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Instant Camera
Alive On Departure
Wall to Wall Recordsc

There is a certain, contrived, element to this CD that, while seemingly by design, tends to work against it and not for it. That element is the relegation of lead vocals to the background of the music's layering. It sounds as if Neil Dez is singing from 20 or so feet behind the drum kit. This might be a subtle statement about people becoming lost in the machine to the point where we constitute only so much background noise, but my ear keeps trying to resolve what merely sounds like improper mixing. If nothing else, it was an interesting idea to try out, but I'd rather not have to experience it again. I've simply become too accustomed to the idea that a vocalist has something important to say and that they should be heard above all other instruments.

The test pattern cover to the CD is reminiscent of something I might find on a Man Or Astroman? album, and the content isn't terribly far removed, either. There are some definite '80s new wave pieces to this puzzle, and some sinister surf lines to boot. The punk influence parallels some of the lines of the Misfits' tunes from the Legacy Of Brutality days; "Terrorvision" might just be a Depeche Mode rework of "TV Casualty."

In Orwell's 1984, Winston Smith's tormentor told him that if he wanted a vision of the future, he would give him one: "imagine a boot stomping on a human face; forever." I thought that the most shocking image of interminable suffering I'd ever encountered, but Instant Camera gives that a run for its money in depicting a world of people ground down by the various machinations of their everyday lives; existing in a state of eternal ennui yet gripped with paranoiac delusions over unseen foes, perhaps real but just as likely imagined. Many works of art have depicted the uneasy times of the world's periods of instability, and Alive On Departure is another good (but not quite spectacular) example. It was also the best of my last lot of CDs to review and still has a chance of finding its way into my "10 best" list for the year, based largely on the merits of standout tracks "Another Suggestion (For White Noize)", "Shadowman" and "Existing to Cease."


Track Listing:
1. Beyond Infinity
2. Another Suggestion (For White Noize)
3. Dr. Glass
4. Style Over Substance Abuse
5. Shadowman
6. Social Anxiety
7. Working Class Zero
8. Existing to Cease
9. Terrorvision
10. Hearing is Disbelieving

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