on 4 April 2010
Nitzer Ebb were great fun back in the day with their self defining British electro-industrial sound. Either live or sneeking into a club play list here and there, Nitzer Ebb would induce a frenzied dance from not only those who knew who they were.
In 1991 NE produced "Ebbhead" which was a great rounded album, moving on from the industrial dance anthems to add a set of deeper songs with great hooks. Unfortunately the well documented deterioration in the working relationship between Bon Harris and Doug McCarthy produced a shocker in the 1995 "Big Hit". They then just fizzled out.
After a kiss and make up, a greatest hits jaunt occurred in 2006, but blink and you missed it.
Amazingly, after all this time, Nitzer Ebb have tapped into the years of pent up creativity and produced a cracking album in "Industrial Complex" which is by far their best work. Bon Harris's soundscapes and new drummer Jason Payne have produced some thumping tunes such as "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang", "Payroll" and "Down on your Knees", but a maturity in the song writing of Doug McCarthy shines through offering a fully rounded package. Songs such as "Going Away" and "I am Undone" demonstrate an emotive side to Nitzer Ebb that they have only toyed with in the past.
If you are lucky enough to even find out that Nitzer Ebb have new material out, do not hesitate to buy this CD. It is proof that there is some great music out there still, you just have to root around for it sometimes.
First things first, there are multiple editions of this record : be sure if it is the 1 disc or the 2 disc version you want, and check the details carefully.
15 years is a long time for anyone.
Nitzer Ebb were never a big deal then ; always shimmering at the edges of the London Astoria, singles that appeared for two minutes on The Chart Show, t-shirts worn by those `In The Know', a moderate selling band that were an edgier, harder, furious Depeche Mode. After 2006's blink-and-you'll-miss-it tour, revitalised by a `Greatest Hits' where no song ever troubled the top Forty, The Ebb seemed doomed to be a band that could make a brilliant new record, if they could be bothered.
And here it is. In fifteen years, not much has changed for the band. Many bands with long pasts and reputations, large or small, as innovators often find themselves trapped in a hole and endlessly trying to remain relevant but with no focus, nothing to say, and no real reason for continued existence apart from money and habit - or habits.
Not so here. "Industrial Complex" is as good an album as anything The Ebb made in their first flush ; as good as "Showtime" or "Ebbhead". This sentence will mean nothing to you unless you know what they sound like. The musical currency of the band is an abrasive Mode : luxurious, dense orchestration and timeless, sordid production crossbred with squelchy, influential distorted electronics and breathless, Ramones-paced rhythms. It sounds like being strapped to a rollercoaster in Imax. Bon Harris - last seen doing production work for Billy Corgan and The Smashing Pumpkins - creates these busy, oppressive landscapes which are then shaped by Doug McCarthy's distinctive vocals and melodies. The lessons of the past are kept here : aside from a fifteen year gap, "Industrial Complex" is the next logical step in the bands artistic progression : "Once You Say", "Down On Your Knees", "kiss Kiss Bang Bang" - these are songs that should be ranked in the canon next to The Ebb's best work. And, for the sly, the Alan Wilder version of "I Am Undone" which opens the second disc is, by any standard, the single most compelling and enthralling either Wilder or The Ebb have released in a decade.
A quantum leap from the last album - the confused "Big Hit" - and in the rare apex of the bands finest echelon and realisation of their potential of "Ebbhead", "Industrial Complex" is near enough the best Nitzer Ebb album yet. Which, considering the band are long past their first flush of youth, is both a surprise and a stunning achievement. If you like The Ebb, get this : have your doubts flushed away.
on 26 April 2010
I'm just glad these lads are still around. Industrial Complex picks up where Nitzer Ebb left off in the 1990s. The Fixmer/McCarthy collaboration also influences the direction of this new album. I hope to see more of this in the future, and hopefully a bit more accessible.
If you're new to Nitzer Ebb, this is not a bad place to start. Their back catalog of full lengths is much easier to find. Back in the day, Nitzer Ebb followed right behind Front 242 in EBM genre and were a highly regarded Industrial music act. Their influence is heard in electronic musicians like New York's Adam X or France's Terence Fixmer (see also the above mentioned collaboration with NE's front man) and the Hacker, or the French/US duo Motor (the last three all contributed remixes on Body Re-Works).
If you're a fan of electronic music and would like to hear something with a harder edge, Nitzer Ebb will deliver. Industrial Complex will give you a good idea of what the rest of the catalog is like.
If you have no idea what I'm talking about, find another selection by another artist or be adventurous and try this.
on 5 November 2010
The other reviews here have covered most of it, I just want to add more weight and another review to an album that should get more attention. This album takes the best of their body of work and builds sparingly upon it. I use the word "sparingly" to indicate that they haven't gone over the top but have retained their stripped back approach. There are elements here from all their previous albums but all the songs sound fresh and different enough to be their own things. You only need to hear the first 10 seconds of the opening track, Promises, to know that you are onto a winner, it's classic Nitzer Ebb. From there the album provides more variety than anything they have done previously but it all hangs together gloriously. Songs like Payroll and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang are probably the most full-on things they have done, while I Am Undone and Going Away are at the other end of the spectrum but still work really well. This album is definitely a must-have for anyone into EBM.