Jan 2018 07

Gary Numan - Savage (Songs from a Broken World)Gary Numan
Category: Industrial / Rock / Experimental
Album: Savage (Songs from a Broken World)
Blurb: With his latest studio album, Gary Numan looks outward to take us on a devastating journey through a world reduced to desert, where Eastern and Western cultures collide, where empathy and hope are dead, survival is supreme, and the desire for forgiveness is unfulfilled.


To state the obvious, Gary Numan has been a pioneering voice in modern music for four decades, primarily in the early electronic and new wave scenes to eventually transcending genre altogether. Always possessing a dark narrative undercurrent to his lyrics and the atmospheres he creates, he has continually forged a singular path that has now resulted in his latest album, Savage (Songs from a Broken World). A more conceptual album than some of his more recent releases, Savage retains some of the personal and introspective themes of the previous record, Splinter (Songs from a Broken Mind), and now looks outward to craft a soundtrack to a post-apocalyptic desert world succumbing to the unending cycles and ramifications of man’s incessant ignorance and folly.

“Ghost Nation” begins the album, setting the stage with such lyrics like “We live in a windswept hell where dust and death are neighbors,” and “where the horrors of our past still linger” to immediately plant images in the listener’s mind of a barren landscape where its inhabitants confront the grim reality of their own doing. Among those inhabitants is Numan taking on the role of a nomadic bard traveling the wasteland, his howling voice bearing the painful weight of the broken world, the lyrics accusatory in their indictments and observations while offering no hope or salvation. He takes on the name of vengeance and heartbreak in “My Name Is Ruin,” reminds us how we came to this desolate place in “Mercy,” and claims his place with the faithless in “Pray for the Pain You Serve.” Lines like “I’m not here to save you / I’m not your confessor / My sins alone would wake the dead” in “When the World Comes Apart” pierce with the earnest and unapologetic rancor of a man coming to terms with a circumstance not of his choosing but without denying his own culpability and calling upon all of us to accept responsibility. It’s bleak, violent, terrifying, and all too real.

Produced by his longtime associate and partner Ade Fenton, Savage is perhaps the most shrewdly polished effort in Numan’s extensive discography, the interplay of gutturally distorted guitars and bass amid shrill and keenly designed synths and drumbeats creating a symphonic wall of sound. Coldly ambient leads like those heard in “What God Intended” and “The End of Things” are sure to remind some of the earlier days of Numan’s career, albeit with a less robotic bent as they are presented with a smoother, more organic flow, while Steve Harris’ energetic punch on the guitars and Tim Slade’s on the bass in tandem with the slickly pulsating synths on a song like “When the World Comes Apart” provide that seething industrialized rock edge. Darkly engaging pianos adorn tracks like “Pray for the Pain You Serve” and “And It All Began With You,” adding a nostalgic touch as if it to remind the listener of a world that once was, while the dynamic and intricately programmed percussion adds an unhinged, almost tribal element that hints at impending peril. Topping it all are the vocals; even nearing the age of 60, Numan’s voice has lost none of its wistfully emotive force, moving seemingly without much effort from a low, sometimes almost whispered melody in the verses to an impassioned wail in the chorus as on songs like “The End of Things,” the slowly menacing and harrowing “Mercy,” and the bleak yet driving “My Name Is Ruin.”

Given the tumultuous state of the world during the album’s conception and writing, it’d be easy to assign a sociopolitical backdrop to Savage, with Numan explicitly pointing at climate change/global warming leading to desertification. Perhaps the soundtrack he and Fenton composed for John Bergin’s similarly apocalyptic animated feature From Inside in the interim between Splinter and Savage also played a part in the album’s mindset, but that would be a speculation on this writer’s part. Numan’s atheistic and anti-religious outlook also comes into play; as the inhabitants of this malign world commit terrible acts upon each other in the name of survival and self preservation, the desire for forgiveness remains amid the possibility that God is not there to hear their cries. It’s not as if Numan hasn’t espoused these views in his past material, but rarely was it so poignant and desperate as on Savage. And yet, there is some semblance of hope in this cautionary romp, with Persia Numan’s own lovely wispy voice adding a lush harmonization to her father to shine the faintest glimmer that it is for one’s family – the next generation that carries our names, learns from our mistakes, atones for our sins – that we should seek to avoid such a future. Savage (Songs from a Broken World) is an arduous and monolithic listen for its themes and high production values, but as with any dark work of art in this vein, simply must be heard lest we allow our complacency to make its prophetic fiction become a doomed reality.
Track list:

  1. Ghost Nation
  2. Bed of Thorns
  3. My Name Is Ruin
  4. The End of Things
  5. And It All Began With You
  6. When the World Comes Apart
  7. Mercy
  8. What God Intended
  9. Pray for the Pain You Serve
  10. If I Said
  11. Broken

Gary Numan
Website, Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud, YouTube
Website, Facebook, Facebook (U.S.), Twitter, Twitter (U.S.)
Purchase at:
Amazon CD (Standard)
Amazon CD (Deluxe)
Amazon MP3
Amazon Vinyl
Storming the Base CD
Storming the Base Vinyl
Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)

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