Night of the Brain

Wear This World Out

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Cristian Vogel's turn toward rock & roll isn't per se surprising (and the roots of a lot of techno and IDM performers in rock are often downplayed to start with), but Night of the Brain is a slightly odd project in the end, based on the quartet's debut album. Vogel takes the lead role vocally and instrumentally, with a danker variant of post-punk guitar to the fore while he sings in a slightly disaffected, slightly in the pocket fashion that seems to be pitched somewhere between early Sonic Youth and wherever mainstream alternative was circa 1994. To the band's credit, its members play around a bit with the form at many points throughout -- dropouts and sonic shifts recur, whether it's the burbling electronic drips on the opening "Golden Shower Song" or the compressed beats that underpin "Winter Wine." Even a more straight-ahead approach works for them, as shown by the ringing chug of "The Theme" in its extended introduction (Merche Blasco's backing vocals at points add a further appealing touch) and the penultimate number, the surging mini-epic "Engine of Angels." But ultimately there's a problem here in that it's not really clear what if anything Vogel and his bandmates are bringing to the overall style beyond an almost too vague appreciation of electronics and an embrace of no-wave-into-disco moves that have already been revived and reworked to death in recent years -- this is much more of an indulgence than anything else, and while there's nothing wrong with that at all, over an album's worth it grows progressively shrug-worthy. It's perhaps telling that the most enjoyable song, "Connecting Changes," is one of the most immediately danceable, thanks to the shuffling beat and the tight funk groove mixed with piano -- more of that might have made a very intriguing album indeed.

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