Thursday, January 1, 2009

Jan 1st, 2009 : Death In June – “Nada!”

Don’t know why I put this album on today. Some rare occurrence where I both have an impulse to listen to something totally out of context of that day’s train of thought AND actually take said impulse seriously and go grab it off the shelf. I have been through 3 or 4 Death in June phases over the years. I didn’t respond well to “Nada!” or anything about his music at first. Nevertheless, I was intrigued by Douglas P and his oddball marketing and somehow kept coming back to investigate his music. Over time, I did grow to like certain albums, especially the nightmare folk collage of “All Pigs Must Die.” Eventually I grew curious about “Nada!” in particular because of the artwork. It is a beautiful b&w photo session of three young men in uniform, acting out some kind of reverent ritual in the tombs of a cemetery. I downloaded it and attempted to listen again, but still did not feel anything special about the music. It seemed imbalanced and awkward; being a confusing mix of dark new wave racket mixed with stiff folk tunes. A few years later I had the opportunity to buy a few Death In June CDs for a fair price and one of them was “Nada!” I remember thinking that, though I did not care for the music, it would be worth owning just for the artwork. Today I put in this album expecting to at least be able to analyze what I did not like about it; instead I heard something totally new about this album. How is it, that upon the forth or fifth exploration, suddenly every nuance of a piece of music can suddenly make sense. The opening track, “The Honour of Silence”, is a chilling piece of psych folk doom. This song is made up of deep vocals drenched in reverb, background choral hum-along, subtle martial drum accents, droning acoustic guitar, and a slight flamenco air to the entire proceedings. There is no seguing to prepare you for the electro-industrial stomp of the next track, “The Calling (Mk II)”. This basic pattern continues for the duration of the album, alternating between pulsing darkwave and romantic chamber folk; all perpetrated within a passionately haunted atmosphere. The young Douglas is also being much more expressive with his vocal range on this album than he would on later albums. Perhaps it is because I am listening to “Nada!” again after spending a good part of this winter reexamining the pop music of the early 80’s (was on a huge Human League/OMD/New Order binge just a month ago), but somehow this album has gone from sounding tediously amateur to strikingly innovative.

Death In June - Nada! (1985)

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