CD, BOREDOMproduct, 2007
French label Boredom Product release “Naphtaline LP”, the latest album by Celluloide. Essentially an extended version of their freely downloadable MP3 EP, the album is a series of cover versions of various darkwave and alternative tracks reinterpreted in typically synthpop fashion by the band.
Covering music from seminal artists such as Sisters of Mercy, The Cure, Depeche Mode and Siouxsie and the Banshees, Celluloide – the French trio of Darkleti, Member u-0176 and Patryck Holdwem – call on some perhaps less obvious tracks for this tribute album. Their style is a mix of 80’s analogue synthpop and 8-bit electronics with nonchalant female vocals and a healthy dose of new wave attitude similar in style to Client. Although tracks such as Siouxsie’s “Happy House” and Depeche Mode’s “Somebody” are still easily recognisable, the band rework them in their own retro-electro style, effectively making them their own while paying their respects to the original recordings. Depeche Mode’s “Somebody” for example has an adrenaline injection to increase its energy levels by using the hyperactive synth backing from Mode’s “Photographic” and adding the vocals from “Somebody” over the top. The result is an upbeat synthpop combination, the energetic backing counteracting the slower, more melancholy pace of the title track. Similarly, Siouxsie’s “Happy House”, while instantly recognisable, is turned into a dark synthpop anthem, turning the original punk tune into a smooth electro track oozing with cool attitude. They even cover the very early and obscure Depeche Mode track “Reason Man”, turning it into an excellently reworked hard electronic epic.
On the face of it, the “Naphtaline LP” is a collection of fairly simplistic electro-pop cover tunes but look beyond the initial pop sensibilities and you’ll find some excellent reinterpretations of tracks from some heavyweights on the dark music scene. Their version of “Happy House” and “Reason Man” are particularly noteworthy, largely because they make an effort to record each track in their own style rather than try and emulate the original. Cover albums often don’t work too well but Celluloide do something interesting to pay tribute to the bands that have influenced them.
You can still download the first six tracks from this release that formed 2004’s free-to-download “Naphtaline EP” from the discography section of the Celluloide website at the band’s website.
— Paul Lloyd