For those who are fans of electropop, something that is sorely missing from the musical scene now is serious comeback of darkwave. Well that used to be the case – welcome to Pop Danger. Well… that would be the translation of De/Vision’s newest album’s title: “Popgefahr” (23 March 2010 in the USA). Hailing from Germany, and playing with the words “the vision” and “division” in the band’s name, De/Vision (slash is compulsory) offer up their eleventh full length completely unapologetically and basking (or is that wallowing) in a dark electronic pop. For those still stuck on Xymox’s “Twist of Shadows” and Depeche Mode’s “Black Celebration,” this is the album for you. But do not make the mistake of thinking that these are the molds that De/Vision works from. Though intrinsically in the same genre/range of music, “Popgefahr” has an urgency and relevancy that is all 2010. From the tight production to the luscious layers of music, avoiding being lumped in with the other electro acts of the moment, De/Vision puts forth what could easily be said the best album of their career, and perhaps the best darkwave album in years!
The sounds are the most memorable to date. De/Vision combines the use of traditional sounds of the 80s and the new sounds of the digital era. Combined together, the album has a distinct edge over other recent releases. The production is incredible. Every element of this album is mixed to perfection; track-to-track, the perfect balance is struck between all the sound elements and vocals, while avoiding the same formula for any two songs. And whatever you do, do no lump them into the current 80s revival movement; De/Vision has been producing music since 1993. Think of them not has revival, but vanguards of electropop music. (Grunge and Britpop may have supplanted electronic music for many years in the UK and the USA, but that was not the case in France or Germany.) And when you compare “Popgefahr” to the past albums, what becomes apparent is that the time off between albums (three years this time, the longest ever between albums for them) has paid off. The band has come back to produce an album that is devoid of filler material, with meticulous care to detail, and the most solid set of lyrics to date.
Opening with the sinister “mAndroids,” De/Vision chose the perfect opening track: it is inviting, as it gets your curiosity going. This is quickly followed by the lead single, “Rage”: “Last night I killed you in my dream, I was afraid it felt so real.” As dark as you can get, this track of rage taking over climaxes on the opening lines of the second verse that mirror the first: “Last night I killed you in my dream, today I am going to make it real.” And all the time, your body gives into the eeriness and beat, as you are drawn to dance to this emotional chaos. And the album continues to drag you through emotionally loaded songs that inspire dance. For instance, you might as well let the mirror ball crash to the floor with “Time To Be Alive” – ready for club play in its album format; the backmasking in the vocals add a level of sultriness to it. Midway through, they slow it down with “Be A Light To Yourself” – a sad, but reaffirming, song about breaking up. The closing track, most definitely the most haunting, “Until The End Of Time” is of epic proportion. “Until the dawn of eternity, we will be together,” is sung over an erratic arrangement that is dying to explode into a dance song, or implode into a repetitious dirge, but neither ever happens. It is the kind of the song that just hits you hard in the chest (the kind of song I love): a song that is dying to move away from its own arrangements, to explode into something else, but never does – and this creates the most powerful visceral effect for closing an album.
Electronic music, in the vein of pop music, has been making a steady comeback to the mainstream (and perhaps reclaim its once dominance), and now we may be seeing the rise of purely electronic darkwave music again. Though this duo (Thomas Adam and Steffen Keth) may breathe urgency and relevancy, they have done so by sticking to their guns and not jumping the bandwagon. Though their sound and compositions have matured throughout the years, their fundamental approach to music has been consistent, and this is one of the reasons I have come to respect this band. They could easily be writing pop ditties, filming glossy videos ready for MTV, and other gimmicky approaches, but they have been steadfast in their style of production of music, and seventeen years into their career, they have produced their strongest album yet: “Popgefahr.”
3. What’s Love All About
4. Time To Be Alive
5. Plastic Heart
6. Be A Light To Yourself
7. Ready To Die
8. Flash of Life
9. Twisted Story
10. Until The End Of Time
Keep up with De/Vision at their homepage, MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter.
Here is their video for “Rage” from the popgefahrrecords YouTube Channel.