Wednesday, 18th October 2017. 10:40:13am ET
Reviews CD Reviews Gothic Action Directe- Counterculture


Artist: Action Directe
CD Title: Counterculture
Label: Oktober Productions
Reviewer: Matthew Johnson
Date: 4/16/06

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There's nothing too groundbreaking about combining synthesizers and punk. Perhaps the most obvious example is Atari Teenage Riot's digital hardcore sound, but former Generation X guitarist Tony James was doing basically the same thing two decades ago when he formed Sigue Sigue Sputnik. What makes Action Directe's take on it interesting is that they don't go the usual route of getting a bunch of electronic gear and then using it to bang out hardcore tunes. Instead, the self-proclaimed "yob goths" take the more melodic sound of synthpop and direct it towards punk rock politics instead of the usual romance and melancholy. The result is, curiously enough, something that sounds like a low-fi love child of VNV Nation and the Clash. The songs on this album are undeniably danceable, with the speedy minimalism of "Compatriot Games" and perky electronics of "Oktober" being almost reminiscent of electroclash, only less vapid. Still, the bouncy side of the music seems entirely secondary to its message, and singer Joel Heyes' ragged vocals make it clear that he's less interested in staying on-key than in conveying the band's leftist politics. It's an interesting effect, with the raspy aggression and take-no-prisoners attitude contrasting surprisingly well with the lush, bittersweet keyboards of "Zealots" and "Plastic Fatherland." Although the songs are built around drum machines and synthesizers, there's certainly none of the usual fear of guitar in evidence, and some of the best songs on the album feature the instrument in starring roles. "Dissidenti," for example, uses a bit of classic death rock distortion, while the excellent "Europe Is My Homeland" is an unlikely but deeply affecting blend of folk-punk strums and background synths. While their lyrical focus is on winning minds to their politics, Action Directe's music is an original blend of retro influences that should go a long way towards winning ears, as well.

Visit www.actiondirecte.co.uk for more information.


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