Thursday, October 23, 2014
Report to the Dance Floor: RxGF's"Any Other Way"
"Any Other Way" is the 3rd album from this Seattle based project. Producer John Morgan Reilly, is the brain child behind RxGF or "Radioactive X Girlfriend". In 2013 Reilly was lucky enough to find 20 year old vocalist Angeline Schaaf, who has a personality to her voice that radiates a strong charisma rather than her just doing a Siouxsie impersonation. Sure Siouxsie is an influence her, but so is a ton of post - Nine Inch Nails electronic acts. Past RxGF lineups have included supporting musical contributions by prolific co-producer Jonathan Plum, Dave Rosser (Twilight Singers, Afghan Whigs), but this new collaboration seems the most promising. Schaaf's vocal lines have smart hooks to them. Some of the electronic elements might come across at times like something from an A Perfect Circle re-mix, but the guitar sound is killer. It has the perfect blend of effects. The fuzzed out bass lines aren't shabby either, but does add to that late 90's sound.They even hit a dirty Lords Of Acid feel on "Flesh and Bone", that even holds elements of Lady Gaga is the weird sultry drug pout Schaaf's vocal persona develops in the more pop slanted moments. The quick bursts of male vocals are more Mindless Self Indulgence in their obnoxious oddness.
"Anidote" also carries pop bombast to it , but in more of a Kmfdm manner meets the weird anime influenced pop that's so huge in Japan.The beat however carries a bang similar to that of the Bjork's "Army of Me". The Lady Gaga feel returns on "Tombstone Soiree". The Siouxsie elements here are more from the stand point of the darker lyrics being layered over a more dance floor friendly background. She does flirt with the New Orleans swing of Concrete Blonde in the way the melody flows. They dip into a more acid jazz like groove on "Never Felt So Good". The mood is no darker than say Massive Attack, her layered vocals are an effective tool that she uses sparingly making them more effective. The backing vocals on this song remind me of Madonna's"Justify My Love". Wandering into an almost kraut rock exploration, as if it's become the soundtrack to a lunar landing. Once they venture over the five minute mark they broaden the expanse of sound. This allows for more experimental use of samples. I do begin to wonder if they are going to give way to dub-step on "the Dying Grace of Machines" , but they resist instead launching into some weird plastic techno that sounds like if Aqua wrote a song for the Blade Runner sound track. The male vocals here are not one of the albums strong points. They come across more Thomas Dolby than industrial.There is an interesting break at the three and a half minute mark, before the song builds dynamically into something more akin Nine inch Nails synth heavy work.
They drop things down to a very organic feeling with "The Hit". The male vocals return with a more "Mechanical Animals" era Marilyn Manson type approach. He takes a smoother tone where the chorus would be. The more rock no roll vocal , make you wonder if this time would be perhaps more interestingly spent hearing Schaaf's interpretation.It not that the melody doesn't eventually find it's way, it's just her approach might be a smoother fit. "Things that go bang " is sample driven techno. The samples taken a heavy handed political approach, which Ministry obviously set the bar for. Here the synth more takes a quirky android on parade role. The beat is a simple hammering, not unlike the more "Army of Me" styled beats they employed earlier in the album, but they work with the driving nature of this song. Some of these more experimental moments would have sat better interspersed among the album's poppier moments as it sounds like it loses focus when clustered together at the end. It almost sounds like an entirely different project."Kontrollier Die Kontrollierenden" continues using the males vocals, it's like Rammenstein in a higher register. Lyrically it's more interesting to hear them rage against the machine, but the delivery comes across like Roger Waters collaborating with Jonathan Davis of Korn.
The instrumentally dominated dance track trend continues with "Flow". They use some interesting sound to off set another, but it doesn't really follow any structure , which in some sense is the nature of dance music to flow like the waves, so it lives up to it's title. Though the turn it takes comes across a little like these songs are filler for the Schaaf sung songs that were the meat of the matter. The album closes with a re-mix of one of the bands earlier singles "Belladonna Dream". the song is surprisingly gentle and airy. Almost like a Sarah Mclaughlin song, in the way it falls back into it self.
This album hits more than it misses, finding a good dancey spot that might sometimes take itself too seriously with political undertones , considering these guys are a far cry from Frontline Assembly or Ministry in terms of being industrial, in fact the closest they come is somewhere in the neighborhood as KMFDM's more light hearted moments. I think without question the songs with Schaaf at the forefront are the strongest moments, but the album has it's heart in the right place and look forward to hearing what Reilly and Schaaf's partnership brings, as it sounds as if their best work is yet to come, but in the meantime enjoy where they are at.