ARTIST: The Plastic Noise Experience
ALBUM: Reiz und Reaktion
LABEL: Alfa Matrix
REVIEWER: Matthew J.
His seventh album sees The Plastic Noise Experience's Claus Kruse returning to the roots of EBM and electro; there are no bells and whistles here, no trance sequences, no over-dramatized synthpop vocals, and no extended intros. It's roots music for the robot set, just enough programmed rhythms, pulsing electronic bass and understated vocals to keep the masses on their feet. It's so consistently minimalist, in fact, that a lot of casual fans might simply write this album off as repetitive, but there's a beauty in Kruse's stripped down compositions that really emphasizes the nature of electronic music for its own sake. Listen closely, and you can hear the subtle shifts, the differences between the cold keyboard textures of "Schlaflos" and the sharper buzzing effects of "Vacuum," the primal thrust of "Zu Nah" and the comparatively delicate bouncing melodies of "Immer Mehr." These subtle differences are most apparent in Kruse's vocals, both in terms of production and delivery. Simply by adding a hint of vocoder, Kruse gives "Besessen" a completely different feel than the reverb-drenched echoes of "Ich Bin Nicht Du," and given that most of his vocals are delivered in a dry but not completely clinical German, a little bit of extra emotion gives his singing on "Nach Unten" an intimacy far greater than the sum of its parts. It's clear that Kruse is a long-time EBM fan making music for people who are just as enthusiastic about the genre as he is, and that's especially evident on this CD's five bonus remixes. Legends in their own right, Leaether Strip's Claus Larsen and Suicide Commando's Johann Van Roy each contribute a mix of "Zu Nah" that retains the original's minimalist impact while adding a hint of their own signature sounds, old-school and sparse in Larsen's case, dark and heavy in Van Roy's. It's Technoir's mix of "Immer Mehr," though, that makes the most interesting divergence from the original material; laced with tinkly bell tones, it takes the delicate precision of the original and imbues it with an almost airy quality that seems inimical to EBM's usual focus on beats and bass but nonetheless manages to be one of this album's most captivating tracks. While The Plastic Noise Experience's purist focus on simple rhythms and unadorned production might not immediately grab the attention of casual listeners more used to the more theatrical appeal of groups like VNV Nation and Combichrist, this is a must-have for long-time electro fans, a reminder of EBM's real core.
Visit www.plasticnoise.de for more information about this release.
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