I was listening to one of the tracks from the new Alec Empire album “The Golden Foretaste of Heaven” the other day. I was loving it but it seemed a bit familiar. The relentless pounding beat; the hypnotic, discordant basslines; the snarled vocals; the overall claustrophobic intensity of the thing. Alec Empire is a German with an English-sounding name, but his music reminds me of an English group with a German-sounding name. Nitzer Ebb were big(gish) in the ’80s but I only really got into them a bit later. I seem to own all of their albums and quite a number of singles, so I must like them. They released a career retrospective compilation (Body of Work) a couple of years ago; I thought that marked the end of the band, but apparently it just marked the beginning of their comeback.
I was amazed a year or so ago to see that “Nitzer Ebb” were due to play a gig at a local venue here in Auckland. They will most likely release a new album this year. It will be interesting to hear what it sounds like. They started out 25 years ago with noises, shouting, fist-pumping and Futurism (that’s where the Alec Empire connection comes in) but moved more and more towards traditional song structures. Apparently they have already played some of their new material live and broadcast so I can’t wait to hear it.
It’s funny — I always liked Alec Empire’s music, but never quite as much as I thought I should. Maybe it didn’t sound enough like Nitzer Ebb. But at least one of his new tracks, “New Man”, is just perfect: relentless pounding beat, hypnotic, discordant basslines, etc. Though the main bassline makes me think of Gary Numan’s “Are ‘Friends’ Electric”, which I think even predates Nitzer Ebb.
Maybe kids now think Alec Empire sounds dated, like those old fogeys Nitzer Ebb and Gary Numan…