Artist: Various Artists
Title: We Are Electric: Gary Numan Revisited
Genre: Alternative / Compilation
Release Date: 15th December 2018
Label: Wave Tension Records
GARY NUMAN has had, and still has, an extraordinary career. Beloved across multiple genres, rightly hailed as a pioneer and major influence on any number of bands and artists, he has negotiated a road so rocky it’s a miracle his tires hadn’t popped for good three decades ago. Arriving on a whoosh of spooky sci-fi synths and robotic vocals, he rapidly rose to phenomenal heights in the early eighties, before discovering saxophone, shedding the mystique and forgetting how to write a decent tune. After an age in the wilderness, occasionally putting out sub-standard music with little direction or ambition, he emerged black-clad, leather and bondage attired, and promoting a gothic-industrial guitar-led sound that was almost instantly successful and saw his popularity begin to climb once more. His early work remembered and reassessed, his new songs and direction much admired, it was suddenly okay to love GARY NUMAN again - just best to forget that tricky decade in the middle.
So here we have a tribute of sorts - seven bands paying homage to and interpreting some classic GARY NUMAN songs. And it’s the interpretations that make this an interesting little diversion. AGENT SIDE GRINDER are almost scarily similar in sound to the original here with ‘I’m An Agent’, even down to the wonky synth sounds, but ASH CODE tackle ‘Down In The Park’ like, well, ASH CODE. They’ve jollied it up a bit and added some skittering percussion and it works well, retaining its integrity but sounding like a whole new song at times. Early fan favourite ‘Metal’ is reduced to a hushed, much softer overall sound by SHAD SHADOWS but loses none of its eerie charm, and ‘Complex’ becomes a thing of icy beauty in the hands of BOX AND THE TWINS.
Brave to tackle the two biggest songs in the GARY NUMAN canon, but a compilation without ‘Cars’ and ‘Are Friends Electric?’ would feel like a cop-out. SUIR slow the former right down to a sinister pulse, giving it an added menace that suits it. The latter is rendered almost unrecognisable, taken apart and rebuilt, and to be fair, what else could be done with a song that many would see as untouchable. Tumbling synths, handclaps, spoken word only and a driving and confident reworking, credit to SYNTHS VERSUS ME for pulling this off. Which leaves the ubiquitous THEN COMES SILENCE to round things off with relatively recent GARY NUMAN single ‘My Name Is Ruin’. It works well, the dark swirl and exotic eastern undercurrent still present, the vocals similar but not aping, the music restrained and bulging with foggy atmospherics.
As these things go, this is a real gem of an album, a fitting tribute by some genuinely interesting bands. Of course if you want the originals, head to the great man himself. But for an intelligent and varied approach to some of his best songs, this is a good place to lose yourself for an hour or two.
01. I’m An Agent – Agent Side Grinder
02. Down In The Park – Ash Code
03. Metal – Shad Shadows
04. Complex – Box And The Twins
05. Cars – SUIR
06. Are Friends Electric – Synths Versus Me
07. My Name Is Ruin – Then Comes Silence
Agent Side Grinder, Ash Code, Shad Shadows, Box And The Twins, SUIR, Synths Versus Me, Then Comes Silence