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a23 bruise
Artist: Assemblage 23
Title: Bruise
Genre: Electronic
Release Date: 8th June 2012
Label: Accession Records

Album Review

Looking at the cover of the latest ASSEMBLAGE 23 album, you see a giant bruise spreading across the skin, covered, or better framed by an obscure metal construction whose purpose, and thus its intention to put it there, remain a secret. The bruise itself on the other hand represents a theme that permeates the entire new album in one way or another, may it be of a psychological, physical, or even a social origin. Two years after 'Compass', Tom Shear revisits darker grounds again. Starting with 'Crosstalk', introduced by a muffled sample, the album hits full-force with a neat dance-floor filler which doesn't talk any prisoners, neither lyrically nor production-wise. Second track is named 'The Last Mistake' and its sombre current pulls you in right away with the story it tells. "If I can't have you then nobody can" is a central phrase inside the lyrical construct and reveals something that has more and more become frightening standard in society. The fact that people have grown incapable of coping emotional distress other than performing extreme reactions and actions!

'Over & Out' simply compels by delivering a compound of perfectly adjusted melodies and rhythms to complement the words embedded therein, radiating a sense of syncope. With the following 'The Noise Inside My Head' Shear keeps driving club lane, injecting the beat driven foundation with a stirring chorus. It is about turning your demons into something useful, using the terror they give you every day and especially at night to sort of maintain your humanity. The melancholy-drenched 'Outsider dwells in organic sounds and emphasises on Shears soulful vocals quivering with fear of taking the next step and what consequences might come with tearing walls down that have been up for so long "I could tear them down, but I'm afraid of what is on the other side" 'Darkflow' is a picture of visual music. It's like you can feel the infernal powers of an undertow dragging you along, while you're fighting for your life trying to hold on just a little more to see the light again someday.

The spherical take-off of 'Automation' pretty much contradicts its mechanical soul, if something like that can exist at all. On this one, Shear intentionally uses a robotic effect on its vocals to be a sign of the improving degree of mechanization in every aspect of our daily lives. Doubts take root inside the protagonist's mind on 'The Other Side Of The Wall' and a paralyzing feeling takes hold, making you die from the inside if it remains there long enough. 'Otherness' concludes the album with a ballad-like type of song with a clear-cut organic approach to drumming. But it's clearly the melodies, dominating the entire composition and whose repercussion keeps ringing in your mind long after the song has faded. The limited edition of the album, being released simultaneously, will include another CD holding two bonus tracks and a bunch of remix. Alternative packaging included

A conclusion however shouldn't be about the packaging, rather about the content which in this case is stunning. I do think of 'Compass' as a great album. But on 'Bruise' Tom Shear manages to bring everything straight to the point. It is an entirely different experience and feeling, listening to this. The album covers a variety of stylistic influences but always bear distinctive hallmarks.


01. Crosstalk - 4:42
02. The Last Mistake - 4:56
03. Over & Out - 4:10
04. The Noise Inside My Head - 4:17
05. Outsider - 5:34
06. Darkflow - 5:36
07. Automaton - 5:04
08. The Other Side of the Wall - 4:24
09. Talk Me Down - 5:23
10. Otherness - 4:43


Tom Shear

Website /

Cover Picture

a23 bruise


Music: 9
Sound: 9
Extras: -
Total: 9 / 10

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