White Men Talk
Slice Of Life
One Of These Mornings...
The Second Hand
Three Arms And A Dead Cert
Grave Concerns - USA - 2008
This album is perhaps the definitive darkwave release. Not the first, nor the most popular, but the most perfect example of the genre. The classical atmospheres, the gothic moodiness, and of course the electronics, condensed from the high energy aggression of EBM into something subtle and simmering with tension. The album starts off with an instrumental intro, with snippets of nervous violin (the real thing, played by Franck Dematteis) emerging from radio static, then launches into "White Men Talk" and "Cosmetic Citizen," each a masterpiece of pulsing electronics, skittering violins, and some of Attrition's most masterful vocal arrangements, with band founder Martin Bowes grumbling in a low octave while Julia Waller's operatic soprano soars high up above. "Slice of Life," true to its title, is sharper, the violins jagged and Waller's voice split down the middle and rearranged over a thumping techno beat, while "Acid Tongue," for all its caustic aggression, is much fuller, more reliant on classical modes, Dematteis' strings taking center stage while the electronics boil underneath them. On the second half of the album, things get more experimental, less reliant on conventional song structure. "One of These Mornings" is driven by samples, not verses, with violin screeching behind schoolchildren, and title track "3 Arms and a Dead Cert" is a chopped up composition of violins, crying babies, and bits of Waller's wordless wailing drenched in studio effects. It's anything but random, though, and gradually the morass of sampled sound effects coalesces into an orchestral crescendo, only to fade out in the ironically-titled "Prelude," an almost exclusively classical arrangement of strings. Originally released a decade ago, this masterpiece is available again in a remastered version on Bowes' own Two Gods Records. This means that there's no excuse not to own a copy; if you're even remotely interested in darkwave, gothic, or dark electronic music, this album should be mandatory listening.
Sideline - Belgium - 1996
British pioneers strike back and add another album to their huge discography.
ATTRITION is one of the few electronic bands that has managed to avoid it's
curse through the eighties and nineties without ever losing authenticity,
i would even dare to say "spontaneity"!
Release after release, the genius Martin Bowes brings his sound a bit further. He deepens his search for the perfect sound and probes into the numerous unexplored sonic landscapes to create something new with no reference to the various trends he went through with time.
On this 3 arms and a dead cert, he gives a twist to the taste of dark techno (as they would call it in Germany) on the latest material by re-inforcing his marriage between digital and analog ingredients, shy guitars and beautiful violins. Franck Dematteis' violin parts give a totally different dimension to the electronica, plunging them into a sort of semi-classical semi-theatrical atmosphere (Predicament?, 3 arms and a dead cert, or Prelude).
The instrument perfectly suits the convincing male and female vocal contrasts. Julia Wallers' voice most often underlines the dramatic side of the songs, while Martin sounds cold and strong.
The lyrics are once again off the beaten track, adding another interesting feature to this rather varied album. Although globally it sounds sombre and mid-paced, there are also rhythmic songs with effective bass sequences (Acid Tongue or Demi-God). The best tracks in my opinion are White men talk, Acid Tongue or Demi God.
Attrition lead us into a new world, their own world, a world where they deserve to climb higher, a world i strongly advise you to enter at least once in your short life. Competently accomplished and perfectly mastered from the first second to the last.
Sonic Boom. USA. 1996
Attrition return with more of their masterful darkwave material that they are well-known and respected for.
This time however, Martin has placed more emphasis on integrated real instruments into his electronic material which definitely gives the material a richer flavor. Julia's angelic vocals are still present as well and, as usual, they never fail to send my body into shivers.
While Martin has almost always included classical elements to many of his songs, tracks like Prelude and 3 Arms... entirely cut out the dance element, leaving pure classical pieces that are both beautiful and stunning.
The song that caught my attention the most was Predicament? This song somehow manages to come across as the complete soundtrack to a play within a four minute span, due to the song's intensity and the varied mood swings throughout.
Another bonus to this CD (for the first 500 copies) was the inclusion of another disc, the Electronica Sessions, which contains such classics as My Friend is Golden and Fusilade (now up to version VI with this version) from a live show they did in the UK in 1994 and remixed for this CD.
Liar Society. USA 2008
3 Arms and a Dead Cert comes from my favorite era of Attrition's musical output. After the sounds of a radio tuning in to something uncanny (something wicked this way comes!), Attrition lays out a perfect trifecta of electro-Goth; "White Men Talk," "Acid Tongue," and "Cosmetic Citizen" are monumental tracks of Martin Bowes 's low, semi-whispered vocals, Julia Niblock 's operatic shriek, driving beats, inventive electronics, and eerie violin. There is a reason that these three tracks are considered classics in Attrition's catalog, and hearing them back-to-back is simply mind-blowing.
Things open up into different spaces after the first half of the album. "The Second Hand" takes the prior formula and makes it more experimental and a good deal darker. It's all into the shadows from there on out: "Predicament?" is a Coil -esque slice of threatening ambiance, "Red Eye" burbles with subliminal life, and the title track puts a unique spin on the idea of neo-classicism. Taken together, the album is a certifiable darkwave classic. And since it has recently been re-issued on the Two Gods imprint, you've got no excuse not to have this in your collection.
Gothtronic. Holland. 2008
After 1995's Ephemera, which was more of a Martin Bowes solo effort, Attrition reinvented itself with the successor 3 Arms & a Dead Cert.
The most remarkable change was the inclusion of a straightforward dance beat on a substantive part of the tracks which turned the album into a sort of classical-tinged dark techno. The combination of Julia Waller's high, operatic voice, the mournful viola and Martin's occasionally ominous (background-) vocals form a captivating blend on danceable tracks like "White men talk", "Cosmetic citizen", "Acid Tongue" and "Slice of life".
From "One of these mornings" onwards the theme and timbre of the album alters. With more emphasis on soundscapes and looser arrangements Attrition is again exploring new paths. "The second hand", although slow, has an underlying tension and vividness that results from the well-programmed percussion, "Demi-god" benefits from the melody Julia brings in. "Predicament?", with its samples and sound fragments during the long intro, sounds cold and detached. The latter half of the song ranks among the among the most sombre passages Attrition ever recorded.
The title track is a majestic song that starts subtle but gets more dramatic as it progresses. The melancholic "Prelude", that contains just a viola played by Franck Dematteis, closes this diverse album.