It's a long seven years since Death In Vegas released an album, so the upcoming release of "Trans-Love Energies" (26th September 2011) represents something of an event. Tracks such as "Aisha" and "Dirge" are near perfect examples of the darker electronically-beat-tinged music that both fuelled, and was perpetuated by, the pre-millennial zeitgeist, that was so prevalent circa 1997-1999, filling mainstream radio playlists to capacity. Their initial run of four acclaimed albums came to an end in 2004. Frontman and songwriter, Richard Fearless, then spent several years in New York studying film and photography and forming dark-psych-rock outfit Black Acid. Now 2011 sees Fearless return to Death In Vegas, with the new album, and a UK tour planned for the Autumn. So what's the album like?
Well in brief the track listing reads like the chapters of a Philip K. Dick novel, and this is of course a good thing, given the psychedelic space faring direction that we're headed in, with opener "Silver Time Machine", its astronomically themed narration juxtaposed wonderfully against mandolins. "Silver Time Machine" seamlessly becomes "Black Hole", and it is this track which seems to make reference to Hawkwind's "Silver Machine", with the appropriate amount of analogue swoosh and guitar noise to render stars and rocket engines in the listeners mind. "Your Loft My Acid" is a far more robotic piece, with beautifully layered, ecstatic female vocals (supplied by Austra's Katie Stelmanis), set against a background of Eno and Kraftwerk. "Medication" shifts gear with Fearless taking up lead vocals again. Again a relatively minimal and mechanical song. "Coum" stretches this machine made middle section of the album out further, its bellowing space horns bringing the track to its end. "The Contino Sessions" provided a ready made soundtrack for dark sexiness in countless films and adverts, but in contrast "Trans-Love Energies" sounds like the soundtrack to the slow decent into madness, of some lost space station crew, somewhere, sometime. Stelmanis gives a menacingly sexy lead vocal again for "Witch Dance", taking us to some futuristic disco, as it would have been imagined in 1977. The track ends with brilliantly cold, echoing synth sequences, sounding like a computerised looping beacon. "Scissors" is more embellished than the preceding three tracks, with a brilliant Krell foot stepping bassline. Track eight, "Drone Reich", marks another section of the album, its Vangelis bliss, and it is blissful, a perfect 4:26 of space math given instrumental form. If you're sticking with us on the whole marooned space station motif, this track must mark the point where some wonderful star-rise is revealed, as the doomed craft orbits a gas giant into radio range. The beginning of "Lightning Bolt" is similarly, sonically vivid, beginning very much like something from Brian Eno's "Apollo", before adopting a more conventional structure, Fearless' voice echoing against plodding dub like bass, and electronic noise. The final track "Savage Love" begins as a serene electro space-scape, before Fearless manages to reignite the rocket engines at around 3:35, with an uplifting mantra of those droning sustained guitars, until the song ties up at a lengthy 6:58. This final section of the album does seem to owe much to Eno's "Apollo" which was of course inspired by NASA space missions, so this is, perhaps, a topical, more dystopian reworking, as the Space Shuttle program comes to its sad end. So, we may have got a little distracted along the way, looking skyward to the stars, but that is the effect the album has. Space-rock is surely at its best when it has the listener gripped in a zero gravity head swim. If Death In Vegas are making reference to Hawkwind, Kraftwerk and Eno then, they are doing so very well, and the resulting album works effectively as a craft of three stages: launch, orbit and return. Full Tracklisting: 1. Silver Time machine 2. Black Hole 3. Your Loft My Acid 4. Medication 5. Coum 6. Witch Dance 7. Scissors 8. Drone Reich 9. Lightning Bolt 10. Savage Love Find out more at www.deathinvegasmusic.com