French synthpop trio Celluloide first released this collection as a free online EP, but were pleased enough with the results to expand it into a full-length album. A tribute to the band's own influences and favorites from the '80s synthpop, New Wave, and goth scenes, it's remarkable because although each cover is imbued with Celluloide's characteristic sound, overloaded with layers of pulsing beeps and driven by lead singer Darkleti's detached vocals, the group manages to perfectly preserve the original spirit of each composition. Perhaps most remarkable is their cover of The Sisters of Mercy classic "Alice," the throbbing bass guitar replaced by analog synthesizer and Andrew Eldritch's subsonic baritone replaced by Darkleti's deadpan soprano, but the song's complex emotional mixture of cynicism, hope, and empathy still come right through. Depeche Mode's "Somebody" likewise retains the original's sense of dreamy longing, despite being turned into high-BPM dance number, and Darkleti's impassivity is perfect for the irony of Siouxsie and the Banshees' "Happy House," with programmers Member U-0176 and Patryck Holdwem using primitive analog arpeggios to provide the song with its signature sense of fun in spite of itself. A cover of Camouflage's "Love Is a Shield" is faithful stylistically as well as thematically, and also makes for one of the album's most stunningly pretty offerings, Darkleti's vocals tracked in multiple layers, giving the song a rich melancholy. Dead Can Dance's "In Power We Entrust the Love Advocated," on the other hand, is so completely different, apart from its vague sense of wistfulness, that all but the most obsessive Dead Can Dance fans will be hard-pressed to even recognize it right away, although it still makes for a surprisingly lovely synthpop tune. An unlikely collection of covers, this CD reveals a versatility to Celluloide that fans of the group's original material might not be aware of; they've managed to make this diverse collection of songs uniquely and undeniably their own, without dimming the sparks of originality behind them.
Visit Celluloide at www.celluloide.online.fr.
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