Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Spend the Night: Zeigeist's The Jade Motel

Whether or not the Swedish electro band, Zeigeist, is actually a conspiracy concocted by The Knife as blogs such as Caffeine and Music and More Than Milk have proposed, doesn't really affect the fact that I highly enjoy Zeigeist's debut album The Jade Motel. Yes, I really like The Knife, too, but at this point, it doesn't matter to me whether the two acts are related, or, in fact, the same one. I'm more fussed about the missing "t" in their band name than the concrete identities behind the music. I don't want to get bogged down with technical terms either (electroclash, electropop, electro-whatever) - I just want to share my enthusiasm for a new record. The Jade Motel was apparently released in April of this year, but I only just came across it a couple of weeks ago. I should have just called this blog Better Late Than Never at the rate I review things, but as Vonnegut says, "So it goes."

Zeigeist, consisting of Princess, Per and Mattias, and citing the influences of Andy Warhol and David Lynch, straddles the likes of The Knife (last time mentioning them), Revl9n, Depeche Mode, and Ladytron with their crisp electro and dark, trashy underbelly. Their visuals are also rather stunning in a glam masquerade way - see their MySpace. Album opener, Humanitarianism, which also graces the second side of the Bunny single, is probably one of the less memorable tracks on the record for me, but it still hints at the brilliance of later vocals and rhythms. The second track, Tar Heart, is one of my favourites on the record - it blends unhinged, banshee vocals with precise beats, and though it very obviously borrows from Running Up That Hill, it still manages to sound fresh and rather eerie in places. The following track, Wrecked Metal, which is also the latest single, takes New Romantic synths and pairs them with fey, detached male vocals. After a brief interlude, the next song, Bunny, shimmies in, sounding like Depeche Mode's Just Can't Get Enough on speed, and improving on Gwen Stefani's What You Waiting For. Zeigeist's first single, Black Milk, pulses along in an upbeat way to accompany the contrast of lyrics like "We are the prophets of sorrow," and the dichotomy creates a dancefloor anthem.

Cuffs takes a much darker turn as the tones step down into the spiral stairwells of lower registers, whispering at violence while Pressurized Chamber uses breathy, smooth male vocals like Dave Gahan at his dreamiest. Fight With Shattered Mirrors begins in a style quite similar to the preening of acts like Dragonette and New Young Pony Club, but then scatters into different directions for the chorus like refracted strobe light, staccato and spinning. Final track, Dawn//Night uses a riff that sounds a bit like Gorillaz's Dirty Harry, but then whips it into a funkier, Justice-like track, adding dashes of disco falsetto.

Blending the art and beauty implied by "jade" with the clandestine sleaze of "motel," Zeigeist's debut is an electro feat of dancefloor desire and rendez-vous reverie.

Zeigeist's Web site:

Tar Heart - Zeigeist

Black Milk - Zeigeist

Fight With Shattered Mirrors - Zeigeist


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