This album is not what I expected. Forgive me, I think I’m suffering from that same old reviewer’s sickness of expecting an older musician to produce work of an identical boilerplate to his former band’s glory days. When I think of Suicide, I think eerie, pulsing synths courtesy of mad scientist Martin Rev, and the droning, monotonous mutterings of his comrade Mr.
Synth whiz Martin Rev, co-founder of legendary New York underground art rockers Suicide, has gone classical on his eighth solo album, but it's classical of a particularly Rev-esque nature. Blatantly performed on a keyboard, the 14 short tracks that make up Stigmata sound like excerpts from the score for a direct-to-video fantasy film, the sub-Enya "harp" sounds of "Jubilate" and the swooning strings of "Te Deum" (all the song titles are in Latin) providing suitably cheesy backdrops for Rev's minimalist, barely-in-tune crooning. Though "Sanctus" tries to crank things up a little, this music doesn't even have the pomposity and epic darkness of, say, the faux-classical interludes on a Dimmu Borgir album, nor does it have the coiled energy and relentlessness of Rev's work with Suicide.
Last summer, I had the pleasure of joining about a dozen classmates in a roundtable discussion with the author and journalist Joan Acocella, perhaps most recognized as the dance critic for The New Yorker. Somewhere towards the end of the chat, I asked her whether she finds it necessary to immerse herself in the background of what she’s reviewing or if she feels comfortable evaluating something without really knowing its context. Her firm conviction was that any responsible reviewer does as much studying for a piece as possible, as good criticism suggests a specialty in whatever it is that’s being criticized.