On the San Francisco via Aachen, Germany band’s Myspace, Horrid Red cites a sizable lot of avant-punk, kraut, and industrial acts as influences: from Cabaret Voltaire to The Savage Republic to the Fall to PIL to Can. And while those influences can all be heard loud and clear on Celestial Joy, the omission of Joy Division, New Order, or even The Cure among them is confusing, since those bands immediately come to mind. Shit, the set’s title track could pass for a Joy Division tribute band from Berlin.
Celestial Joy is a wholly enjoyable, barely poppy, and somewhat horrifying trip into a world of low fidelity, danceable darkness. It’s your entire dusty, goth/art-rock record collection cued onto a shitty boombox and told to all play at once, Zaireeka style–with a dude yelling atop it all in German.
Though some of the lo-fi sounds are harsher than they are sugary, there’s a lot more new wave goodness to be had than the pure post-punk or industrial obscurity they list to emulate. A lot of the record’s instrumentation shimmers and lulls, rather than stabs and batters. Sure, at times frontman Bunker Wolf attains a Mark E. Smith level snarl (albeit in Deutsch), which gives the record a nice, angry kick. But overall, it’s equal parts danceable 80s new wave, John Maus lo-res, Casiotone pop, and post-punk melded into a slow-burning new wave nightmare.
“Forever Is Too Long”, for instance, is an 8-bit, lo-fi, punked-out take on The Cure’s “Love Song”, fit with with humming organ synth and delicate acoustic guitars, only sharpened by the onset of drone-y bass synths and Wolf’s angry ranting. “Marble Staircase Part III” features languid, shimmering guitars juxtaposed with digital hi-hat and industrial trash can banging and metallic gun cocking, all shrouded in the record’s perpetual haze of lo-fi impenetrability.
Horrid Red probably won’t change your life, but if anything, they’ll remind you of the vast richness of the vaguely similar genres they have so perfectly married to one another.
Essential Tracks: “Marble Staircase III”, “Colored Lights”, and “Forever Is Too Long”