Faithless EP ( Sonic-X)
~reviewed by Uncle Nemesis
It's been a long time coming, but here it is: the new EP from Revolution By Night. This release has already notched up a placing in the Deutsche Alternative Chart - number 14, if I recall correctly. That's an achievement not to be sneezed at, especially given that RBN are the first UK underground scene band to break into the DAC since the likes of VNV Nation and Mesh stuck their feet in the door a few years back. Of course, it probably helps that RBN are on a German label, and the band have been promoted heavily in the Germany, but that just amounts to good strategy. These days, given the fact that our home-territory scene is relatively small and frustratingly insular, it makes a lot of sense for UK bands to point themselves in the direction of the real action.
You get nine tracks. Five mixes of 'Faithless', a couple of newies, and two 'archive tracks' - reworked versions of a couple of old songs from RBN's murky past. It's the title track which grabs the attention, though: a slinky synth number which, although it certainly has dance floor potential, is clearly a *song* first and foremost, rather than simply club track. The vocals, surrounded by a lush rainforest of layered synth lines, drawl lazily against the beat in an almost world-weary tone: 'You know there's always something...unexpected'. The rhythm itself is subtly danceable, rather than a forceful four-on-the-floor club beat, and the whole thing has an individuality which is less common than it should be in these troubled times.
And so to the remixes. Tom Shear of Assemblage 23 remakes the track in a somewhat more conventional hands-in-the-air club-anthem style, bringing in a solidly dance-oriented bom-thwack-bom-thwack beat and generally EBM-ing the whole thing up. To my ears, it's not entirely successful - the vocals sit rather uneasily with the bangin' beat. But it's the VNV Nation remix which, somewhat to my surprise, takes the prize. It pushes the song in a different direction from the original - and sounds nothing like VNV Nation! I was half expecting the song to be remodelled into a virtual VNV-track, as has happened before with other VNV remixes (Das Ich's 'Destillat' being the classic example). In fact, Ronan Harris (for it is he) has constructed a cinemascope showstopper in which the beat remains subtly in the background, but the synths build and build, creating an uplifting, almost orchestral music which stands in complete opposition to the downbeat vocals. As a result, the track gains a kind of taking-on-the-world feel which really does work. Well, I never thought I'd find myself paying compliments to Mister Glowsticks himself, but in this instance Ronan Harris has come up with a good 'un.
The new RBN album should be along later this year, and if this EP is any guide it'll be worth waiting for. It's about time we had an electronic band which can touch base with the club crowd and the dance floors, while at the same time avoiding all the stomp-and-chant, wave-your-hands-in-the-air cliches of the genre. Could RBN be that band? Let's hope so.
Incidentally - technical query: when I play this CD on my computer, why does the info flung up on my monitor by Windows Media player give me the track listing of 'Breathe', the old-skool goth album released by an early incarnation of RBN some years back? Heads are going to roll at the pressing plant when the band discover that!
Faithless (Radio edit)
Faithless (Pandora) (Remix by Tom Shear/Assemblage 23)
Higher Ground (Voxless)
Faithless (Remix by Ronan Harris/VNV Nation)
Faithless (Full length)
Faithless (Edit) (Remix by Ronan Harris/VNV Nation)
Selling Heaven (HRH135 mix)
Condition One (V2.0)
Steve Weeks: Programming, keyboards, vocals
Bryon Adamson-Woods: Programming, keyboards, guitars
Kevin King: Live keyboards
The website: http://www.revolutionbynight.com
Reviewed by Uncle Nemesis: http://www.nemesis.to