ARTIST: The Weathermen
It's hard to judge whether or not The Weathermen are toying with us by calling this compilation their "last communique." For one thing, they've been actively recording new material as recently as this year. More importantly, they're notoriously sarcastic and were originally founded as a joke, so it's probably not such a good idea to ever take them all that seriously. In any case, this is a marvellous retrospective of their first 21 years, starting with the grating yet funky EBM of their early career and highlighting their development into a slicker, but no less sardonic, dark techno act. The Weathermen are based out of Belgium, and it shows, especially in their earliest material, which recalls Front 242 in its dirty dance floor appeal, its twanging synthesizers, and its subversion of melody, especially on "Mud (I Would)," which takes seemingly cheerful horn loops, then speeds them up to the point where they're less of a party than an assault on the nerves. "Don't Drink and Drive" sees the band at their most hilarious; delivered over deceptively pretty strings, it's a spoken-word piece on the evils of drinking and driving that makes the act sound more like the ultimate extreme sport than a supreme act of social irresponsibility. "Punishment Park" adds humanity to the mechanical clanks of the earlier material with a sexy reggae groove, and "Timebomb Benny" combines funky drum machines with the jaded attitude and deadpan vocals of early Chemlab. More accessible but still full of sly commentary, the band's newer material features more of a techno sensibility, the beats and basslines merging with the more industrial elements instead of warring with them. "Transit" layers a collage of samples over a brassy disco groove, for example, and the gravelly vocals of "I'm Tight" give the song an appealingly human vibe that makes it easier to appreciate than some of The Weathermen's colder, more caustic commentaries. Listen to this CD straight through, and you can only hope there are more communiques to come; The Weathermen are clearly improving with age, and they were a pretty great band to start with.
Get the latest reports from The Weathermen at www.theweathermen.net.
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