Wednesday, September 25, 2013

CD Odyssey Disc 553: KMFDM

This next album comes with an insert where you can mail away for more albums, as well as an invitation to write for a free catalogue of band merchandise by sending a Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope (this used to be called a SASE) to them.  How quaint.

However, the band also included a website and an email, which was pretty forward thinking for 1995.

Disc 553 is…. Nihil
Artist: KMFDM

Year of Release: 1995

What’s up with the Cover?  This is a rare KMFDM departure from their usual artist, Aidan “Brute” Hughes.  This cover is instead by Francesca Sundsten, and depicts a frumpy looking woman, with a fly over her head.  She looks like some kind of farm matron who has just caught you tipping her cows.

How I Came To Know It:  As I noted when I reviewed my other KMFDM album (“Angst” back at Disc 539), my friend Patrick put me on to these guys recently, and Sheila bought both records for me for my birthday in June.

How It Stacks Up:  I only have two KMFDM albums.  I prefer “Angst” to this one, so “Nihil” slips to second.

Rating:  2 stars, but almost 3

For the second time in only fourteen albums, the Odyssey decides I should listen to more industrial ‘club’ metal from the mid-nineties.  KMFDM are the masters of this sound, and “Nihil” is another example of how well they know their genre.

This is the music that would have made a rave in the mid-nineties worth attending.  Attention modern rave holders; it is more fun to stay up all night if the music is danceable.  Please stop dub-stepping.

As with “Angst” the message on the album isn’t terribly complicated, speaking vaguely of rebellion and sex.  When read outside of the music the lyrics seem a bit juvenile.  Consider this from “Beast”:

“My youth is wasted – I’m evasive and vague
I’m a headless beast – I’m a subtle plague
I’m a cheatin’ liar – I am naked terror
I hurt – I wound – I’m a fatal error.”

Not terribly inspiring, but fortunately themes of rebellion and sex are foundations of rock and roll and so it totally works in the context of the song.

“Nihil” is music where you can get the revolution out of your system without actually having one (there is even a song called “Revolution” although I’m not sure exactly why based on the vague lyrics).  Even the album title is a word that seems pregnant with purpose, but actually fundamentally represents negation.

For all that negation, “Nihil” has lots of energy, even if it isn’t going anywhere.  The driving guitar riffs and accompanying electronic back beat appeal to the subconscious mind. If you are frustrated and need a release but you’re not sure exactly what is bothering you, this music is a perfect salve.  Get out on the dance floor and sweat it out and let the words help draw the frustration out of you in the process.

Overall, I found “Angst” to be a better collection of KMFDM’s work than this one, but “Nihil” did have its moments.  “Juke Joint Jezebel” has a fallen church choir feel to it and would be great to dance to.  It sounds familiar enough that I think I probably did back in the day.  I also liked “Disobedience,” which had some elements of Faith No More in it, a sort of staccato rap over top of powerful riffs

However, while it is overall pretty good, it didn’t have enough going for it to be anything more.  In fact, after two complete listens today I took a break and walked to work listening to a Flying Burrito Brothers album instead, which I preferred overall.

Yet when I went to the gym later, I put “Nihil” back on.  I listened as I ran furiously on the treadmill.  Of course I got nowhere, but it felt good afterward – kind of like this record.

Best tracks:  Juke Joint Jezebel, Disobedience, Brute

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