C-TecdarkerWax Trax!/TVT Records (Cat. No. TVT7252-2)1657 N. Damon Ave.Chicago, IL 60647www.waxtrax.com
Certainly one goes into listening to any new project with Jean-Luc (Front 242) DeMeyer with certain expectations. Where I would have simply listened to and immediately forgotten darker had it been by anyone else, I could not do so with DeMeyer involved. I kept trying to like it, but after numerous attempts I am afraid I cannot.
C-Tec is DeMeyer teaming up with Cubanate's Marc Heal and Ged Denton. I have heard some of Cubanate and, though it wasn't my favorite, I thought it was some of the better of the new generation EBM. As for 242 and DeMeyer, I have long enjoyed their efforts. Sure the last few albums have not been as good as the earlier ones, they still have enough excellent work under their belts for me to qualify both 242 and DeMeyer masters of the genre. So what goes wrong on this album? Why does C-Tec fail?
The rest of the album is pretty forgettable. Sure, "flowing" is nice enough for the dance floor, but it isn't so interesting for home listening. "Epitaph" uses a poem by the same name by Dorothy Parker for the lyrics. They seem out of place amongst the music and Jean-Luc seems a tad unsure in their use. "Shift IV" uses a combination of heavy guitar and drum and bass that makes the track sound like a weak outtake from a Hellsau session with DeMeyer's voice.
Their failure can be associated to one single flaw. The structure is not complex enough. Most of the tracks revolve around one single loop of which is built on throughout the track. The basic structure never changes it only mutates. This is the same structure that the lesser techno bands employ and it is one of the major reasons that I have never taken a fancy to techno in general. Also, like techno, the music itself is based around beats primarily and most of the songs have no major keyboard part. The keyboard sounds are generally limited to the sort of bleeps and blurps standard to techno. The tracks that appealed to me most on the album ("the lost" and "stateless") are the two exceptions to this rule. However they, more than some of the other tracks, fall victim to the single loop syndrome that I mention earlier. The other two tracks I actually enjoyed off of this album were "random" (the opening track) and "silent voices". "Random" works because the beats are frantic and change regularly and because DeMeyer's chorus vocals actually work as a chorus where in much of the rest of the album it appears he's singing along to something that isn't there. "Silent Voices" I liked because it took the opposite route. It gives minimalism and no real chorus and despite the lyrics are not that strong the piece is rather haunting on a whole.
The lyrics on the album range from fine to decent. Nothing great, but nothing terrible either. But that is nothing new for DeMeyer, I have always liked his voice better than his vocals. On prime 242 the lyrics worked because they were oblique and more a part of the song than the whole of the song. As the lyrics became more obvious in their meaning they became less interesting. I suppose it is the constant, almost chirpy optimism and spiritual nature of the lyrics that I don't care for. His voice on this album is quite nice though. I only wish that he had sung along with the songs more often.
In looking over the review and listening to the album again, part of me wonders if I have been too harsh simply because I had such high expectations from DeMeyer. In the hope that I have been too harsh I do not plan to sell it yet, though I suspect it will sit in my small pile of CDs for a while before I pick it up again. Perhaps if you are a bigger fan of techno structure you will enjoy the album more than I.