Carl JenkisonIf you're expecting some straightforward synthpop/EBM hybrid (as Nilaihah's promotion seems to suggest) then you'll be in for a bit of a shock with this release as the two Erics Oehler (vocals, synths, stringed instruments, studio geekery) & Goedken (lyrics, additional vocals, videography, quality control) present a quite an unusual set of songs that, in many places hardly sound electronic at all with lots of acoustic sounding guitars & percussion.
Equally unique is the harmonised vocal style which conjures up visions of a folk duo. This might mean that it will take one or two listens to get used to but very quickly you find yourself recognising the tunes as if they're old favourites. Although it's impossible to explain exactly how they achieve this it's a sign that they're doing something right so just listen to “I Probably Know You” or the opening “Footfalls” for proof of this. The sequencers on the latter track are on more familiar electro territory but the rhythms could quite easily accompany some easy on the ear guitar pop band. That's not to say Null Device are dull or predictable as this mixture is actually quite unique.The more synthetic rhythms of “Call Of The Rose” & the backward percussive effects of “How” do veer more towards mainstream electro music. The later 'Dancefloor Angst Mix' of “How” takes this to it's logical conclusion with a definate dancefloor orientated feel although, as ever, comparisons with anyone are still nigh on impossible.
This characteristic style is retained by the synthpop-like “Blindsighted” & even Stromkern's mix of “Footfalls” retains the integrity of the original rather than allowing J. Ned Kirby's restrained but still assertive electro structures to blot out the feel of the original.
The impressionistic soundscape of “Neverland”, which is built through a combination of whispered vox & ambient synths & the chilled trip hop of “Sacre Couer” add extra flavours to the duo's ouvre as do the sombre strings of “Word and Deed”, which benefits from some effective violin work & “If Only For A While” which gets the full string quartet treatment backing more harmonised vocals.The guitar strums add extra warmth, making for a track rich in emotion & feeling.
Also worthy of mention is the cover of The Smiths' track “There Is A Light” where Oehler gets the Morrisey drone down to a fine art & the classic lines “If a double decker bus/crashes into us” are certain to reduce even the most hard hearted cynic to tears (of laughter, most likely!!).
When so many bands are beginning to sound like close copies of one another Null Device ae certainly a refreshing change.Those who are set in their musical ways might want to approach this with caution but if you're of a slightly more adventurous frame of mind then this album might well be right up your street.