Hmmmm. This album cover reminds me of Madonna’s Like a Virgin cover. Am I wrong? It looks like music reviews are going to become a regular feature here, because I keep finding things I want to write about. I was familiar with the band Die Form from the ’80s. They are a French electronic band with a German name (“die form” in German means “the shape” (big surprise there)). Turns out, according to the somewhat brief Wikipedia page for the band, it is a multilingual play on words.
My rat army raided a used record store recently and brought me back a bunch of music, including some Skinny Puppy (Mythmaker), The Tiny, ohGr (Undeveloped), Black Angels (Phosphene Dream), and, at long last, the eponymous Matson Jones album. I’ve been listening to these albums for a couple of weeks, and this is one of the albums I keep going back to.
Picture the Fritz Lang movie Metropolis in your head. All the mechanisms, the light and dark, the steam, the architecture, the workers, and the robot. Now imagine some people in that movie going to the theater. This album is what music would sound like in the movie Metropolis. (Later note: Darn. Looks like I’m not the first one to have this idea.)
The album presents a dark, evocative soundscape. Lyrics are harshly whispered by a man or sometimes sung by a woman. My favorite track on the album, Hypnogramme, features singing that has been cut up and put back together again in jarring, mildly annoying ways that make my brain tingle. A monster can imagine a flapper ingenue in flight through a dark forest, watched by countless owls. Or something. The “hit” on this album (as indicated by Pandora) is Chaos Theory. One song in particular sounds like it came straight off of Massive Attack’s Mezzanine, which was practically all I listened to for most of 1998.
The painful thing about music like this is that a lot of bands have done this kind of thing so horribly. I don’t know from experience, but I can only imagine that it takes a lot of careful work to pull it off and not sound like a bunch of people you might find in your back yard wearing capes and way too much eyeliner.
Here’s my diabolical plan for their future. I’m totally serious and I’m not saying this to make fun of anybody. I love Lily Allen. So I want Lily Allen’s people to contact Die Form and I want them to make an album together. I want Lily Allen to sing whatever poison or love she feels like projecting that day, and I want Die Form to run her crisp British vocals through their brand of Gibbytronix, and assemble a dark movement to frame them. After the album goes platinum, they can all send me a check for my consulting fee. Thank you in advance, future.
In the meantime, I suggest you give this album a spin. It’s either going to annoy the hell out of you, or you’ll really dig it. I think it’s pretty great.