I'm sure a lot of über music fans have had this bittersweet feeling before. It's really a ridiculous, unfair feeling to have, but no matter what I do, I still get it. It's that feeling of possessiveness over a particular band or artist that makes you simultaneously want to keep that artist a secret for your own selfish purposes and want to share the brilliance of that artist with the rest of the world that was too thick to notice him/her in the firstplace. You also get a feeling of superiority for being an early adopter - you're the one who "got it" first and made all the necessary effort to support that artist. And then all of sudden, that artist is made more accessible to others, who think their new discovery is indeed new. This is how I'm feeling about IAMX right now.
I've loved and supported IAMX, which is former Sneaker Pimps mastermind, Chris Corner's solo project, for at least three years now. I think I was first alerted to the fact I might be interested in IAMX via a small blurb in the NME (oddly enough, it was through an article written by Noel Fielding, but this was before I knew anything about The Mighty Boosh - it actually took me over a year after reading this article to watch The Mighty Boosh and subsequently remember their connection to Chris Corner when I saw his face appear on various magazine covers used in the television show), and when I went to check out the IAMX Web site and MySpace, I was completely hooked. The decadent darkwave with ethereal vocals trapped me, and combined with Chris Corner's androgynous, theatrical look, pushed me to search out import copies of both of his albums, Kiss & Swallow and The Alternative. I think I ended up obtaining the former via someone in Russia (hopefully, the supplier wasn't particularly shady) and the latter via a European Web site. Because IAMX is self-produced and self-distributed and based in Berlin, the albums were only ostensibly available in mainland Europe - they hadn't even released in the UK yet, which confounded my usual online retail sources. At any rate, I did get the albums and haven't stopped listening to them since. I then proceeded to see IAMX live in both Toronto and Detroit last fall (see my earlier post for a review of those incredible experiences) - I was thankfully living in Waterloo, Ontario at the time rather than Winnipeg, but I can't say I wouldn't have tried the same thing even if I would have had to fly out there for that purpose. However, now IAMX has signed a deal with Metropolis, finally making the albums available to North America - The Alternative was released on May 7 while Kiss & Swallow will follow on June 24.
I should be very happy about this turn of events, especially considering it's sticking it to people who believe a band couldn't be successful and tour without massive major label promotion. And I am happy. But at the same time, I get this rather nauseated feeling about all the American college radio stations touting the "new" IAMX that I've loved for a relatively long time now. Of course, people who have always loved Chris Corner from his Sneaker Pimps days probably hate my guts, too - to be fair, I do also quite love Sneaker Pimps, but that love followed from my love of and emotional investment in IAMX.
IAMX will now be doing a small American tour later this year (as far as I know, no Canadian dates - not even Toronto), and I can only hope that the venues don't get too massive. Venue size on tours becomes an equally great concern for me when a band/artist I like gains more popularity. I need and crave intimacy in a gig, meaning being too far from a stage is pretty much useless for me. The small IAMX shows I did get to see rank in my top five live gigs because the energy and atmosphere was just so perfect, and being wedged against the stage contributed massively to that feeling. I'm one of those people who doesn't like casual fans - give me the unhinged obsessives every time, they are what change an ordinary gig into an event.
But in the end, I do want IAMX to be successful, probably also for selfish reasons: namely, the fact that success will likely lead to future releases and a long career of music for me to enjoy. So, everyone who reads this: please do purchase IAMX albums and go to the live shows. Kiss & Swallow is a slower affair than The Alternative, but you truly do feel like you're having an affair with the album in all its filthy glory. The Alternative tends to rock more violently, but put together with Kiss & Swallow, creates the perfect variety of intensity for a music relationship. Chris Corner has the uncanny ability to meld cryptic lyrics into dark soundscapes of passion and perversity, and his voice creeps over your skin like a velvet glove, sometimes slapping you in your willing face. IAMX makes you want to push your limits, push the boundaries of who you are and what you're capable of. IAMX is the transcription of the fantasy of what you would like to be but cannot be in the daylight. You, like Chris Corner, become x.
And if you're not convinced yet, listen to the sample songs I've included for download. Mercy, off the Kiss & Swallow album, is absolutely breathlessly brilliant - probably my favourite track off the record. And the title track off The Alternative is a genius electro-stomp of a song with Corner's voice soaring and breaking with desire. I have also included the re-tooled version of Nightlife, which is on the new US release. Corner is a consummate artist with an evident perfectionist streak, always making sure that from the visuals to production IAMX is a complete self-contained vision of heartbreaking beauty. He takes chances and they always pay off.
Looking directly into Chris Corner's dark eyes while singing his lyrics back to him is an experience like no other. And I have to learn to let others experience it, too.
"the flesh is weak and without reason...they say the wretched get their kingdom" - Bring Me Back a Dog
IAMX MySpace: www.myspace.com/iamx
IAMX Web site: www.iamx.co.uk/
Metropolis Web site: www.metropolis-records.com/
Mercy - IAMX
The Alternative - IAMX
Nightlife (US Version) - IAMX