Difficult to pigeon-hole, the self-confessed post-punk electronic balladeers have come up with the occasional cracking introspective pop song like ‘Breathing’ from 2010’s ‘Adrenalin’ long player, although generally their well-crafted music rarely rides to a canter.
But ‘Heir Of The Dog’ sees Erik Stein and Jon Boux deliver their most accessible long player of their career. Without doubt, Stein’s two guest vocals on Rusty Egan’s ‘Welcome To the Dancefloor’ project have opened out possibilities as to what CULT WITH NO NAME can achieve without compromising their artistic integrity, resulting in some changeable tempos.
While the opening title track might suggest business as usual with a piano and string instrumental from Boux, ‘Wasted’ springs a surprise with what can only be described as an atmospheric programmed dance number. Another deviation comes with the smooth electro disco of ‘Rosabelle, Believe’; a natural successor to ‘Breathing’, the pulsing synths and metronomic beat are offset by Steve Brown of TUXEDOMOON on woodwinds and some lovely vocals by Kelli Ali.
Kelli Ali features more prominently on the looser spirit of ‘When I Was a Girl’ while on ‘Yves Klein’s Blues’, her voice recalls KID MOXIE’s work with NIKONN; a dreamy impressionistic soundscape of piano and sequencers, it does what it says on the tin and is a fine tribute to the minimalist artist best known for his exhibition ‘The Void’ which comprised of an empty art gallery…
Meanwhile, the delightful ‘All I Have is Yours (Including You)’ is like a grandchild of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, and procreation. Echoing the melancholy of OMD, Stein’s delivery is complimented by an enticing harmony from Sirena Riley. And this is all without mentioning the MOBY-like drum loop assisted adventure of ‘Just Rewards’.
‘Of California’ could be seen as a distant cousin of DEPECHE MODE’s ‘Little 15’ with a Morricone twist, while ‘Man in a Bag’ is classic CULT WITH NO NAME with references to “wearing nothing but Schrödinger’s clothes”.
The waltzy ‘Fingertips’ laced with the violin of Blaine L Reininger is another in the sparse ivory led vein and ‘Heir Of The Dog’ ends with ‘No News’, the forlorn piano song featuring Luc van Lieshout on harmonica that closed the ‘Blue Velvet Revisited’ film and is now available for the first time.
For those who have not found CULT WITH NO NAME appealing before, this album could be the one to alter perceptions. With tempo variation and more expansive arrangements, ‘Heir Of The Dog’ is undoubtedly their most engaging body of work to date.
‘Heir Of The Dog’ is released as a CD and download on 18th September 2017, pre-order from https://cultwithnoname.bandcamp.com/album/heir-of-the-dog
CULT WITH NO NAME play the Electronic Circus Festival on Saturday 30th September 2017 at Detmolder Sommertheater in Detmold alongside MICHAEL ROTHER + KEBU, tickets available from http://www.electronic-circus.net/
Text by Chi Ming Lai
21st August 2017