CD, Audiophob, 2009
Alarmen, in naming their most recent record “Next”, were halfway right. Unfortunately for them, the half they left off was the “please” that should have followed it… Yes, “Next, please” would have been a far more apt description of what is (or isn’t, for that matter) happening on this album. Sadly, I am more man than machine, despite an undeniable penchant for electronic music, and “Next” seems composited – rather than composed – with a mechanical audience in mind. Music that doesn’t resonate on an emotional level with me just doesn’t manage to hit the right buttons in any way, shape or form, sad to say.
Part of the problem, I would posit, is that Alarmen, after nearly a decade of experimental sound generation, have made the move to a more structured, rhythmic approach that skirts the fringes of IDM, industrial and ambient, but fails to do more than touch briefly on any one thereof; this unsettled, undecided method lacks conviction and eventually fizzles out in a plethora of unexciting, generic atmospherics that don’t quite manage to convey anything much. A return to their previous style would far better suit this project.
The tracklisting, too (“Next 1”, “Next 2” and so forth through to “Next 7”) speaks volumes: perhaps it’s biased, but my opinion is that any artist that doesn’t put a name to a piece isn’t showing enough personal commitment to the piece itself to allow a listener (or viewer) to involve themselves on anything more than the most superficial level. Even Mark Rothko went to the effort of naming his bland, over-thought interior decorator’s wet dreams…
Honestly, I’d be doing fans of any electronic music genre a disservice by recommending “Next” to them. This is one album that would be best served by confining it to elevators in joyless, corporate monuments to the capitalist process of dehumanisation.
— David van der Merwe