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Hell - Größenwahn 1992-2005 / Monotonie durch Automation: NY Muscle Interpretation

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Artist: Hell

Album: Größenwahn 1992-2005 / Monotonie durch Automation: NY Muscle Interpretation

Label: International Deejay Gigolo

Review date: Jan. 11, 2006

This may sound bleedingly obvious, but Hell’s early tracks are miles better than his more recent electro-house songs. Hell’s International Deejay Gigolo label is partly responsible for the birthing of electroclash, but on Größenwahn 1992-2005 his mid-’90s fraying-at-the-edges tracks like “Definition of House” and “Eat My House, Baby” excel. Hell’s productions possess a cold grainy murk that suggest equipment going awry and dark aircraft-hanger spaces buckling under bass pressure, and everything sounds worn, as though dust and dirt score the master tapes. When Hell lifts acid’s mannerisms on “Diese Momente Weden Nicht Verloren Sein Wie Tränen Im Regen” and “Like That”, he buries the 303 under gloomy distortion.

The songs from his 2003 NY Muscle album sound ordinary in comparison. James Murphy’s ‘out of my fucking mind’ vocal on “Tragic Picture Show” is as hammy as the song’s attempt at reconciling rock and techno (please, not again), and the prog phrases on “Keep on Waiting” are alternately endearing and hilarious. (You’d want to be, with noted sad sack Erlend Øye on vocals.) It takes Billie Ray Martin’s charmingly overblown delivery on torch song “Je Regrette Everything” to redeem Hell’s later work - the ghost of “Tell Me When the Fever Ended” will not rest.

On the remix disc, Superpitcher grabs stray syllables from Martin’s mouth and turns them into off-to-the-side utterances in another of his grandly melancholy remixes, where Jesper Dahlbäck slows a proto-disco pattern to snail’s pace so that Martin sounds positively wracked and disconsolate. Dominik Eulberg’s refitting of “Follow You” towers over the rest of Monotonie durch Automation, with distended melodies spiraling through black circuits of sound while Eulberg’s pin-prick production rests Hell on a needlepoint. The most fascinating intervention comes from Ricardo Villalobos, whose mix of “Listen to the Hiss” shoots the original into a zero gravity chamber while Alan Vega vainly fights to be heard through the globular mess. Weird.

By Jon Dale

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