayed songs (in any form) in our scene, second only to "Enjoy The Silence", so it's a welcome change to hear any band attempt to deliver a new twist on a overplayed standard like this.

Penultimate song "Running Wild" throws in a lot of energy, but I don't know what it's trying to achieve. "Come With Me" ends the album, and it's another so-so track, indicative of an album that started strongly but lost some of it's sparkle towards the end. Being Alfa Matrix, there is a limited edition version available with a remix disc (not included with the review copy), though looking up the tracklist reveals plenty of remixes of "Here I Am" and "Toxic" (the better songs), but also of "Running Wild" and "Come With Me" (which is more surprising). It's a pity no-one go a chance to rework "The Seeker", a prime candidate for a full-on, glowstick-waving, Kann-I-Zee-Yor-Handz anthem conversion.

It's still an album with several strong songs, and hence will be of interest to both fans of the genre as well as those of you who remember Invisible Limits in their original form. A final note about John Fryer's production. He's resisted the temptation to make a polished, airbrushed production, and hence the album has a slightly rougher feel to it, not unlike Ashbury Heights 'Take Cair Paramour'. This is a welcome move - whilst the album is unsubtle in places, it ultimately has more impact.
4
Brutal Resonance

Mari Chrome - Georgy #11811

7.0
"Good"
N/A
Electroracle
Spotify
Released 2012 by Alfa-Matrix
Mari Chrome sees the return of singer Marion Küchenmeister, former singer for the late 80's / early 90's German new wave act Invisible Limits. Teaming up with musician Kai Otte and producer John Fryer (you can Google for his credits, too many to list here), the stage is set for a quality comeback album, billed by Alfa-Matrix as "a fresh mixture of solid EBM, melodic trance synths, dark atmospheres and strong emotional vocals". And yes, I'm a sucker for all the above.

The opening song "Here I Am" does indeed deliver exactly what the label promo says it would - a solid, mid-tempo pop song with a raucous synth melody providing a well-executed contrast to Mari's vocals, layered in places to bring a real richness to the sound. "The Seeker" takes the tempo up a level, bringing the inevitable shuffle rhythm that appears at least once on every album in this genre, but it always welcome in moderation and here is no exception. The real stand-out track of the album is up next - "Toxic". I thought they'd stopped making futurepop, but all the elements are here - punchy beats, synth arps, flying strings and a big, anthemic chorus. Definitely the track of choice for club play.

Having won the audience over, they then curve-ball us with a tranced-up cover of The Cure's "A Forest". There's a lot of 80's standards just ripe for a modern-day dancefloor remake, but I've never thought Cure songs should really feature on this list. Surely they're nothing without the claustrophobic production and Robert Smith's anguish? Well, Mari Chrome do indeed drive a tank through the spirit of the original, but they do replace it with a surprisingly entertaining romp, all throbbing synths and poppy vox, thus disproving my theory that Cure songs are impossible to cover well.

They couldn't keep the energy level up for long, and "Without You" shows the first real signs of weakness. There may be a pretty chord progression and a memorable chorus, but the song as a whole struggles to maintain interest throughout, sounding cluttered in places. There then come a diversion to Mari's native German tongue on "Nie Wieder", but the language switch doesn't hide the songs otherwise pedestrian nature. Play some synth, sing some words, move on. Nothing to see (or rather hear) here. "Come Closer" as a more seductive, feel about it, with the breathy chorus working well.

It's certainly more distinctive than "Welcome Home", which just repeats everything we've heard so far, a melodic chorus the only vaguely notable feature in a track that otherwise bears all the hallmarks of an album filler. The album's second cover version follows, this time taking on "Blue Monday". Unlike "A Forest", you'd actually expect an uptempo take on New Order's signature tune to work, and hence it came as something of a surprise to hear a more sedate, piano-driven balladic remake. I'm not complaining - "Blue Monday" is one of the most overplayed songs (in any form) in our scene, second only to "Enjoy The Silence", so it's a welcome change to hear any band attempt to deliver a new twist on a overplayed standard like this.

Penultimate song "Running Wild" throws in a lot of energy, but I don't know what it's trying to achieve. "Come With Me" ends the album, and it's another so-so track, indicative of an album that started strongly but lost some of it's sparkle towards the end. Being Alfa Matrix, there is a limited edition version available with a remix disc (not included with the review copy), though looking up the tracklist reveals plenty of remixes of "Here I Am" and "Toxic" (the better songs), but also of "Running Wild" and "Come With Me" (which is more surprising). It's a pity no-one go a chance to rework "The Seeker", a prime candidate for a full-on, glowstick-waving, Kann-I-Zee-Yor-Handz anthem conversion.

It's still an album with several strong songs, and hence will be of interest to both fans of the genre as well as those of you who remember Invisible Limits in their original form. A final note about John Fryer's production. He's resisted the temptation to make a polished, airbrushed production, and hence the album has a slightly rougher feel to it, not unlike Ashbury Heights 'Take Cair Paramour'. This is a welcome move - whilst the album is unsubtle in places, it ultimately has more impact. Jun 09 2012

Jonny Hall

info@brutalresonance.com
Writer and contributor on Brutal Resonance

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