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Tag Archives: futurepop

Hailed as a pioneer of the “futurepop” subgenre within electronic music, VNV Nation has had a long standing reputation within the EBM scene. They are responsible for an extensive discography spanning over 21 years. Given such a great amount of releases, for an electronic oriented group they’ve remained largely consistent with perhaps a few changes in very recent years to keep in stride with modern era sounding electropop.

Lyrically, VNV has largely focused on this sort of distanced speculation and observations on culture, world views, human expression, and personal relationships. Often, the group’s albums feature very lyrically introverted tracks while having an upbeat and danceable anthem of a song.

Beyond that, they’ve often submerged themselves entirely in melancholic musical elements filled with remorseful and emotional lyrics complimented by engagingly warm pads, pianos, and other easy listening instrumentation sufficiently exemplified in tracks like “Illusion” from 2007’s Judgement. Indeed, the very last track on the record (“As it Fades“) offers no vocals to speak of instead opting for cold pads and whispered orchestral elements.

Vocals have always been a fundamental element for VNV Nation and as such, its presentation and lyrical delivery on this album is as solid as it has been on previous records. The real differences that make this album from previous VNV works is how well each track compliments each other until the record’s completion. Additionally, the quality of lyrics has made a marked improvement (in this writer’s mind) from their last release with 2009’s Of Faith, Power, & Glory. Here it is immediately obvious that they were inspired.

A cursory listen may show that Automatic is a musically comparative adventure to Of Faith, Power, & Glory in that the pop-iness in that album reflects with this output here, however Automatic definitely proves to be a more fruitful and engaging record topped with more energetic and cohesive tracks. Really, it deserves comparisons to 2000’s Empires (excerpt) – these lyrics are inventive and they are delivered with swift and carefree execution.

Empires is largely seen as VNV Nation’s most iconic and crowning achievement and was followed up by another excellent record with Futureperfect in 2002 (an iconic song is presented in this album) and I’d submit that Automatic may indeed be their best work since then.

Be sure to check out this band’s previous works including Matter + Form released in 2005 as well as the records mentioned above. Here’s an excellent and motivated track from the album that I find is overlooked amongst other jewels in VNV’s discography.

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VNV Nation

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Compass is the brand new record by EBM mastermind Tom Shear, who records under the alias Assemblage 23. The album is being released on the lovely Metropolis – home to many industrial bands like Front Line Assembly, Mentallo & The Fixer, and on the lighter side, Covenant, Apoptygma Bezerk, and VNV Nation.

From this records, it’s quite obvious A23’s learned a lot musically since his previous full length Meta (which has great album art), released in 2007. Production wise, it feels rejuvenated. It’s mixed very well, which is a huge plus.

Lyrically, there is a bit of similarity to his last record in the sense that a lot of the lyrics are associated with introspection (evident with track titles like “Sorry,” “Ghosts,” Damaged,” “Old,” etc, on Meta, and then “How Can You Sleep,” and “Alone Again” on this). However, this album is more low-key in that aspect which in my opinion fits quite neatly with the pulsing synths and class beats that emerge in the background.

“Spark” is the first single, which contains some of the introspective lyrics that are present in much of Tom Shear’s discography as mentioned above. Its release brings us a nice remix by Combichrist.

I used to listen to lot of A23 back in the day. In fact, this is the artist that introduced me to “industrial dance” music, then I went on to discover the majority of the other artists on Metropolis, first working my way through the lighter side of the label a la VNV Nation and Covenant and working my way through Front Line Assembly and especially :wumpscut: (whose material gets released on his own label Beton Kopf Media; Metropolis just licenses his stuff for US distribution). This album is a nice refresher for those who haven’t listened to any of A23’s previous works, though I highly recommend that you lend your ears to the slightly darker Storm released in ’04 … that is, after you’ve listened to this.

It’s calculated. This record feels like it was created with a strong-willed determination, and not aimless like so many albums I’ve listened to from the genre. There’s effort, there’s focus, there’s something that I feel in this that tells me this record goes somewhere. The last half is especially good, and I really dig the remix of “Spark” by “Burikusu!!!,” which is a nice, slightly slower (bpm) rework of the original.

Fifteen fantastic tracks that clock in at 1hr 15 minutes. Truth be told, I could not be more impressed, and evidently, I am not the only one. Tom Shear on his website states that the 2CD deluxe edition of Compass, limited to a mere 1,000 copies, sold out pretty quickly upon arrival on his website. Unfortunately, I missed picking one up, but I’ll be placing an order for the regular edition ($14 USD) at A23’s webshop.

Highly recommended. P.S, if you needed any more proof that you should check out the rest of Tom Shear’s work (as if this post wasn’t enough), listen to this.

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And obviously, if you enjoy what you hear, purchase it at:

– A23’s webshop