I’ve come to crush your bones,
I’ve come to make you feel old,
I’ve come to mess with your head,
Cause it’ll make you feel good
What have we got here then? some pervy death metallists with a S&M fixation? nope 1992’s indie pin-up darlings Curve with their best LP Doppelgänger, which in its’ way may just be the most relentless LP I own and I do own some pretty relentless ones. When this lot came out they were feted by the UK music press desperate for that year’s Next Big Thing^, in my own inimitably mature way I immediately decided they were over hyped rubbish without hearing a single note. Luckily a broader-minded friend taped it for me and due to packing deficiencies the tape with this on one side and Darklands on the other was my only companion on the 9-hour coach journey home from university. By the time the batteries wore down just after Birmingham this LP and I were firm friends.
My thoughts listening to Doppelgänger again just now were the same as my initial ones when I first heard it that a) Curve sound a bit like an extremely pissed off Eurhythmics b) this lot make a real racket. In fact this LP has a really striking, exciting sound to it but I just can’t listen to the thing very often at all. Let me explain.
On Doppelgänger the production by Curve and Flood feels like, the oldest cliché in the book, a wall of sound. The music is immense, it feels like every single millimetre of the available space has been taken up by something, the drum machine beat, the keys, the heavily treated guitar, the vocal samples and vocals. There is simply no space in this music to insert yourself as a listener – there is no room at the din. To my mind this is both the best and worst thing about this LP, at first it thrills during the likes of ‘Already Yours’ and ‘Horror Head’, but by the time you have got to ‘Fait Accompli’ even though it is an excellent track, the preceding 30-odd minutes have given me a degree of noise fatigue. Unlike, say Phil Spector’s wall of sound built to keep you in, this wall is such a smooth, impenetrable barrier it ultimately stops you getting in. In fact after a certain point you notice that there are only minor differences in emphasis and melody in each of the tracks and I found myself spotting them, rather than listening – but that’s probably just me.
All of which makes it sound like a bit of a rubbish LP, it’s not at all. I love the sheer cacophony of ‘Already Yours’ in particular, Toni Halliday’s voice sweet and scary throughout, is triumphant on that one. I also like the ascending melodies of ‘Ice That Melts the Tips’ and the venom* of ‘Horror Head’. Whilst I did find this LP a bit of a gruelling listen tonight I would suggest that hearing the tracks occasionally on shuffle would be the best way to hear this LP; did I actually just type that ?! Across the way the band who would become Garbage heard this and thought, ‘Hmmm… if I take the dangerous bits out of this, it may just work…’
One for the time capsule.
^compare the sheer malicious charge of this LP against the usual cardigan wearing miserabalists we gullible readers were told were the second coming on a regular basis.
* at ease, metal legions – that’s venom without a capital ‘V’.