ALBUM ARMALYTE, THE SICK CITY RELEASE:
FEBRUARY 16, 2004 REVIEW: FEBRUARY 18, 2004
several years in the studio is generally not a good thing. Haloblack’s
third album “Throb.” has been four years in the making,
postponed time and time again, which felt more than a little worrying.
But the album proves to have been well worth the wait.
does seem like it may have shed skin a couple of times though, at least
considering that Bryan Black talked enthusiastically about bringing in
a trip hop sound when I met him in London in 2000. There’s not much
trip hop to be heard on the final album, although it at least shares an
atmosphere of sensual darkness with Tricky’s landmark debut “Maxinquaye”.
If there indeed was any indecisiveness about the sound, it doesn’t
show. “Throb.” is varied, but very coherent. It’s a
big leap forward from the old Haloblack sound – darker, slower,
murkier, but also even more in a realm entirely its own.
is actually strikingly inventive in places. The gritty electronics, fractured
beats and rattling funk meet to create a pulsating, spiky organism that
spits static, hiss and tales of alienation and depraved behaviour. Darkness,
drugs and decadence prevail. So much so that if it would have been done
with less skill and lyrical imagination, it would have gotten lost in
a swamp of introspective nonsense. But not so. “Junky”, for
instance, manages to intertwine sex and junk (to speak with William Burroughs’s
words), and make the marriage sound extremely silky and sexualized. Not
least due to Arianne Schreiber, whose voice, like in a couple of other
songs, complements Bryan Black’s whisper to great effect.
everything is slow though. “Feel” is a perverted dance track
of sorts, the lyric’s self loathing almost obscured by noisy nightmarish
razorsharp Fischerspooner-esque basslines that threatens to cut the song
in two twitching halves. In “Punch the Deck” Raymond Watts
snarls out the lyric of ennui and depression over a great, chunky electric
bass, massive metal guitars and messy electronics. “Love Méchante”
is on the other hand one of the few flaws on “Throb.”, mainly
ruined by its overly simple electroclash foundation.
“Throb.” is consistently good in its own pleasantly unpleasant
way. These dark corners of the mind are not too bad places to visit when
you’re in the company of Haloblack.