Category: Industrial / Darkwave / Rock
Album: Consumed by the Signal
Blurb: A dynamic and singular blend of electro-pop and darkwave melodic sensibilities with industrial production and sound design, topped off by intelligent songwriting.
“What future?” So simple a statement is rarely so palpable and so relevant, and while warnings against dystopia are hardly uncommon in the electro/industrial scene, they never seem to lose their potency as technology continues to threaten to overtake humanity’s grip on reality and sanity. Such has been the focus of Drowning Susan’s music for over 15 years, as Mark Gerster has taken the band through varying lineups and levels of development, with Consumed by the Signal being the band’s latest outing, featuring three tracks that continue to beg the question of just what humanity has in store for itself.
Indeed, the title track is a straightforward assault on the current state of the world, addressing society’s obsession with avoiding the larger problems of the world as we “worship our screens,” “repeating their message, re-tweeting demands,” and “let money supersede.” Set to a slow rhythm of ominous and atmospheric synths, the song moves at a languid pace to allow the lyrics to insinuate themselves into the listener’s psyche by way of Gerster’s juxtaposition of emotional croon and robotic menace. The original guitar version is also included, offering a more forceful take that somehow feels less poignant than the opening album version, demonstrating Drowning Susan’s production savvy and dynamism – the band knows when to let restraint and ambience prevail over aggression. The same can be said of “Attack the Day,” the other original track on Consumed by the Signal, its slow but powerful rhythms underscoring a harmonious and rather catchy ascending chord progression. If “Consumed by the Signal” was a warning, then “Attack the Day” is the call to arms, but despite the somewhat militant tone of the lyrics, the song is more anthemic and hopeful. Finally, there is the cover of Nine Inch Nails’ “Ringfinger,” replacing the danceable beats and dark catchiness of the original version with a more sinister and seductive vibe that allows the subject matter to coincide with the overall atmosphere of the EP, further enhanced by the presence of Violette Syn’s backup vocals.
Rounding out Consumed by the Signal are a series of remixes, with Kidder’s entrancing versions of “Ringfinger” and “Consumed by the Signal” notably offering the more dance floor friendly versions that, thankfully, do not detract from the songs’ dark atmospheres, while DJ Martini’s glitch-laden TripHop remix of “Attack the Day” lives up to its title with pulsating synths, slow breaks, and a trickling guitar line that makes for one of the album’s more disturbing but also relaxing moments. The DS Nervous Habit mix of “Ringfinger” is certainly punchier with its warbling synth effects and strong percussive breaks, bringing Violette Syn’s vocals more to the fore to emphasize an almost jazzier feel, while the Primitive Race version of “Consumed by the Signal” closes the album out on a high note with heavier beats and some acerbic synth and guitar effects to give the track an almost dubstep feel.
How this band is not a better known entity is no mystery as Gerster and his cohorts have spent the better part of the last 15 years honing their craft, culminating in a truly singular sound that is quite identifiable as Drowning Susan. As a result, Consumed by the Signal is an exceptionally good EP that not only shows how far Drowning Susan has come, but how much further than band is capable of traveling.