Published in "B-Side" magazine, Cherry Hill/Philadelphia, in 1995.


La Cigale, Paris

Swiss cyber trio The Young Gods kicked off their Euro/world tour at a packed Cigale in Paris, just a few days ahead of the release of their new album, Only Heaven.
They did so with a brilliant display of what can be done by one musician with top-of-the-line music software and digital sampling technology, a kicking live drummer and a good-looking, good sounding, powerful lead vocalist/front-man.
All the articles and reviews I read in the French press have delineated the Young Gods' musical territory in relation to NIN and Ministry, some writers bringing those names up as matter-of-fact descriptions, others heaping scorn on the American bands, one going as far as writing of NIN's "...tired formula of Depeche Mode plus FM metal guitars!" If you're unfamiliar with the Young Gods, NIN/Ministry is as good a comparison as any, even though one could add to that musical family the likes of first cousins Heldon, Foetus and Swans, and paternal uncles Pink Floyd, Terry Riley and Jimi Hendrix.
The early-Floyd angle is especially pertinent in the Young Gods masterful handling of quiet space and ambience, both on the album and in concert.
Many years ago, pre-Darkside Pink Floyd used to feature quiet "spacy" moments during their live shows: shimmering 'Space Echo'ed glissando guitars, VCS3 bloops, bleeps and sequences dripping off bird songs, interlaced in swirling quad with seagull squawks and buzzing bees.
The wonderful thing, unthinkable today, was the absolute silence, awed and mesmerized, with which the audience welcomed the band's invitation to space out: no 'Whip-it" mutant to scream "Rock 'n' Roll" between dust rushes and drunken slobbers, so when one of those gulls passed overhead in the panning quad mix, it was so quiet you could almost hear the guano hit the ground all around you!
The Young Gods brought back those halcyon days when they amazingly pulled that stunt at La Cigale the other night. On at least two occasions, most notably during a perfect rendition of the epic 'Moon Revolutions' (at 16:34, the longest track on "Only Heaven", the dramatic pendant to 'Summer Eyes' from 1992's TV Sky), the Young Gods created with seeming ease a mood of quiet 'Umma GumMeddle' introspective tension, gliding through regions of space fraught with unspoken menace, coolly and hypnotically stretching the fabric of space-time, finally shattering the apparent peace with a swirling mixture of wailing guitar feedback, apocalyptic tribal drum grooves and mountains of samples.
Samplers are the Young Gods' main "instruments". On stage, all the music, save for the drums, is played from the keyboards: bass, guitars and 'everything else'! And it all sounds quite real and perfectly placed. In all honesty, I have to say that therein lies the one weakness of a Young Gods' live performance: almost by definition, a trap drummer and a keyboardist do not "move" much on stage, so one cannot help a feeling of stasis to overcome the proceedings. Even a strong front man like Franz Treichler, who moves well and struts effectively cannot offset the relative motionlessness of his two mates. By comparison, the wildness and abandon of Trent Reznor and his Nails do bring a NIN performance to a level of emotional excess barely approached by the Young Gods. But that remains a relatively minor point considering the power and diversity of the songwriting and arrangements.
Another potential problem for a sample-heavy outfit is the aggressivity with which record companies and copyright lawyers have sued and pursued the buccaneer sampler: "Pay us a lot of money for the rights, or we'll sue you for all you've got and ruin your life and career!!" So, rethinking their approach, the Young Gods simply play what they need beforehand and sample themselves! And in so doing, they have spared themselves the accusation thrown at other sample maniac modernists: namely just being rearrangers of other people's music, relying only on redistributing the sounds, timbres and musical colors of instruments and programs played and thought out by others. These Gods do indeed create their own universe!!
Now, this being said, I couldn't help but notice various bits and sound bites that I'd heard somewhere else before. Musical illusion or perspicacious listening? You tell me! Only Heaven was recorded in NYC during most of 1994, with remixing, overdubbing and vocals recordings produced upstate at Bearsville. Early Swans percussionist/engineer/producer/technologist extraordinaire Roli Mosimann, a Swiss compatriot, is once again at the control. Franz Treichler has described him as the "sound catalyst and decoder", and he is the engineering hinge on which the doors of technology swing open to reveal the Young Gods' sound vision.

With time on their hands, a nice budget and NYC's vanguardist mayhem right outside their front door for organic inspiration, the Young Gods have created an "Opus Technoid" of great force and shimmering beauty, avoiding the unidimensional approach of, let's say, Ministry's cold rage, NIN's absolute despair or Foetus' horrifying destructiveness.
Listening to the Young Gods gives you the exhilarating feeling of being right in on a new world of sounds, with long shelf life, unfolding along with you into the musical future, unlike other "modern" tech bands, futurist on the first day, passe the next and requiring another helping of new product very quickly to fend off obsolescence, that killer virus of the Avant Garde.

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