Artist: Solar Fake
Title: Enjoy Dystopia
Release Date: 12th February 2021
Label: Out of Line
Put the needle down or press “play” and there you have it: The perfect opener ‘At Least We’ll Forget’ kicks off a simply superb SOLAR FAKE party boasting and blasting with electro excellence at its finest. ‘Enjoy Dystopia’ is exactly the dark and glorious e-fest that fans have been craving and waiting for since the last release ‘You Win. Who Cares?’ (2018). Truth be told, the pretty high expectations of all Solarheads and Shadowplayers* have been even exceeded. Mastermind Sven Friedrich has been working 436 days on the new record giving his best. As always, there was no room for “any compromises” whatsoever. And from February 12th onwards, listeners may be blown away by the impressive outcome every time they put on SF’s latest record titled ‘Enjoy Dystopia’.
Fans, old and new, will definitely enjoy SOLAR FAKE’s dystopia. Truly, you won’t find any fillers. The new piece presents ten killer tracks that are a celebration of the signature SF sound: Thanks to Sven’s creative compositions, his stellar vocal performance, a top-notch production, and gripping lyrics which express exactly what many must be feeling living in dystopian times like these, it is a sound that stands out in the electronic realms of the dark scene. And what’s more, ‘Enjoy Dystopia’ is defying dull repetition and there’s definitely no resting on one’s laurels when it comes to SOLAR FAKE. The band takes it to the next level by creating novel constellations and adding exciting sparks to their cosmos - it’s thrilling and so damn satisfying to hear gifted artists perfecting their craft.
The initial synth sounds of the first tune ‘At Least We’ll Forget’ immediately put a smile on the listener’s face. SOLAR FAKE is back! Who knows, maybe this intro will also become the future “let’s get the party started!” cue at live shows, which are of course truly missed in our COVID-19-days. Together with their fans from all over the world Sven Friedrich, André Feller and Jens Halbauer celebrated the record release live on air this time by listening to the new songs on SecondRadio (www.secondradio.de) and having a chat during the special live-stream. Back to the song. The first tune perfectly combines both Solar sides, the harmonic and tuneful right next to their harder harshness. A melodic bridge with lovely vocals leads to a way more aggressive chorus with lots of stomp. One can easily imagine the future live crowd singing and screaming along while raising a fist as the singer gives voice to the lyrical I that is asking the addressee to piss off with his / her destructive tendencies, to put it simply. “You want destruction, so kill yourself instead / You’re not my fault, at least we’ll forget / You’re my dysfunction, get out of my head.”
The first and last synth sounds of ‘I Despise You’ are framing the tune nicely and will probably remind you of ‘All the Things You Say’ from the band’s fourth album ‘Another Manic Episode’ (2015). It’s a darn good composition and there’s a beautiful C part with some piano. I quite enjoy that many lines are not end-stopped but carry on into the following ones, so that the meaning keeps on flowing as the lines go on. As always, the act is not only delivering high-class music but also meaningful and thought-provoking lyrics that are at times poignant and in-your-face as well as heartbreakingly beautiful, even though Sven has often humbly declared that he is “no poet.” Many devoted listeners might disagree here, for there are always truly well-crafted lines to be found and it's no secret that SF songs are not just some carefree happy-go-lucky dance tunes, but actually have meaning. So, it’s no surprise SOLAR FAKE are once again presenting a perfect total package from the first notes to the last lyric line including the entire artwork around it. “And I watch my steps, creeping carefully / Make my frozen heart beat in your frequency.”
Heavy beats, deep bass and unusual minimalistic electronics introduce ‘This Pretty Life’. An amazing hook and oh so catchy chorus called for being the first single release. The vibes of the verses are somehow reminiscent of SHE WANTS REVENGE and the laid-back music emphasises the lyrics that are dealing with a chemical-induced, egomaniac, ironically speaking “pretty life” that is just “faked” and a “shattered vow”. Every track on the album displays some kind of a dystopian vision of our here and now. And in this one humankind is “sifting through the ruins, crushed by themselves.” You get the picture. “So will you come with me and stay / Or step aside and clear the way.” On we go with ‘Arrive Somewhere’ since it’s high time to just get up and out of here. However, the question remains, is there even “a chance we could arrive somewhere” or are we doomed to fall? Taking a close look at the cover artwork you might notice the shadow of single figure who has managed to pass across the high barbed wire fence and the run-down gates with the stop sign, gazing long at some distant lights at the horizon. Music-wise the mid-tempo tune fittingly spreads a pretty nostalgic, melancholic mood.
Then, taking us from one highlight to the other, there’s not only a complete change of atmosphere but also language. The gritty ‘Es Geht Dich Nichts An’ (transl. ‘None of your business’) is the title of SOLAR FAKE’s very first song in German. My first association when hearing Sven’s sprechgesang style in the verse was the act STENDAL BLAST; maybe due to the immediacy of the German language (to my ears) and the witty lyrics. The verses present quotes of empty phrases like “pull yourself together, could be worse, it will pass, why don’t you wanna talk about it, just come back down, don’t be like that...” which unsympathetic and ignorant people stereotypically direct at more sensitive or actually even troubled or depressed individuals. Needless to say, that these people simply talking in platitudes aren’t helping at all, but actually making it worse. The refrain is from the opposite perspective as the exhausted and angry speaker asks to be left alone along the lines of “mind your own frigging business.” This new raging smasher may stand next to old fan-favourite ‘Parasites’ from the ‘Frontiers’ album (2011), so you can imagine also the live version of track #5 to be a blast.
The nostalgic and at the same time up-beat sounding ‘It’s Who You Are’ is the next tune in line to convince us of SOLAR FAKE’s sweet catchiness and dance floor filling qualities. It’s been chosen as the second single release and in the music video the three musicians overact the image that their podcast listeners might have of their private lives: Painter André is sleeping in his atelier, Jeans has the cleaning bug polishing his bathroom and the rehearsal room, and Sven is making some coffee, working on his laptop, and walking the dog. The following ‘Trying Too Hard’ conjures up a little MESH moment before the verses begin and then we get a good portion of multi-layered “grime” from SOLAR FAKE. You’ll hear more lovely piano in the C part and a cool build-up before the chorus rises again inviting us to sing along. The mighty ‘Implode’ is a sonic treat full of electronic ear candy. A really interesting and somewhat dramatic song that’s reaching a crescendo with the screamed words “You’re gonna weep and die alone.” On the bonus acoustic CD ‘Masked’ you will find a mind-blogging arrangement of ‘Implode’ that highlights the drama even more and impresses the listener with its cinematic or even musical like style. My best compliments! “Then you implode again / With every word you kept in mind / ‘Cause it’s hard enough / To duck down from explosions everywhere.”
The calmer ‘Just Leave It’ is a bittersweet melodic tune you easily fall in love with. And it perfectly leads to the concluding song beautifully titled ‘Wish Myself Away’. “I feel like I’m high above the earth / And distance means that my voice remains unheard.” The ethereal and soulful ballad sweeps you off your feet right from the beginning with its spherical soundscape. While this heartfelt piece deals with loneliness and alienation it picks and lifts you up sky high and getting lost in all of it offers a wonderful way of escapism. A sorrowful, simply sublime song bringing ‘Enjoy Dystopia’ to a close - for now. “Whenever I tried to climb up the wall / To catch a clearer glimpse, I was not afraid to fall [...] And if I fall again / Then I’m inclined to stay right down.”
The record came out in several formats: as a CD, a 2-CD Digipak, a limited 2-LP, and as a strictly limited fan box containing the digipak version, the exclusive bonus acoustic CD titled ‘Masked’, and several SF goodies. On the deluxe edition SOLAR FAKE continue with two incredible cover versions: Finding the all-time classic and beloved love metal hymn ‘Join Me In Death’ by HIM on the track list might have been a little surprise for some listeners. But if there's anyone to cover a piece by Ville Valo & Co it’s Sven Friedrich. To put it briefly, the SF version of ‘Join Me’ is to die for. The second splendid “solarfication” is the cover of PIXIES’ signature song ‘Where Is My Mind’. A brilliant Electro version of a timeless song that always receives a burst of applause at SOLAR FAKE's live gigs. Now we have it on tape as well. Wonderful.
Also, both thumbs up for the following twelve remixes, which are all exciting in their own way. All acts successfully put their mark on these new SF tunes. Personally, I have to highlight FAELDER’s darkly rocking NDH version of ‘Es geht dich nichts an’, the truly impressive interpretation of ‘This Pretty Life’ by IRIS, the guitar-heavy, ZERAPHINE reminiscent ‘I Despise You’ by NAN and the classical doom ballad version of ‘Just Leave It’ by THE LORD OF THE LOST. Finally, there’s CD number three, the bonus opus ‘Masked’. Obviously, the limited fan box is a must-have for SF die-hards and lovers of handmade music. Thus, the box has been sold out before the actual release date. If you couldn’t get your hands on the box, I highly recommend to get a digital copy of ‘Masked’ at one of your trusted mp3 stores. Seven very special arrangements will rock off your socks thanks to the creative talent and endeavours of Dirk Riegner (CALEIDOSCOP, PETER HEPPNER) at the keys, guitarist Norman Selbig (ZERAPHINE), and SOLAR FAKE comrades André Feller at bass and Jens “Jeans” Halbauer at drums. Without analysing every single tune let me just assure you that the exceptional piano and acoustic masterpieces will get under your skin for the arrangements are larger than life and let Sven’s magnificent vocals shine. ‘Masked’ is outstanding. Breath-taking. Stunningly beautiful, leaving you speechless.
So, we’ll just say: Congratulations to SOLAR FAKE on their absolutely stellar sixth studio album! The fact that the record entered the official German album charts on rank 4 was widely celebrated by the band, colleagues, and fans. Are you a seeker of dark, driving, diverse, all in all, devilishly good electronic music? Then you've reached your destination: ‘Enjoy Dystopia’!
*Shadowplay e.V. is the official fan club of SOLAR FAKE, ZERAPHINE and DREADFUL SHADOWS. Members can join in special fan events with the band, receive annually a printed fanzine with various gimmicks, are kept up-to-date with the latest info thanks to a newsletter, and can interact in a special Facebook group. Find more info here: http://shadowplay-fanclub.de / https://solarfake.de/fanclub
CD 1 ‘Enjoy Dystopia’
01. At Least We’ll Forget
02. I Despise You
03. This Pretty Life
04. Arrive Somewhere
05. Es Geht Dich Nichts An
06. It’s Who You Are
07. Trying Too Hard
09. Just Leave It
10. Wish Myself Away
CD2 (Deluxe Edition)
01. Join Me In Death
02. Where Is My Mind
03. Es geht dich nichts an (Faelder Remix)
04. Implode (Blutengel Remix)
05. Arrive Somewhere (Solitary Experiments Remix)
06. This Pretty Life (Iris Remix)
07. I Despise You (Massive Ego Remix)
08. Trying Too Hard (Dunkelsucht Remix)
09. At Least We’ll Forget (Backline Remix by Blood & Tears)
10. It’s who you are (Random Starlight Remix)
11. I despise you (Vintage Remix by NAN)
12. At least we’ll forget (Uplifting Emotional Mix by Anja & Alex)
13. It’s who you are (Ost+Front Remix)
14. Just leave it (Lord of the Lost Version)
CD3 ‘Masked’ (limited fan box)
01. I despise you (Piano Version)
02. This pretty life (Acoustic Version)
03. Arrive somewhere (Acoustic Version)
04. Implode (in Wonderland)
05. Just leave it (Piano Version)
06. It’s who you are (Acoustic Version)
07. Wish myself away (Acoustic Version)
Sven Friedrich – vocals, instruments
André Feller – bass, keyboards
Jens Halbauer – drums, percussion
www.solarfake.de / https://www.facebook.com/SolarFake
Total: 10 / 10