Release Date: Dec 6, 2011
Record label: Machine Music
Genre(s): Electronic, Industrial, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative Dance, Goth Rock, Industrial Dance
Since apparently all new music by young bands can be categorized as “acoustic twee,” “electronic twee” or “retro twee,” it falls on the still noble shoulders of one of music’s elder statesmen to make albums that don’t sound like Paul Simon bootlegs. Gary Numan, while best known for the still-modern-sounding 1979 Number One “Cars,” has been delivering challenging new albums consistently since the late ’70s. Dead Son Rising is a dark experimental work that reminds us why Trent Reznor is an obvious fan; whispered vocals over a minor chord piano line always work when the desired result is “chilling.
A reworked collection of songs previously discarded from several studio albums, Gary Numan's 20th effort, Dead Son Rising, suggests that the electro-pop pioneer should scrabble around for any more leftovers lurking in the vaults. For despite its pick and mix approach, the follow-up to 2006's Jagged (whose producer, Ade Fenton, also features again here) is arguably his most cohesive and consistent effort since his early-'80s heyday. Of course, it's difficult to ignore the huge Trent Reznor-sized shadow that looms over the majority of its 12 tracks, with the bombastic synths, crunching riffs, and menacing vocals on the likes of "When the Sky Bleeds, He Will Come" and "Big Noise Transmission" owing more than a nod to the industrial electro-metal of The Fragile.
Slowly but surely over the years, the perception of [a]Gary Numan[/a] has shifted from faded pop relic to godfather of all electronic music – that [a]Battles[/a] guest spot on ‘[b]My Machines[/b]’ this year being something of a peak. The stage is now set for him to deliver a latter-day masterpiece that will spread his appeal beyond his hyper-devoted fanbase and into a new generation, but this – a collection of offcuts revamped in the industrial style that has characterised his recent work – isn’t it. The likes of ‘[b]Big Noise Transmission[/b]’ and ‘[b]The Fall[/b]’ are serviceable, but it’s the new album, due next year – ‘[b]Splinter[/b]’ – that will more likely complete his resurrection.[i]Hamish MacBain[/i] .
The list of heirs to the signature Gary Numan sound could go on for miles, but our UK veteran of small aircraft and synthesized guitars sounds as if he’s hovered amidst the current electronic music scene, in a similar fashion to The Orb or Tangerine Dream, making appearances by passionate necessity or in a passing fancy. Dead Son Rising suggests that Numan is trying to stay vibrant in the world of music that he helped spawn, but he does so without borrowing from younger generations. Numan is still Numan, and it’s a lovely darkness with its own set of oscillating peaks and valleys.
Fact: If you are a recording artist, ‘tis an uncomfortable moment when you make a record that sounds influenced by the guys influenced by the guys you influenced. Here, ol’ Gary Numan’s done gone and let his Nine Inch Nails flag fly. And it’s weird. Real weird. Maybe even weirder than the ….
People sneered at former synth pop star Gary Numan when he started dating the head of his fan club in the mid-90s. He had fallen out of favour since scoring two number one hits in 1979 ('Are "Friends" Electric?' and 'Cars'), clowned by the press, crippled by debt and seemed incapable of releasing anything other than arid funk rock. But it was Gemma O’Neil (who told her careers teacher that she didn’t need to attend his class as she was planning on marrying Gary Numan), now the mother of his three children, who deserves a lot of the credit for pulling him back from the brink.