Little introduction is needed for Gary Numan, a man who has easily been one of the most influential artists to musicians, bands, and a wide range of genres over the thirty five years or so since emerging in 1978. Admittedly the media has not always been in the same place towards him as fans but his inspirational influence is undeniable as the likes of The Prodigy and Nine Inch Nails to Queens Of The Stone Age, Fear Factory and Marilyn Manson to Kanye West, as well as a vast array of other industrial, electronic, and gothic rock bands constantly show and admit. With early and impacting pinnacles coming from Replicas (as Tubeway Army), The Pleasure Principle, and Telekon, Numan’s twenty albums have ebbed and flowed in success and quality, but for the most they have stretched to varying effect his and music’s walls and inventive nature. New and twenty first album Splinter (Songs from a Broken Mind) is no exception certainly, a thrilling and inventive provocateur definitely, and an album which we would suggest recaptures the strongest influential heights of the man’s unique style of potent imagination.
Produced by long standing collaborator Ade Fenton and featuring guitarist Robin Finck, Splinter (Songs from a Broken Mind) is the follow up to 2006 album Jagged, though there has been the 2011‘straight-to-the-fanbase’ release Dead Son Rising in between. The album is soaked in shadows and suggested demons, the release coming from what the Los Angeles based Numan has admitted has been a dark period for him; equally though it crafts and sculpts a web of infectious and irresistibly magnetic pop bred persuasion which leaves extremes of thought and textures a compelling emotive landscape. Mentioned earlier was the fact that Nine Inch Nails has taken inspirations of Numan into its creative expanses and upon the new album it shows it has been a two-way street as essences of Trent Reznor’s sounds can be heard as an instigator upon Splinter (Songs from a Broken Mind). The album is not breaking in new ground or pastures for industrial and electronic rock it is fair to say, but undeniably presents itself as one of the best electronically bred, atmospherically spawned albums for a few years and Gary Numan striding back to his best.
The Mortal Records album opens with the outstanding I Am Dust. Big imposing electro beats and strokes flex their sinews from the opening seconds, their intimidation wrapped in intrigue and even greater enticement once those uniquely recognisable tones of Numan begin the song’s narrative. Commanding and riveting, the industrial smouldering soon has imagination and passion recruited to its drama whilst the evolving synth dance toys with and ignites a contagion which in turn sparks a predacious hunger for what is to come. The melodic breath of the track has an eighties swagger which recalls the likes of Blancmange whilst that starker shadowed presence taunts senses and thoughts to even greater temptation.
From the outstanding start Here In The Black draws on darker intensive shadows to create another mouthwatering pinnacle to continue the immense beginning. Darkly whispered vocals prey upon the climactic build of the track, its heart inspired by its creators struggle with depression and its sounds a constantly consuming and intensive weave of unsettling provocation and delicious melodic toxicity. The crescendos of energy and fully flighted enterprise comes with a virulent seduction coated in a pop catchiness which lies within the intense presence of the song but makes a sirenesque call which is open and irrepressible addictive.
The following Everything Comes Down also has its seeds in a darker rapacious premise and sound, its slowly breeding atmosphere and intent a continually shifting and engaging provocateur which is matched and developed by the pulsating and emotively driven music. The melodic soaring across the infectious chorus takes thought back to those previously mentioned early albums whilst the chilled almost suffocating creative wash feels NIN cultured. The song equals its predecessor to accelerate the appetite further and deepen already the thrilled pleasure.
Both The Calling and Splinter drift into deeper challenging depths, the first entwining its electro tendrils around a cavernous ambience whilst its cinematic epically honed atmosphere floats across the imagination, both danger and beauty willing instigators to dramatic scenery. It is a track easy to submerge within, to reflect upon and script one’s own testament, a tale which constantly colours the artist’s canvas or its recipient’s own thoughts and captures the imagination fully if failing to ignite all the flames inside which the previous tracks stoked up. Its successor is equally impacting and inventive within its absorbing presence and in its ability to coax out individual visions and saga within the listener. Sultry Eastern textured female vocals and stringed chants lay down initial bait within the exotic climate before Numan works his persuasive alchemy vocally and sonically. The song smoulders and seduces from start to finish and with each listen leaving a stronger and longer lingering influence and enslavement. The sweltering climes of the song are tempered by the melodic grandeur and synth cast beauty but ultimately the song is a wash of heat which again shows that Numan is still a master to be inspired and spurned on by.
Lost is another simmering burn of an encounter which transfixes ears and thoughts, though the ballad is pale against the song before and next Up Love Hurt Bleed. The first single from the album, the track is industrial electro pop which throbs and stays within the ear with unbridled virulence though as always shadows are not far from the surface. There is a familiarity to it which makes it wholly accessible if lacking surprises but as a temptress into the album it is an epidemic of allurement before which voice and body cannot resist adding their support.
Numan pushes his vocals pleasingly in the heavy reflection that is A Shadow Falls On Me and the threatening yet enchanting Where I Can Never Be. It is not a dramatic move but a gentle emotive exploration and expelling of nuances which enriches attention and matches the fiery adventure within the songs. Both tracks take their time in making their declarations, the second of the pair a blend of suffocating intensity and mesmerising melodic mystique, and though neither forge the grip of other tracks both leave a irrefutable passion for album and more.
The album is completed by We’re The Unforgiven, a track crafting an industrial emotional wasteland, the brilliant Who Are You, and the closing ballad My Last Day. The penultimate song is one to exhaust the dance-floor even with its mid paced gait. With more twists and swerves than a bat at night and as dark, it is a magnificent reminder of the different styles Numan can employ into his electronic invention whilst the closing emotional caress basks in potently hued atmospheres and a prowling ambience which reveals more of its writer and inner thoughts.
Splinter (Songs From A Broken Mind) is an outstanding album, not one loaded with instant slices of addiction causing contagion but a release superbly and instinctively textured to take the listener on a rich imagination fuelling journey through the craft and emotional ingenuity of Gary Numan as well as levels of intensive enjoyment presumed lost since those early days of his impressive career. An unexpected triumph in many ways, this is an album destined to be devoured very greedily over coming weeks and beyond.
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