H.A.L.O.

Immanent

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Recorded under the name H.A.L.O. with Orjan Ornkloo and Thomas Hedqvist, Immanent was Wire bassist Graham Lewis' first solo album of the '90s. Although his early-'80s experimental work with Bruce Gilbert -- particularly Dome -- tended to be abstruse, by the time of his late-'80s releases as He Said, Lewis was skirting around the margins of mainstream synth pop. Extending the electronic tendencies of He Said, Immanent finds Lewis' pop sensibility developed and refined. This is especially evident on the hypnotic "Eclipsed" and the atmospheric "Skip the Sausage (At the Terminal Hotel)," which features one of Lewis' humorous and unsettling narratives. More sonically eccentric is his Captain Beefheart tribute, "So Sick and Tired (On a Diet of Too Much)," to which Bruce Gilbert contributes guitar. Although Lewis' familiar, slightly surreal perspective is apparent on Immanent, several tracks display a political consciousness that hasn't been as obvious in his previous work. The burgeoning technological environment of the '90s is a broad concern here, and "Health Warning (Act Today)" addresses the resurgence of the extreme right in Europe. In addition to exploring new themes, Immanent is also an eclectic dance album. Some tracks have a funky, bass-heavy, dub-inflected groove ("Two Too State") and others a pumping house feel ("The Outlook Is Exotic"), but Lewis' forays into techno/industrial territory are the most striking. Whereas earlier projects with Bruce Gilbert were industrial in a minimal, clanging-machinery-and-banging-pipes way, Immanent is industrial in a more rock, Nine Inch Nails way. Two standout examples are the frantic, apocalyptic "The Fear Grows" and the searing, quasi-metal "Answer to Your Question," with its abrasive noise bursts and uncharacteristically fraught vocals. Immanent was the first in a series of Lewis collaborations with Swedish artists; the late '90s saw a flurry of activity with He Said Omala, Ocsid, and Hox.

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