The list of heirs to the signature Gary Numan sound could go on for miles, but our UK veteran of small aircraft and synthesized guitars sounds as if he’s hovered amidst the current electronic music scene, in a similar fashion to The Orb or Tangerine Dream, making appearances by passionate necessity or in a passing fancy. Dead Son Rising suggests that Numan is trying to stay vibrant in the world of music that he helped spawn, but he does so without borrowing from younger generations. Numan is still Numan, and it’s a lovely darkness with its own set of oscillating peaks and valleys.
“Big Noise Transmission” and “When The Sky Bleeds…” take their merry time getting to the bloody point before charging in with sharp drumbeats and the expected electronic noise keeping perfect time. Standouts “For the Rest of My Life” and “We Are the Lost” rain ginger balances of Numan’s atmospherically altered accent and darkwave percussion, raising a bar that never really gets matched so much as glanced at on Dead Son Rising. “Not the Love We Dream Of” and “For the Rest of My Life [Reprise]” could both be mistaken for Downward Spiral outtakes, a compliment had that record not already buttoned itself well enough, implying how dangerously close Reznor and his default mentor have become over the last two decades.
The hardest part to swallow about Gary Numan is understanding that this man essentially built what we call modern mainstream electronic industrial, and a gaggle of indie-swilling children haven’t the slightest clue. As he releases Dead Son Rising to a new generation groomed by ’90s industrial, nu-metal, or the resurgence of electronica and noise, Numan’s own trademarks compete with some who have either helped to radically reshape it over the years or completely abused it. Dead Son Rising is neither terrible nor extraordinary. It simply blends into a fold its daddy painstakingly crafted in the ’80s. Of course, it’s the other way around, and Dead Son Rising, while acceptable on its own merits, may get lost in the collective iPod Shuffle. Shameful.
Essential Tracks: “For the Rest of My Life”, “Big Noise Transmission”, and “When the Sky Bleeds”