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music review:

Closet Stiffs ::: "Non-Violent Electronica"


Yay, a Canberra electro-pop band! Closet Stiffs have been around for about a year now, and finally I've heard them. This impressive debut 6-track Cd suggests some great things to come. Musically, it strikes me as a cross between 90s electro-rock such as Def FX, early 80s new romantic synth-pop such as the Human League, the late-80s stark industrial of groups such as early Front Line Assembly and Noise Unit and the zany rock-fusion oddities of groups like Mr. Bungle. The interchanging vocals of Mark and Lady Cadaver work really well. Mark's vocals sound a bit like an Australian version of the guy from the Human League; new romantic with a touch of occasionallly estranged gothic-like crooning. While Lady Cadaver impresses with her style which could most closely be compared to Fiona Horne of Def FX. (Incidentally, Lady Cadaver has also contributed vocals on several EYE and aya tracks).

"Take it", the opening track, features croons, sing-a-long chorusses, chugging & squealing guitars and trip-hop beats. "Pole", which I assume is named after the featured Korg M1 sound of that name, is a hypnotic and vocally-minimalist piece while "Party Favourites" has a demented Mr. Bungle carnival-like feel with it's schizo-vocals and wild guitars (though there's an annoying synth tambourine noise which could have been jettisoned to improve the track.) "Black & Gold" is another piece that reminds greatly of early 80s synth-pop, though it has a harder mechanical industrial beat than you ever got back then. The chorus really kicks. "Guff" with it's doofy beat and vocal lines reminds me a lot of Def FX. I like the way the music breathes and journeys in between vocals parts. "Modern Animal" closes the CD with it's steady chugging rhythms. I won't tell you that there's a mystery track at the end of the CD, as that would ruin the surprise!

Overall this is an impressive debut album. The sound processing and/or choice of some synth and drum machine sounds could be improved - but that's all to do with having the money to buy the gear do it. Making electronic music is an expensive addiction! I guess I've heard some of those Korg M1 sounds a few too many times too... it was my first synth. Nevertheless, the overall production is of a high-quality with a raw lively sound which I frankly find refreshing. It has a human quality that purely programmed music lacks. The more I listen, the better it gets - lots of nifty hooks. And I am listening to this quite a bit. May Closet Stiffs survive the upcoming relocation of some of their members to other cities and move on to greater things which they are destined to do.

$10 from:

1 Searl Pl. Holt ACT 2615 Australia. E-mail: [email protected]

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