Category: Industrial / Electronic
Album: Trash Chic
Blurb: Still just as gritty and catchy as his previous outing, En Esch’s latest effort is a more experimental but equally enjoyable album that represents some of his finest production and songwriting yet.
Having successfully crowdfunded 2015’s SPÄNK, his first solo album since 1993’s Cheesy, En Esch went ahead and did it again, calling upon the fans with a PledgeMusic campaign for what would be his next effort – Trash Chic. Like the previous album, En Esch brought onboard numerous guests, familiar figures from his decades as one of industrial music’s most celebrated performers, all driven by his singular production style that brings together rock, funk, dub, soul, techno, and whatever else the man feels like. However, with Trash Chic, things take a bit more of an experimental and even conceptual turn to further ensure a dynamic listening experience that stands on its own but is still undoubtedly En Esch in the flesh.
After the intro track of static switching channels, we finally tune into the right station as a booming synth bass and a pumping dub beat kicks through the speakers, Honest Marquee’s Alison and Katrina Mack harmonizing with En Esch to make for a soulful rocker that starts Trash Chic off with a blast. More Machine Than Man’s Rob Zilla and Tasha Katrine have had a long association with En Esch, so their presence is almost a given, making for two of the album’s best tracks; “A Bullet Fires In One Direction” is a dance floor ready track that pulsates with a throbbing of synth bass and chugging guitars, while “Sucker” struts along with a bluesy cadence and guitar riff, both songs surely appeasing longtime fans who yearn for the days of En Esch’s past association with KMFDM. On that note, having coproduced the latest PIG outing, Raymond Watts shows up to lend his distinctive baritone growl to “Alles Wird Gut (Der Kicker),” the slow dub rhythms and synth solos giving this airy song an unsettling ambience befitting their vocal styles. Similarly, “Sweet Lord” marches along with a darkly monotonous helping of atonal synths and Günter Schulz’s sparse but seething guitar licks, gradually building to a miasma of industrialized gospel, Watt’s chants of “Break the silence, stop the violence” and “My sweet lord” bearing the man’s signature scathing yet sensual croon. “Drive” is an especially noteworthy track, its arpeggio sequences in tandem with Trixie Reiss’ sweet yet disturbing vocal accompaniment making for one of the album’s more offbeat yet danceable moments, while “Live and Let Live” with Erica Dilanjian’s voice and Schulz’s guitar has a bluesy, almost classic rock vibe that is simply delightful. Speaking of classic rock, the descending arpeggio that plays amid a pumping techno beat in “Super Ego” just might have been sampled from The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” the vocal track lifted from En Esch’s past collaboration with Harshrealm, repurposed after a decade for what is one hell of a dance floor track. The same can be said of other tracks like “Purge,” which is almost poppy as Mona Mur provides some vocal backup, En Esch’s energetic take on Promonium Jesters’ “Terrorist.” As stated, Trash Chic takes on a slightly conceptual turn, with the intro track, “Goldchase,” “Gendarmenmarkt,” and “The Long Haul” acting as brief vignettes of sound that act almost as chapter stops for the album’s varying moods. And then there are the more abstract tracks like “Good Morning,” featuring Vanity Beach’s Musta Jones, Leæther Strip’s stomping, smarmy remix of “Do Me,” and the darkly noisy title track as waves of synth noise and metallic beats underscoring En Esch’s guttural German growl. Concluding the album is “Requiem,” which is exactly as its title suggests, as mournful strings and synth pads merge into a haze of lush melodic melancholy… until after a moment of silence a bouncy techno beat enters.
Like SPÄNK, Trash Chic is all one could expect and desire from an En Esch album, and more; the balance of nostalgic and progressive modes that permeate each track is just further proof of the man’s creativity. While no less catchy than his previous outing, the explorations of sound and style he pursues on Trash Chic create an atmosphere that may require some patience on the part of the casual listener, while longtime fans will be immediately gripped by the familiar elements of his past work only to be thrown off balance by his flights of audio fancy… but oh, the rewards are plentiful and downright enjoyable. Put simply, Trash Chic is pure En Esch and represents some of the artist’s finest production and songwriting efforts yet.