In Strict Confidence
Herzattacke EP (Sony)
~reviewed by Uncle Nemesis
Germany? It's a different world.
In Strict Confidence are a German EBM outfit who, in the UK or USA, would probably occupy a position in the 'underground' scene. They'd be signed up to a small independent label, they'd rely heavily on print-fanzines and webzines for their publicity: in short, they'd hardly register as a blip on the radar of the mainstream music biz.
But in Germany, different rules apply. Doors that would be firmly shut for In Strict Confidence elsewhere are wide open. They're on a major label (and you can't get much more major than Sony). Their releases hit the charts. They're all over the mainstream media. They do all that 'proper band' stuff which can only be an unattainable ambition for artists from other countries. In short, in Germany you can make this kind of music and actually have a *career*.
This EP came out a while back as a taster for the band's 'Mistrust The Angels' album, which is probably selling by the truckload to thousands of enthusiastic German fans even as I type. Elsewhere on the planet, where In Strict Confidence don't enjoy such a high profile, it serves as a useful introduction to what the band are all about.
And what they're about is - as previously noted - EBM. The lead track on the EP, 'Herzattacke (Extended version)', is actually quite subtle, given that we're dealing with a genre here which isn't exactly known for subtlety. It sneaks into view on a wash of synth-colour and some odd little forest-floor effects, like the theme tune to a nature show on TV. The beat isn't allowed to dominate the track, and even the lyrics - half-spoken in German - don't sound as uncompromisingly harsh as much EBM stuff tends to do.
However, if you want harsh, In Strict Confidence can do harsh - as they prove with 'Herzattacke (Club mix)', which is a take-no-prisoners stomper. The rhythmic elements of the track have been pushed up front: it's all beat, sequences, and a chanted, sometimes distorted, vocal. No doubt this would work well in a club, but it's not such a great experience to listen to - it's ultimately nothing more than an exercise in pressing genre-buttons. And anyway, didn't DAF do this stuff back in the eighties?
There are three further mixes of 'Herzattacke', of which the most interesting from a StarVox point of view must certainly be the 'Clan of Xymox remix' by Ronny Moorings. There have been so many instances over the years of goth bands trying to give themselves some sort of dance-floor makeover in a bid to expand their audience that it's ironic to find an EBM outfit going for a slice of goth-pie. Ronny's remix adds layers of atmosphere, sampled choirs and - yes - an insistent, clangourous, descending guitar riff. The result is a mad, towering, anthem of industrio-goth which would fit very neatly into a DJ set, possibly sandwiched between 'Du Hast' and 'Doctor Jeep' (I throw this in as a virtual request to any passing DJs!) Nice one from Mr Xymox, there.
Three other tracks complete the tunestack: 'Into Ashes', which is all cinematic effects and a long, long intro; 'Kaleidoskop', a late-night cruise of an instrumental (and actually a very effective mood-track), and 'The Final Embrace', a spooky ambient-dance piece with an incongruously frenzied vocal.
The overall effect is that In Strict Confidence are a bit more of an interesting proposition than many other contenders in the EBM genre - in fact, the less generic they are, the more interesting they get. There's possibly a lesson in that. Still, it looks like Sony Germany invested wisely when they signed the band - but I wonder what it would take for Sony Rest Of The World to follow suit?
In Strict Confidence Website: http://www.instrictconfidence.de
Reviewed by Uncle Nemesis: http://www.nemesis.to