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Zoviet France - Digilogue CD (album) cover

DIGILOGUE

Zoviet France

Progressive Electronic


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3 stars By 1995 Zoviet France were past their best. Gone are the industrial loops and ritual percussion and most of the of vocals. This is due to the departure of stalwart Robin Storey (1980- 92, now of 'Rapoon').

I, like most, prefer the analogue approach they once inspiringly maintained for so many years, creating many wonderfully weird albums. Recordings that were so dark and unusual that you could imagine the band looking like they'd just escaped from a collapsed mine-shaft on it's completion.

Now things are digital. Clinically processed and if truth be told... somewhat forgettable. The opener 'Alchemagenta' is a repetitive loop that you can easily envisage being created on a Mac computer. It's too clean, too precise and ultimately sterile. You can almost see the 'iceberg' graphics floating from right to left across the computer monitor. The only saving grace on this lame 13 minute opener is an unusual horn that is played over the top of the recording.

Sadly, this is their only album that appears to have been in wide circulation.

'Haze Polder' continues in this fashion and sounds like you're hearing someone's car alarm go off 3 streets away. It's too precise and without the feel of human hands behind it.

My listening abilities become strained by the time I reach 'Soft Helion' which displays big tubular blasts of swirling air which meld into what sounds like someone crushing a broken accordion.

Things improve with the 8 minute 'Another Soft Helion' which sounds like it belongs on 'Shadow, Thief of the Sun'. Long drawn out drones have what might be extremely distorted human vocals over the top - but they're so over processed it's difficult to tell. Still, this is far better than anything that's gone before. This is the kind of creepy sound I was hoping for when I bought this upon it's release in '96. Gone is the clean surgical white sound, to be replaced by an altogether more malevolent darkness, helped enormously by unintelligible voices.

Angel's Pin Number' has a multitude of reversed sounds under swirling swathes of drones atop high pitched vocals similar again to 'Shadow Thief of the Sun'. Stamped with a trademark 'Zoviet France' seal of approval. Excellent stuff.

I'd forgotten how much better the longer this progresses. From the dreary beginning, things have improved dramatically and I'm much happier now reviewing another LP by my all time favourite band. The final track 'Init' is a 13 minute ethereal, floating oddity with vocals that sound like audio-tape cut up cats whining. There's that unmistakable background swirl that leaves you in no doubt as to who's playing.

All of a sudden I'm happy again. I thought this was heading for a miserable two stars, but there's been an upsurge in proceedings. Whilst not tuneful in the normal sense of the word, 'Digilogue' does what it says: mixes the digital with the analogue, where the analogue is the clear winner. I'd still recommend anything from '86-'87 for newcomers, but this is actually pretty good if you can get your head around the shift in sound that the band introduced at this time.

Oh, and beware the last 5 seconds... I almost jumped through the roof with fright!

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Posted Thursday, February 19, 2015 | Review Permalink

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