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Music Reviews

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Alan Vega

Rating: 7.5/10 ?

August 28, 2007
Certain artists seem like they have been around forever, making music and art in the spotlight for longer than Patrick Wolf has been alive. Alan Vega has been making music for 37 years, both as one half of acclaimed duo Suicide and also as a solo artist. Vega may be best known for his work in the former, starting in the early 70's together with Martin Rev, creating violent, more punk than punk electronica, but he has also quietly released ten solo albums, of which Station is the latest.

It is well known that Vega's music has always had a streak of violence to it; Suicide's live performances were known to be occasions of fistfights between the band and their followers. Rev and Vega have even been attacked with axes and monkey wrenches, but all the violence has found a home in Vega's music.

Station opens strongly with "Freedom's Smashed," a track classically Vega in that it is ultra repetitive, with dirty metallic beats and the composer's rockabilly snarl accompanying a white noise that lies like a thick blanket over the song. Vega sets his stage early on and the rest of Station follows the lead of "Freedom's Smashed." To the untrained ear most of Station's tracks likely all sound the same, but as a unit the album is distinct and interesting in Vega's musical evolution.

Whereas many artists will attempt to assume a new sound in a very rapid fashion - like all the EBM bands and their fascination with trance, where one album it's pure EBM and the next it's trance - dramatic departures can at the least be misunderstood and, more often, complete failures. Steering clear of the quick-change, Vega has let his music take evolve on its own course over the years; he stays true to his musical formula, and only where changes are necessary for the music to evolve does he make them. Vega's approach is unlikely to make groundbreaking leaps, but it makes for a very genuine product, and an assured sound.

And so it is that Station sounds uniform - but one man's homogenous is another man's refined. There are a handful of good songs on the album - "Gun God Game", "Psychopatha" and "S.S. Eyes" being the best - but Station is one of those monolithic scores, where each listener is bound to find his or her own favorites, a list of which is sure to change over time.

Station is certainly not Alan Vega's best release, but considering the high standards the artist sets for himself, it's definitely passable. Any fan of Suicide or one of Vega's nine previous albums will feel right at home with this release, which is full of songs to fistfight to.

Reviewed by Daniel Svanberg
A contributing writer for LAS, Daniel Svanberg now lives in Boston, far far away from Sweden, where he once lived, although the weather is the same.

See other reviews by Daniel Svanberg



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