Friday, March 6, 2015

Mentallo & The Fixer - “Zothera” 3xCD

Reissued 90s electro-industrial mayhem

Back in the late 80s and early 90s, when I was editor of a small-press zine centered on “industrial” music, I received a C90 demo tape from Texan brothers Dwayne and Gary Dassing. It was a heaping amount of well-produced sequencer-driven electronic music that bared much resemblance to acts like Skinny Puppy or Front Line Assembly, with elegant strings bringing a beauty and warmth to the hard programmed beats and heavily-distorted vocals.

Shortly after that demo, the band signed to esteemed German electro-industrial-dance label Zoth Ommog, where they released several albums and singles to much acclaim, especially overseas with the growing legions of industrial fans. Personal strife ended the band in the early 2000s, before they regrouped for Belgian industrial label Alfa Matrix in 2007. 

This boxed set is a remastered comp of their first 2 albums for Zoth, “Revelations 23” and “Where Angels Fear To Tread”, alongside a third set of unreleased and remixed material titled “Apocrypha”. Looking back, Mentallo & The Fixer were certainly not trend-setters of their genre, yet these early albums do capture a moment in time when this kind of sound was on the rise, and it seemed poised to make inroads commercially, even. Well, that never quite happened, but Mentallo nonetheless built quite a following over Europe with these albums. 

There’s not much I can say individually about these albums, as they are quite similar. The lyrics have little bearing as they’re too distorted to decipher without a lyric sheet. I can report that the remastering adds some depth and kick to the already well-produced sound, and the brothers do manage some rather intricate layering of programming (some of which shows an affinity for the Berlin school of synth-sequencer units, and most likely German synth pioneers like Tangerine Dream). There is a moment of respite in the 1+ minute piano interlude, “Bleek Seclusion, but nearly 4 hours of the sequencer stuff starts to grate, so for serious fans of Mentallo’s aggressive electro, this is a heyday. Casual fans like me? Enjoyable in small doses. 

No comments: