Thursday, May 14, 2009

Pornography: Re-heat

This is something for old and faithful fans of The Cure
Especially for those who love the early so-called "Trilogy" from the early 80s, comprising the 3 albums Seventeen Seconds, Faith and Pornography.

The official title of this album is Lágrimas De Miedo 14 - Pornography: Re-heat and is actually cover of the whole of The Cure's classic 1982 release "Pornography", this release was given away with Issue No. 14 of Fear Drop magazine, which issue was devoted to a short study in the form an essay about the same album.

Faithful in terms of the original vision for the album, the treatments here are harsh, cold and experimental, much harsher and more difficult than even the original in fact.

Nadja get the ball rolling with a 10 minute treatment of "One Hundred Years", slowing down the original to half speed and almost crushing it under a massive wall of guitars: all drone, distortion, reverb and feedback, with Aidan Baker's vocals buried way in the background so that the track almost dissolves in its own excess, almost like a heroin overdose. Nadja draw out and emphasize to extremity the feverish guitar riffs of the original version. It's my personal favourite off this collection of treatments.

Dirge follow with a metallic, thrashing cover of "A Short Term Effect", once again slowed down and clocking in at over 9 minutes, stretching the original song to focus right in on its dissonant and abysmal mood.

Savage Republic follow next, covering the only single off the album "The Hanging Garden" and stay quite faithful, honing in on the complex tribal drum patterns. The melody is sacrificed though for a harsh monotone vocal, well drawing out the implicit violence of the original.

Wild Shores are up next with "Siamese Twins" which is given experimental surgery. Not much of the original remains at all. The rhythm is entirely replaced, the accompaniment is replaced with electronic noises of indeterminate origin and the vocals are "sung" in monotone by a cold, emotionless speech synthesizer. The effect is quite disturbing as "Siamese Twins" is perhaps the most ostensibly emotional song on the album, in terms of traditional broken romance themes.

Year Of No Light are up after that with "The Figurehead", and I have to say I was rather disappointed with this interpretation. The original orbits entirely around the brilliantly articulated and developed guitar melodies/riffs over a complex rhythm pattern - at an almost classical depth - but unfortunately Year Of No Light decides to turn these into a tangled, almost indecipherable mess where the basic structure of the song becomes almost impossible to follow. More than once I couldn't make out what part of the song I was listening to. The vocals also are re-arranged and placed back in the mix, but not quite far enough, so that you're constantly trying to follow them, rather than just giving in, letting them go and dissolve as was the impulse with Nadja's interpretation. The overall effect is messy, uncoordinated and sounds like a drunken rehearsal. Maybe that was the intention, but it doesn't work in my opinion. Maybe I just need to give it more time. It will probably end up becoming my favourite track after a while, knowing how I go with albums.

After that enter Kill The Thrill with "A Strange Day". This re-working is the most faithful to the original. They retain the tempo, the rhythm, and even the arrangement of the original, though expanding the sound somewhat, with all its synth chords and guitar riffs. De Benedetti's vocals sound much more harrowed and gravelly than Smith's on the original, conveying the same angst but in a more sombre, serious way in a very continental conjuration of Angst.

Penultimately appear Troum doing "Cold". They ditch the rhythm section of the original, choosing to retain and focus on the keyboard parts in order to fully extract the dark ambient (dare I say Goth) potential of the original. The vocals are whispered here rather than sung to accentuate their dark portent.

Finally there's Japanese experimental act Contagious Orgasm with the title track "Pornography" and Hashimoto here settles for a deconstruction retaining connotative elements of the original - the backmasked vocals, sounding like they're coming over a phone connection here; the weaving melodic riffs here played on what sound like oboes and strings rather than keyboards and distorted guitar against the one note per bar base line (as opposed to bass), although the baseline melody has been re-arranged. These are underscored by electronic parts and once again, a speech synthesizer doing fragments of the lyrics in Japanese perhaps? I don't know really. The original musical and melodic structures are dispensed with. Only something of the form, nothing of the substance of the original track remains.

Which is a good way to close this album as this tribute is very faithful to the album's form and its structure but extremely experimental and playful with its substance or its content, which makes it a thoroughly fascinating experience to listen to!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

this is waaayyyy better: