Thought certainly ain't a band you can meet everyday, just because it's
quite rare to find 2 people dedicating so many efforts to the recording,
release and promotion of an album nowadays without losing an ounce of
inspiration. I've always been convinced that when you don't have much
time to experiment on behalf of label deadline schedules, and when you
don't have any chance to risk cos if you fail the label will drop you,
then it becomes hugely unlikely to survive and stand out. Add that every
developed country produces thousands of rock CDs or vinyls every year,
and then you'll get a picture why there were great bands in the 70's
and 80's, whereas the resting years onwards just allowed a few good
bands but hardly any legends and very few unforgettable songs entered
the book of classics.
Yet, there are some trying to achieve the status of wonder CD of the
year, and Michigan's duo's come back seems to be one of these, and luckily
most of all - a memorable record including a handful of compositions
pleasant to be played again even in the far future. Just admit it, how
many pieces from your CDography were listened to again this year? Not
many indeed, and "Based on Actual Events" owing to
manifold qualities present at the same time definitely shan't get covered
with dust like most of your collection, trust me!
12 tracks narrating a story about the mysterious disappearance of an
unforgattable individual, 'the Timid', a recluse about to lose his mental
soundness, pushed by an ever-growing depression; a real potential suicide,
hoping to be reborn into a memoryless world giving the miserable bloke
a second chance. Now, the possibilities are 2: either Stacey has telepathic
powers, or she lived similar experiences in her own life like mine,
however I feel this character quite autobiographical and that's another
point in favor of her. Even if one may have slight different interpretations
while reading the lyrics, one sees that the chap's life doesn't end
well as one would expect, and that reflects the 2-piece's life vision:
The kick-off is given by "Through Crowded Rooms" mixing
dark-wave, metal, industrial and electronica, with Stacey Nelson's voice,
now sweet and magnetic, on other occasions hovering and quavering; to
be cited the short funeral keyboards break, but keep in mind that during
all the 53 minutes this instrument is never a frill and on the contrary
plays an important role in the sound economy, differently from most
Based on a lively programming, "Sidewalks" lulls you
with Stacey's swinging vocals, pulsating bass lines, making me think
of a hybrid between Evanescence and Lacuna Coil, among the others.
In the elaborated "By the Time You Read This" Stacey's
first vocals are close to Skunk Anansie's, but when the programming
starts they change and are layered on male vocals in the background;
the sanguiness of rock guitars is fused with the coldness of the programmed
drums, the crawling and obsessive keys melt with penetrating riffs,
while the vocals do sound dramatical in the refrain, one of my favorites.
Another highlight of the CD is "Umbrella", most Dead
Can Dance-oriented; this is a masterpiece, nevertheless wholly different
from the previous song, where Stacey's voice is angelic and melancholic
at the same time, accompanied by only a piano and a light programmed
percussion (or maybe just a synth). I wouldn't be surprised at all if
the video matched with this song would make a go of it, as U.T. proved
they pay attention to every single aspect of their project, and that's
a rewarding policy 90 times outa 100. The clip was professionally shot
with a steadycam in particularly suggestive places, especially a big
wood during fall. Easy and effective as shown in the DVD making-of.
The follower's called "Probabilities" and borrows a
helluva hard beats dear to Nine Inch Nails, while the vocals are as
shining as the bass notes; danceable but not commercial tout-court;
Stacey used dubbed vocals here, and reminds me of Lacuna Coil's Cristina
Scabbia's. The programming proves to be heavy, while the 6-string sounds
are strongly modern metal.
"Evening" touches quality pop-rock shores, with the
black-haired goddess seducing me with her catty hooks; the chorus and
the riffing are real mind-penetrating, so that I feel like a mouse in
the clutches of the unmerciful Pied Piperess from Kalamazoo. The recording
and the mixing would be excellent even for an unselfreleased act, tho
I'm sure they're not enough to justify the siren's effect such a song
has on me.
Hypnotic is the drumming at the beginning of "Don't Stop Raindrop",
using very 80's keyboards sounds, and alternating it with electrically
nervous structures; multi-instrumentalist and co-leader Joe Kiser turns
this song from an ordinary one to an efficient one thanks to some Goblin-like
keyboards notes suitable for an auteur horror flick. Simply wonderful
the words of "The Order of Detail", the Gathering-influenced
vocals and the piano notes, bringing to a climax, making me think of
the lightest Evanescence, and then to a dynamical break; before the
initial strophe is re-used, the song remains close to gothic metal coordinates.
Unfinished Thought own several potential singles to choose from this
record, and "Perfectly Still" belongs to that group.
If you liked "Mandylion", you'll drool for this song,
although I must admit there's more, like the odd parts with overdubbed
vocal parts (all female like in all the CD), far from the Dutch act's
An arpeggio opens "The Timid", the longest track of
all, slightly employing Pink Floydian guitars and mellow keyboards;
it seems to me this is the only track with a human drummer, but the
point is that this is the most complete composition of U.T., representing
almost all their shades; it's a soft song, yet not banal at all. I'm
convinced that even tho you're knocking on 20, you'll dig this kinda
songwriting, notwithstanding it's straightforward and not aggressive.
Fervent is the right adjective to qualify "Silhouette",
gifted with its winding drum 'n' bass moves a là NIN, or trip
hop a là Portishead; once again Stacey doesn't miss a nanosecond
in her beats, and besides the song's effect is doubled if you listen
to that with a serious subwoofer.
Thrills and hearts broken the results for the closer, "Coming
Back"; you can really feel the sadness of the piano and the
passional hopelessness sung here, and sustained by deep lyrics; there're
also some violin lines - probably synthetized - to reinforce this atmosphere
before a ringing phone, the name Lucy repeated with obsession and another
unidentified noise. A very disturbing end for a masterpiece of decay
started not happily, and alike "Umbrella", based on
the piano and Stacey's voice but without the programming.
Joe and Stacey have passed every test: to me, they're all-round pro
musicians; not only performers, but also remarkable songwriters in an
utterly creative period of their careers. It really is true that after
Evanescence's success, who even played some U.T.'s songs live, this
genre has become extremely profitable in Uncle Sam's land. But still
their artistic side is decidedly larger than the business one as yet.
Listening to the duo is an experience that will make your hearts emotion,
bleed, freeze and finally wither and implode into themselves. What makes
my day is their perfectionism, absolutely needed for a music like this,
in which moral decadence and despondency are the very goals.
When you love music, people notice that. Now I can only hope to see
them live in Italy as a 6-piece due to the obvious recourse to session
musicians. Buy or feel responsible if mainstream keeps on force-feeding
you with soulless mersh.
MARKUS GANZHERRLICH - 4/6/04