Wednesday, 17th October 2018. 1:52:05am ET
Reviews CD Reviews Gothic Radio Jesus- Reaper in the Garden


ARTIST: Radio Jesus

ALBUM: Reaper in the Garden

LABEL: Pepper's Ghost

REVIEWER: Matthew J.

DATE: 2-25-09

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Early Attrition with a dash of Dead Can Dance, the debut album from Radio Jesus combines the electronic minimalism of early darkwave and industrial with a hint of Medieval exoticism. Essentially the solo project of programmer, producer and vocalist R. Henry, Radio Jesus approaches synthpop at times, especially on "Never Mind," which features falsetto vocals that owe more to classic soul music and R&B than to Depeche Mode, but the gloomy atmospheres and avant-garde approach to rhythm and arrangements keep the album well within contemplative listening territory. You won't be hearing "Stand Back" in the clubs any time soon despite its hints of funk, and while the brooding "My Gypsy Drone" uses sampled finger-snaps, the effect seems to be a nod toward electro influences rather than a serious attempt at breaking into the dance scene. Though Henry's songs rest on a foundation of analog electronics, there's a definite though understated element of dark world music that makes for some of this album's most intriguing tracks. "Them Walls" starts off with a muted drum machine and simple synth sequence, but hammered dulcimer and gong sequences set the piece apart, evoking a sense of the unfamiliar that borrows from folk music traditions but remains geographically and even temporally indistinct. Similarly, the tribal percussion and dulcimer flourishes on "The Coldest Flame" inject the bleak electronics with a sense of timeless melancholy. Henry's work isn't without its flaws, and a little more variety in terms of arrangements and instrument choices would have helped this album hold up a little better under repeat listenings, but it's a promising debut, recalling the tightrope walk between avant-garde and pop pioneered by such early gothic and synthpop artists as Soft Cell, Fad Gadget, and Attrition.

Visit Radio Jesus online at www.radiojesusmusic.com.


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