Cold Cave - "Theme From Tomorrowland" (Death Comes Close)
The presence of Prurient’s Dominick Fernow on early Cold Cave records sent out a strong signal – Fernow’s discourse is almost Wagnerian in its swagger, and if fully integrated into a populist framework could inject some much-needed depth into the new wave of synthwave. Cold Cave still borrow from Fernow’s Bataillean fascination with abjection and eroticism – Love Comes Close features titles like “The Laurels Of Erotomania” and “The Trees Grew Emotion And Died.” The reality of Cold Cave, though, is that they’re dull – and I note Fernow’s out of the picture as anything but a thank you in the liner notes.
Cold Cave shuttle between a few modes: there are New Order tributes (the title track and “Youth and Lust”), female Germanic Sprechstimme electro (“Cebe And Me”), stubby-fingered arpeggios (“Trees Grew Emotions”), songs that fell off the back of a cold wave cassette compilation (“Hello Rats”). But everything here lacks purpose – this stuff was always most exciting when it was on the cusp of getting it on (I much prefer the dancefloor New Order of “Confusion” to the bleak smear of Movement), whereas on Love Comes Close, Cold Cave are neither here nor there. The pop hooks aren’t catchy enough, the ‘coldness’ too rote, the flirtation with eroticism simply an abbreviated spin on Depeche Mode’s “Master and Servant.”
I remain impressed by leader Wesley Eisold’s promise that Cold Cave would sound like “Yazoo and My Dad Is Dead”, and if they’d followed that thread, Cold Cave could have given us something genuinely disquieting – the bombast of Yazoo meeting the intense hermeticism of My Dad Is Dead; home-spun synth-pop plumbing obsessive interiors. Eisold’s clearly a sharp character, as his Heartworm Press publishing house and Juanita & Juan’s bookstore/gallery confirms, and he’s a dedicated supporter of the marginal, of artists whose questions elicit no simple answers. But Love Comes Close is little more than a simplistic textbook exercise – and not a particularly gratifying one at that.