was formed by the duo Stefan Großmann and Tilo Ladwig originally in 1995. Over the next four years they would produce a number of limited self-released works. These releases and hard work would lead up to their first live performance in Dresden, Germany. Their music caught the attention of the electronic music label Scanner
and they formed a bond that continues to this day.
At this point the career of this band was really launched with the popular single "Brainwash" and album Deception
. In 2000 they were invited to play at Wave Gotik Treffen in Leipzig. 2001 brought the next release Damn The Lie
which was a well-accepted follow-up to their previous work and popular singles. The band continued to play live at a number of prominent gigs including a trip to Sao Paulo Brazil as the headlining act. After more than three years they entered the studio again and presented us with their next album The Focus
, one of their best works to date.
The band currently consists of the original duo and the addition of Timo Fischer as the third member. Also for their 2005 release Noumenon
the American label Dancing Ferret Discs
licensed the release for the North American audience which would be an introduction of the band to many people in the western hemisphere. Besides the short EP The Cycle
in 2006, it would be another five years before we heard any more from this band, but it finally came in the form of Serve or Suffer
For those not familiar with this group, they provide an upbeat form of electronic dance music that leans toward EBM but is something that synthpop and electro-pop fans will love. They are often compared to Project Pitchfork
with their similar vocal style and electronic loops, but they do manage to pull off their own unique elements. With this great style you can expect many selections on the Gothic Paradise club mix radio show, so have a listen.
Serve or Suffer - Review
As something of a celebration of their 10-year anniversary since their first maxi release, we have this excellent new album, though it took nearly five years of their history to release just this one disc.
However, it seems the wait has been worth it because we have another great album that I think fans can really enjoy. The album comes with thirteen upbeat, dance-friendly pieces that feature their recognizable style and unique lyrical and vocal content.
As I've had plenty of time to listen to this album a dozen or more times, I have definitely come up with a list of favorites that stand out on the album. The lyrics, like on previous albums, have a definite "preachy" mindset, giving advice and counsel to the listeners. On many tracks it just fits and the music just becomes a natural backdrop and medium for conveying the message. However, as far as music goes, it's definite the heavy beats and melodic synths on many pieces that make them the favorites on this album. "Interconnectedness" is a perfect example of this with it's smooth, flowing synthesized strings and other melodic synth loops over a steady beat with Stefan's unique vocals presenting the lyrical content. Following right on this heals of this piece is another favorite "Deficit Mindset" where the heavy beat becomes the driving factor and favorite element mixed with heavy, pulsating electronics. As the album drifts along, "Serve Or Suffer" is really the next piece to really stand out amongst the others. It has another heavy beat and layers upon layers of synths with a very heavy and solid bass that becomes the driving factor in this piece and perfectly accents the lyrics of "you have to serve or suffer, you've got to choose one or the other.." that fans will be singing along with on dancefloors all over the world.
Throughout the rest of the album we still have some great tracks. The music flows well from one piece to another with driving beats that move it along well. They usually don't have anything that I would really skip, but on this album and all of their works with a somewhat religious theme, it was surprising to hear "I Enter You" which seemed an afront to the normal theme and just doesn't fit well on the album or in this band's discography at all. However, I think it's an easily forgettable track amongst the rest of the album. As it wraps up we're presented with possibly my favorite piece on the album "Somebody". It has meaningful lyrics and the vocals become the most melodic on the album all layered over the top of an excellent mix of somber, emotion-filled synths and a nice, moving excellent beat. An album full of pieces like this would make it a perfect album from this band and I look forward to many more like it in the future.
NoumenoN - Review
It seems like it wasn't too long ago that I was sitting here reviewing The Focus
, and here we are again with the latest album from this popular synth and EBM crossover band.
This new album contains fourteen new tracks and the US version released on Dancing Ferret Discs
includes three additional exclusive remixes for a total of seventeen really great selections on this disc.
Much like their previous works, this album is packed with mostly danceable beats and music that most synthpop fans will really enjoy. The music is smooth and upbeat, the vocals are easily identifiable and the lyrics continue to relate a message that seems very dear to the writer's heart. The album starts off with the powerful german piece "Gedanken-Reich" which sports that solid sound we really enjoy from this band. The german vocals add a bit of harshness to the overall feel of the track and the english chorus is a nice touch making this easily a favorite from this album. But it quickly became apparent this wouldn't be the only favorite as one right after another on this album come at the listener. "Regain the Throne" is one of these that captures the listener's attention but also really brings out a religious and philosophical theme that remains prominent on this work.
The overall homogenous nature of the album maintains the solidarity of the work, but there is still enough variety to hold the listener's attention. The album sports enough of the fast-paced club-friendly tracks like another of my favorites, "Stop the Fall" which I think could become a club classic. But the pace and tempo shifts enough between this and the slower, steady beats of "Here & Now". One thing I love about this latter track is the way they really delve into the deep vocals on this piece which really adds a great dynamic element.
As mentioned before, the theme of this album is even more prominent than previous works. Just the track titles really portray what lies behind the music, "Lord", "Solid, Steady, Changeless", "A Man Received the Answer" all seem to tell the story very well. The lyrics are strong and meaningful, they blend well with the powerful and smooth electronic music along with the solid vocals. Once again this group comes through with another great disc that fans can really enjoy.
The Focus - Review
After first becoming acquainted with this band several years ago I've been enjoying several of their releases and singles. After being introduced to "Deception" so many years ago I was thrilled to hear this band.
Later I heard the follow-up "Damn the Lie" and have been frustrated that they didn't have good distribution in North America so more people good hear them. So when I was presented with their North American release of their album The Focus
, I was pleased to hear their sound had continued to progress and now a larger portion of the world can easily pick it up and hear it.
This release takes their accessible dance beats and somewhat gruff vocals to a new level of accessible electronic music. They continue to include many social and political themes in their lyrics and so appeal to the politically charged gothic/industrial audience of the new millenium. The album includes 13 original tracks and three bonus remixes for over an hour of great music.
The slowly building and pulsating rhythms of "Essence" kick off the album. The solid rhythms of this mid-tempo are the driving force as the electronics slowly build in intensity with the layered vocals and synth elements. This sets the tone as the album picks up the pace and is virtually packed with a solid selection of moving dance-friendly tracks. "Captivated" is the first of these more upbeat tracks with a solid beat and heavier synths. And so the album moves through this pattern of heavy vocals, heavier synths and moving beats through all 16 tracks. There isn't a lot of variety in the vocals or musical patterns, but what lacks in variety the lyrical content and overal style makes up for.
As I've been listening to the album it has been hard to find anything that really stands out or jumps out as favorites. Overall the more intense tracks, whether they be slower, more emotional or the more dance-friendly, driving tracks seem to grab my attention. The problem is that I just basically described the entire album. "Essence" and "Captivated" both really grabbed my attention at first listen. Then as I move through the album progressing through the title track and the awesome german track "Herzlos" grabbed with their addictive hooks and catchy electronic loops. The gruff vocals which are often compared to Peter of Project Pitchfork
have little variation, but are captivating in the layered elements and deep sound.
After listening to the album several times I started to pick up on the lyrical content a bit more and found them very meaningful and sincere. It's also nice to hear something that people can latch onto and agree with or take to heart and enjoy with the excellent music. This is something that I try to seek out and encourage in artists all over the world regardless of social, political or religious background.
Once again a band has proven they can take a somewhat generic style, in this case EBM/electro-pop music and turn it into something enjoyable for fans of many different styles. This is a noteworthy album that I recommend electronic music fans pick up.