||"To the Music"
If Colder's debut album Again had been released 20 years
earlier, you would have surely seen the group listed among the
15 other late-'70s/early-'80s French underground artists represented
on the Volga Select curated So Young but So Cold compilation.
Actually a one-man-band, the brainchild of Parisian producer/graphic
designer/videographer Marc Nguyen Tan, the first Colder record
was filled with much of the same icy detachment felt throughout
that comp, as he put the Gallic touch on electronic, prog, and
post-punk-inspired music--stylistic cues that are more often than
not associated with England and Germany. Granted, it's easier
to assimilate musical styles when you are looking back over two
or three decades and are able to see how bands like Can, Joy Division,
and NYC's Suicide have affected the artists that followed, but
Tan didn't really try to mask his influences. The only tip off
that the album had been made sometime after 2000, than say an
early-Factory Records release, was in the modern electronic production.
But as stylized as it was, Again also contained something
that most new, retro-ripping albums of the past few years lacked.
I detected in Tan's music a genuine sense of respect for the artists
that obviously influenced him, and he ambitiously, yet successfully,
fused the sounds he loved into his own modernist vision that was
unmistakably Colder. Now, two years later, his follow-up, Heat,
comes our way as an Output import, and I'm happy to say, not too
much has changed.
Quite honestly, I always thought the Joy Division comparisons
given to Again were way overused, but when the stiff, chugging
drum intro that kicks off Heat's opener, "Wrong Baby,"
leads to a percussive-picked bassline, I can't help but think
of "She's Lost Control." Only here, Tan's ghostly, understated
vocals are more Alan Vega than Ian Curtis. (You'll hear even more
apparent Suicide influences a few songs later in the mechanical
pulse and the dark melody of "Downtown.") In the track
that follows, the tight angular funk of "Losing Myself"
doesn't really move forward, but more so, hovers in place, no
doubt inspired by Can rhythm-makers Jaki Liebezeit and Holger
Czukay. Yes, the reference points of Again and Heat
are mostly the same, but they are clearly two different albums.
"To the Music" is driven by a punchy bass, and is much
more propulsive than anything off of Colder's debut. In "Tonight,"
Tan's dark dub turns downright funky, while the eerie "Your
Face" is made even more haunting by the spooky swirl of an
organ. If anything, Heat seems to be more organic than
its predecessor, with the presence of more live instruments rubbing
against the electronic production. Indeed, Marc Nguyen Tan adeptly
walks that fine artistic line, producing a record that retains
the same icy visions of his first Colder album, while offering
subtle differences that will keep fans looking forward to the