Matt FanaleMadison, WI has a disproportionate amount of electronic artists to it's population, some big like national and int'l supastars Stromkern, and some smaller and up and coming like Stochastic Theory(www.stochastictheory.com) and State 4. Luckily, or should I say FINALLY, one of our near-legendary “up and comers” has gotten their due. That band is NULL DEVICE(www.nulldevice.com). After years of local and sporadic national support(San Francisco's been good to them, as well), Ohio's NILAIHAH RECORDS(www.nilaihah.com), home of The Azoic and Fiction 8, was smart enough to grab this duo, known for their progressive synthpop, passionate vocals and intelligent lyrics. Eric Oehler and Eric Goedken were previously heralded in such publications as Belgium's SIDE-LINE Magazine, and now American audiences can experience the new sounds of ND in full force.
Null Device's influences on 'Sublimation' are extensive, and hardly limited to the synth genre. While most synth sounds like the recycled dance music of the 80's gay club scene(i.e. a bunch of shitty Erasure ripoffs) with equally lame vox, ND's songs of love, loneliness, desolation and desperation strive and evoke strains of Depeche Mode and Pet Shop Boys, while at the same time maintaining a singular vision separating ND from such groups. This is no knock-off. This is no wannabe. This is New Synth. This is What We've Been Waiting For.
Operating stylistically way past current peers, ND employs the use of traditional synth lines with modern two-step, drum n' bass, trip-hop, classical and electro. Songs such as opener “Footfalls” follow current dancefloor trends with rich, sultry beats and powerful sing-along lyrics, then moves quickly to “Call of the Rose,” with it's dn'b/two-step stagger rhythms. The chill “How” and dancefloor favorite “Blindsighted” follow, moving onto personal favorite “The Sad Truth,” proving lyrically that ND can be as effective with relative lyrical simplicity, and feels reminiscent of the classic 'Black Celebration'-era Depeche Mode. The highly requested and gorgeous “Word & Deed” and heartbreaking “If Only For A While” presents the deep trauma of isolation, and the disc finishes off with a surprisingly lush and fun synth-adaptation of The Smiths “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out” Then we have the two remixes, one by ND themselves and one by cohort J Ned Kirby of Stromkern, whose “Western Skies” mix of “Footfalls” seems to mix their own hit “Night Riders” with ND's already catchy track, making for a satisfying darker dance mix.
ND isn't always as easy(or grating) to listen to as the manfactured EBM/Synth crap out there these days. This is intelligent music, people. They don't use presets, and they aren't a 4-on-the-floor machine. Every song isn't a dance classic and shouldn't be, but, like the more accessible experimental fare of Radiohead, Bjork or Tool, musically powerful tracks can be appreciated without some throbbing 4-4 beat or a massive gee-tar hook. You'll hear sounds and rhythms from ND that make you go “Hey, that's cool. I don't think I've heard that yet,” opposed from “Shit, there's -Insert Famous Synth Weenie Here- Swipe #3126” Null Device's 'Sublimation' is a much needed re-evaluation of the genre, infusing it with a breath of new life and seamlessly combining a zillion styles into a cohesive whole. Buy it. Worship the fucking thing. Have babies to it. They may end up being moody babies, yes, but at least you can brag that you were listening to something GOOD instead of the latest Nelly disc.
The boys of Null Device should be proud, as they've done something most synth acts can't– they've made synth interesting again. Kudos to Nilaihah for recognizing the talent, and congratulations to those brave souls intelligent enough to buy the disc and see what they've been missing for entirely too long.
There will be a release party for 'Sublimation' at Inferno Nightclub on July 30th. DJ NULL(Eric O.) and the lovely DJ ELECTRIQUE(www.clubelectrique.com) will be presiding over the beats, and giveaways courtesy of Nilaihah Records. Come on out, y'all.