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Dessau [reviews]
The Truth Hurts |Wax Trax II, 2009|

01. On the Banks, 02. Revenge, 03. Sun, 04. Chalk Line, 05. Rest My Eyes, 06. Trevethan, 07. Black Ball, 08. Seldom Traveled, 09. Suffer 16, 10. Beijing, 11. Unshakeable, 12. Europe Light, 13. Imperial Hotel, 14. Crutch of Utility, 15. Red Languages, 16. Isolation (Live), 17. Ceremony (Live)

Chicago atmosphere seems to have its unique charm and so it leaves a mark on a variety of coldwave and industrial rock bands coming from the city. Wax Trax! (having a cult status already like Fifth Colvmn and Re-constriction), was initially a music store in Denver, then became a record label active in the 80s and the 90s in Chicago, attracting the listeners with very interesting albums and supporting music styles mentioned above. It still releases very good albums after its transformation to Wax Trax II, like the one I got for a review called „The Truth Hurts 1985 – 2000” by Dessau.

The band has collected a variety of demos, live versions and songs released only on vinyls during the last 15 years and those filled in the retrospective album mostly.
There are at least two important names appearing in a context of this release, I mean Paul Barker from the first Ministry's lineup (presently in U.S.S.A. and Flowering Blight) and Richard Patrick (Filter, Army of Anyone). I'll switch to them a little later because he's John Elliott who's been unchangeable leading Dessau project for all those years.

The album starts with the song „On The Banks”, where a racing car sound was sampled in a cool way. It reminds me some car from those movies of the 50s. It comes back through the song a few times more and it actually made me irritated a bit. The good thing is the song evolves into an industrial rock track and becomes even louder at the end. Overall, it's too short and it doesn't extend what could have been extended. According to the CD booklet, „On The Banks” was released on 50 State Songs album in 1999.

„Revenge” sounds old-school, though less than the original version from the first synth-pop Ministry's album ;) This cover song was initially released on „Another Prick In The Wall” compilation and I absolutely love it.

„Sun” brings some funky-house vibes and something else, and the vibe may ring the bell to some of you recalling the name of another Chicago based band – Die Warzau. In fact, the song is a product of a mixing board used by Van Christie, a co-founder of Die Warzau. Together with Jim Marcus they ran a Warzone Recorders studio in Chicago which music processing services were used by a variety of bands like Sister Machine Gun, Sheep On Drugs, Pigface, Final Cut, Evil Mothers etc.) Paul Barker mentioned above played a bass in “Sun” what you can easily tell if you have ever heard Barker's basslines. The song is a mix coming from Details Sketchy released in 1995. Also a following song „Chalkline” comes from that album and which I would love to omit in both reviewing and listening as it stays far from what I personally enjoy with. However it is not a bad song in any way, but it needs a different music taste to like it. The vibe coming from Warzone Recorders contains way too much of house, nu jazz and trip hop to me. The song was produced by Van Christie, and programmed by Jim Marcus amongst all, a very creative and intelligent artist who is expected to release yet another interesting album in the near future.

„Trevethan”, „Rest My Eyes”, „Black Ball” along with „Seldom Travelled” and „Suffer 16” make that unreleased earlier famous five tracks set featuring Paul Barker, Jeff „Critter” Newell (as an assistant here mixing „Trevethan” and „BlackBall”), John Treventhan and Richard Patrick.

„Rest My Eyes” is a song where Paul Barker could have felt well with his bass if this job hadn't been taken by Barry Nelson. A simple, dynamic bass line which didn't need too much of virtuosity but precision only dominated the song. There's another instrument coming out, not that typical for industrial music at all, I mean horns played by Terry Townson. Then „Trevethan” (so cool, the song title is the programmer's name!) sounds a bit gloomy and monotone however I'm glad it's on the album because it is yet another Dessau's unreleased track.
The next song on the tracklist is „Black Ball” recalling that old Ministry style before they turned to heavy guitars, great for listening at both home and club with aggressive Elliot's vocals, mobility of Nelson's bass and nice layered guitar riffs by Mike Orr.

Number eight on the list is „Seldom Traveled” which contains simple, rhythmic sound of Paul Barker's bass (who played not only that instrument but also a guitar on the track) and John Elliot's vocals. After all, it turns out to be a humdrum song with repetitive refrains and precisely emplaced synths, so nothing is going on that much during the song play.

„Suffer 16” comes next with its Kraftwerk-like, old Die Krupps or Front 242 vibes, though only at the beginning because after that marching intro, there are guitar riffs coming in, played by, amongst all, Richard Patrick from Filter. In fact, this track has some crazy atmosphere and doesn't remind anything Patrick made with Filter. Anger increases to the limits of concentration in a few spots. The song finishes with saxophone tune however Mike Griffith who played it had no wide range of expression.

The cult „Beijing” song has its amazing bassline, so characteristic for both American and European coldwave music. That's a part of that charm I mentioned at the beginning of the review in terms of Chicago. The song was released on Dessau album (1995) and what's interesting, considering the bass sound, he's not Paul Barker but Barry Nelson who played the bass in “Beijing”.
A similar vibe was kept also in „Europe Light” and „Imperial Hotel”, both from Happy Moods album released in 1986. Their typical motives are the bass intervals surrounded by a variety of beats made with automatic drums.

There's „Unshakeable” after „Beijing” with their gothic vibes and structures based on a notorious basslines known also from The Sisters of Mercy's songs, enriched with guitar riffs and drums like if influenced by Joy Divison music.
It is really cool for the fans of those songs and years because „Unshakeable” was released in 1986 when a lot of great things were happening in music at that time. It's like a big leap into the 80s again so you may feel exactly like watching your young neighbors going to a new romantics party on Saturday night, having weird hair style, make up and cloths.

„Crutch of Utility” and „Red Languages” they are also very, very old songs what you can tell listening closely to the bass and guitars. That vibe was fashionable, so close to new romantics and gothic styles, very cold and memorable. A lot of The Danse Society songs have this kind of sound. The songs were released on a single vinyl called Red Languages in 1985. I could hear a lot of mistakes and wrong mastering in „Crutch of Utility” but after all it should be an amazing track to anybody who was growing up in the 80s.

The last two tracks „Isolation” and „Ceremony” are live versions, while „Isolation” was released in 1988 on a self titled single and produced by Al Jourgensen (Ministry, he played a guitar in the song as well). They are both Joy Division songs covers.

The truth hurts about the album in another way and it really makes me sad for all that hard work both Dessau and WTII have done so far. The Truth Hurts became one of the most eagerly shared album of this year and most of Russian websites, torrents and blogs have links to the files. European Union anti piracy laws don't apply to Russia and so I guess American labels can't do much against sharing as well. Soon the album may be sold online by a variety of Russian so called 'mp3 stores' for 5 cents per song and none of that illegal income will be sent to the band or Wax Trax II.

(Katarzyna 'NINa' Górnisiewicz, 09/24/2010. Proofreading: Scott M. Owens. Must not be used for promotional or commercial purposes. See a Legal Note for the copyrights below)

PS. Many thanks to Bart & David from Wax Trax II for sending the CD for the review.

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