Wednesday, October 14, 2009

It just doesn't get freakier than this - Suicide by Suicide

I just can’t put off blogging about this album any longer. It’s freaky and it’s creepy, and even the bits that aren’t scary are scary; it gives me nightmares and it probably makes the neighbours think that there is some kind of ancient demonic ritual going on in here. But Suicide’s Suicide (first album) is just too, too good to ignore and, like those long, quiet scenes in horror movies, you just keep on watching even though you know something is going to go bump and that’ll be the end of you.

Just two people go to make up Suicide – Alan Vega’s vocals and Martin Rev’s electronics. While it all sounds like more than two people, it’s still a pretty bare, minimalist sound, with hypnotic spooky little turns of phrase, repeated over and over against a rumbling beat, like amplified heart palpitations, and Vega’s voice, spoken more than sung and turned into ghostlike echoes of itself, with weird little grunts and yelps instead of commas and full-stops. It’s eerie stuff.

You wouldn’t think there’d be place for love songs on an album like this – but there’s two of them, as long as you’re not too fussy with your definition of ‘love’ (or of ‘song’, for that matter): “Cheree”, with its chilling little tingling snippets of melody in the treble, its sinister, repeating organ chords; and “Girl” with its positively pornographic moans and groans from Vega. Both songs are every bit as creepy as the creepy stuff.

But, of course, the real heart of ice of this album is “Frankie Teardrop”: a ten and a half minute tale about a 20 year old factory worker who murders his wife and child, told with spine chilling detachment, Vega’s voice chanting “Frankie, Frankie”, trembling and cold, in the way the devil might call someone up from their grave. The gruesome monotone of the story is interrupted every now and then by a blood-curdling stab of a scream – the sort that makes your hair stand on end even if you don’t have any – and ultimately ends as black waves of sound wash all the screaming Frankies down to hell. I’ve never heard music as frightening, nor as frightened, as this. You will need to pay huge bucks for very intense therapy to get "Frankie Teardrop" out of your system once you have heard it.

The original version of this album featured only seven songs and, while subsequent releases seem to always add a few extras, I think the music’s power and impact is greatest when you just listen to it how it was originally made, hitting the off switch after the haunting requiem to Che Guevara, and switching every light in the house on. Bugger the greenhouse implications – this album is one that all the carbon emissions in the world can’t warm up.

Thanks, if thanks is the right word, to Lucas for introducing me to this fantastic, freaky album.

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