CD, Das Drehmoment, 2007
Spam mail is generally considered by most internet users to be one of the great scourges of the early 21st Century. Many of us waste valuable time every day scrolling through lists of adverts for cheap viagra, penis extensions, lucrative business deals with Nigerian exiles and, more commonly, e-mails containing lists of random words with no apparent purpose. So it is either a fittingly topical subject around which to base an album or something so mundane and irritating that most would rather not be reminded of such an annoyance when trying to enjoy a CD, but spam and the internet is what Neongrau’s latest offering is all about.
Musically we have some lovely classic Synthpop in the proper early 80’s style, but inevitably with the benefit of modern recording technology to lend it a cleaner, smoother sound. Charming analogue voices throb and hum, whir and squelch, celebrating the modern electronic age and providing one of the most appropriate soundtracks for the information superhighway. The beats are driving yet delicate, the melodies mostly quirky yet occasionally darker and bass lines deep and wet, all padded out well with some curious random synth effects. The main drawback then, as is so often the case, is the weak and slightly sleazy voice, but then that is possibly more a matter of personal taste. In fact the creepy voice and somehow slightly sordid and suggestive rhythms are probably quite fitting for a record on the subject of spam.
I think the whole album shows many curious paradoxes in that each element which I find displeasing is arguably skilfully executed and entirely appropriate to the general concept. The opening track, which is included in two versions, “Hi Level Slacker” is disagreeable in its apathy and laziness, but then this is perfectly understandable in this day and age and when confronted with so much meaningless information every day. “Short” picks the pace up nicely and uses vocoder well in promoting the lengthening of inadequately small male members, while the filthy “E-Chicks Hero” is as dirty as anything banned from the pop charts, singing of ‘plastic pussies’, which never cry or menstruate!
“Taste In Taste” is a slower number, quite mature in its musical delivery, although one of the lesser vocal performances, and “Friends Fiction” is pleasingly humorous in depicting the somewhat futile and unhealthy nature of chat rooms and online blogs. “Fucking Talkshows” leaves the internet for the world of television and is a striking example of well written music versus dubious lyrics, and “Lunar Motel” takes us to the ‘space’ side of things with a convincingly futuristic instrumental piece. Cover versions of classic songs by highly influential bands are always risky, so it’s unsurprising that Depeche Mode’s “Photographic” is potentially the poorest song on the album, Neongrau’s singer coming nowhere near the perfection of Dave Gahan. It’s just as well then that the moving closing piece, “Landing”, is a really tasteful and emotional tune with a great touching melody, leaving the listener with the impression that this is a band that could definitely become a name to watch out for in the future.
— Nathan Clemence