Dec 2013 24

Gary Numan - Splinter (Songs from a Broken Mind)Gary Numan
Category: Industrial / Rock
Album: Splinter (Songs from a Broken Mind)
Stars: 4
Blurb: This pioneer of dark electronic music tackles some of his bleakest emotional moments with some of the most vigorous music he’s yet created.


To disregard Gary Numan’s influence on modern electronic and industrial music would be a gross injustice; known to mainstream audiences for such dark ‘80s new wave hits as “Cars” and “Down in the Park,” those early pop explorations hinted at the inherent darkness of his musical method, eventually manifesting in his work since the mid-‘90s. With Splinter (Songs from a Broken Mind), his first album of wholly new material since 2006’s Jagged, Numan continues to forge a bleak path of simultaneous introversion and introspection, living up to the album’s subtitle as his lyrics reveal the pain of emotional breakdown. Issues of depression, mid-life crisis, parenthood, and a troubled marriage all come to the fore as Numan creates a vicious soundtrack to his turmoil with a vitality usually reserved for younger acts, tempered with a thoughtfulness that only comes from experience.

Since his industrialized reinvention, Numan’s sound has retained the dark electronics of his past, but offset by a furious wash of distortedly mid-range guitars, which created a rather rusted effect befitting the atmosphere. On Splinter, this sound is given a sharper edge; the rust has been steadily chipped away to reveal a discernible if only subtle layer of polish. This is immediately apparent on the virulent electronic march of “I Am Dust,” starting the album off with suitably mechanical and menacing vigor, Numan’s delightfully paranoid android inflection atop the ghostly ambient passages and conservative guitars soaring to beautiful heights. Throughout the album, one can hear the artist embracing several understated refinements to his sound that began with 2011’s Dead Son Rising, giving Splinter a decidedly modern and clean sound; from the rubbery synth bass of “Who Are You” to the orchestral flourishes of “The Calling,” the slithery dance beats and funky cadences of “Love Hurt Bleed,” and onto the slight elements of glitch on “We’re the Unforgiven.” The staccato rhythms and ominous synthesizers that lace “Everything Comes Down to This,” complete with Numan singing “I don’t know how this is going to end” and “I don’t know how we let things go this far,” make for a slow but satisfying helping of gritty industrial angst that also deceptively allows for a glimmer of optimism. Such is also the case with “Lost,” a lovely piano driven confessional that despite its sullen and saddening tone indicate a desire for reconciliation and catharsis, as well as the uplifting concluding track “My Last Day,” beginning with a quiet and somber piano and tittering noise backdrop and building up to a boisterous display of percussive and orchestral bombast.

Drawing inspiration from one of his own devotees, Trent Reznor, Gary Numan’s music since 1994’s Sacrifice has drawn many comparisons to Nine Inch Nails; with former NIN guitarist Robin Finck lending his skills to several songs on Splinter, this synergy of styles is taken even further. Indeed, many will find the bleak ambience and wrenching overdriven textures of Splinter to be a fine fit alongside such sonic brethren as The Downward Spiral or The Fragile, which may lead some to question if Numan is drawing less from the well of his own ideas and more from those he inspired. Of course, in such a case, this writer asks “so what?” The exchange only serves to augment the strengths exhibited by both artists, with Numan not dwelling on the past but making peace with it and looking forward, both musically and emotionally. Songs from a Broken Mind though they may be, Gary Numan exhibits great resolve with this album, remaining as relevant as ever in the pantheon of electronic and industrial music.
Track list:

  1. I Am Dust
  2. Here in the Black
  3. Everything Comes Down to This
  4. The Calling
  5. Splinter
  6. Lost
  7. Love Hurt Bleed
  8. A Shadow Falls on Me
  9. Where I Can Never Be
  10. We’re the Unforgiven
  11. Who Are You
  12. My Last Day

Gary Numan Website
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Cooking Vinyl Website
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Mortal Records
Machine Music USA, Inc.
Purchase at:
Amazon CD
Amazon MP3
Amazon Vinyl
Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)

1 Comment

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