Goteki returns to “Destroy Your Stereo” with their third full length album, Sante Muerte. This album is also the first release of the band since their reformation in 2008. In 2002, Goteki emerged from the ashes of Sneaky Bat Machine and took the EBM and Synthpop music scene by storm with their O/S album featuring songs such as Geisha Deconstruct and Ninja Girl. The band broke up in 2006, when founder Tregenza's frustration with the stagnation within the European EBM scene. Taking a few years off and testing out some new ideas with bassist Ali Star, Tregenza reformed Goteki in 2008. After refining their sound over the past 2 years, Goteki presents Santa Muerte. 14 songs that tell the tragic story of a Las Vegas stripper, that somehow also mirror Goteki's own struggle to find a voice in a world they had grown increasingly weary of.
Santa Muerte returns back to the lighter pop style of their debut album O/S, but while O/S had a rough and obviously digital sound to it, Santa Muerte feels more organic and polished. There are still “8-bit” synthesizers (as this reviewer refers to them) which makes it sound like some video game background track is playing but this element is balanced out with piano, creatively layered vocals, and very dense soundscapes on some of the songs like "Dying in the Desert" or "The Science of Thunderstorms". Some songs like "Take Me to Your Lover" become evocative of bands like Pigface or Big Audio Dynamite where its a slow but catchy dance track, but then the beat vanishes and the synths are replaced with Tregenza singing with no backing, then adds a piano track and the beat returns. The song takes three different directions. In this particular case it worked well considering the conflicted emotions being conveyed in the lyrics.
This particular reviewer is always a sucker for an album that has a strong narrative, especially one that is executed well, which Goteki does expertly on this album. Whether its through the eyes of a Las Vegas stripper or (as this reviewer imagined) some confused and lost wanderer in the desert strip, the listener is taken along for the ride. They experience the narrator's highs on fast paced dance tracks like "Take Me to Your Lover" or "Silent War", and then are brought down to the lows on Atlantic Pacific or Avenida Revolucion. And these moods change quickly. Just as "Dying in the Desert" closes on its broken piano keys, Reverse Engineer my Heart spins up fast with a bouncy dance beat and perky synths. No time to reflect on that empty desert, its now time to dance. And as the album closes on the quiet and solemn Avenida Revolucion and our protagonist closes their eyes for what may be the final time, Freebird plays. Yep. Freebird. A very inventive and synthy version of Freebird which is amazingly good, however does begin to lose the listener's attention when the song hits it's legendary guitar solo, which doesn't execute so well with synthesizers.
Its obvious that Goteki plotted their return very carefully, and Tregenza's time spent reflecting on his musical motives, and experiences has paid off. Goteki has returned stronger than ever with an album that no tone delivers a strong narrative, and an intelligent electronic musical experience but one that is also ripe with dance floor fillers. Santa Muerte is proof positive that patience and hard work will create something great. Here's hoping that they do not make fans wait 5 years between releases again though.
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