A lot of attention has been paid to Male Or Female as it heralds the return of ex-Front 242 members Patrick Codenys and Daniel B, along with new member Elko Blijweert. The trio have put together an experimental, slightly leftfield release that will doubtless catch a lot of you by surprise, especially when "$in$" and the similarly trip hop-influenced "Eyelid Surgery" (a song that Massive Attack would be proud to call their own) are two of the more accessable pieces on the album. This is testament to the amount of experimentation that is involved here, although, to be fair, it never becomes self-indulgent or boring, the band know when to say "enough" whilst keeping that innovative nature intact.
One great surprise is the number of surprise Krautrock similarities to be found on tracks such as "Louder Than Silence" while the repetitve guitar riffs of "Skeleton Toy", the manic "Sloblo" or the restrained chords of "Automat" all help to bring, to varying extents, the works of Faust and Ash Ra Tempel's more atmospheric moments, even down to the lo-fi recording feel that remains a trademark of that historic music. Actually, 'atmospheric' is a word that applies to much of this album as proven by "Sculpture Sans Titre" and it's tense, haunting atmosphere or "Lucent Skin (Kamikaze)" which sets up a nicely ambient mood through skillful sequencing and chords before going off on one with an odd array of seemingly random noises at the end. Such abstract touches are an integral part of the album's sound, being virtually ever present (especially on tracks such as the closing "Spine On Spine" where they are given full rein) and offer a greater range of possibilities in terms of textures and styles. One habit that is adhered to pretty much throughout is in the expert building of deceptively complex soundscapes from very simple beginnings, such as "She Moves In Circle (Not For Me)" where spoken vocals (courtesy of Marc Meyer, one of a number of guest vocalists who lend their talents) mix with a slowly rolling bassline that gradually gains in intensity.
I guess by now you'll have correctly surmised that anyone expecting Front 242-style EBM will be disappointed by this album but if you've a mind to stretch your musical boundaries or just feel in an adventurous mood then this may well be for you.
Artist Link: http://www.alfa-matrix.com