Virgin 1983 / Angel Air 2017
A different spin on darkened era where deceit rules the game yet there’s no fun in it.
If the dystopian disco of DATA’s debut exuded deadpan sort of humor, the band’s second record seems too serious for its own sake and sounds even more outdated, although satire is still there. Another concept creation, the album is linked to “Opera Electronica” via the triumphant “Musique Electronique” but connections run much deeper now, a hilarious take on Kurt Weill’s “Bilbao” – the only cover in the ensemble’s short canon – coming from the “Happy End” musical which also contained “The Sailors’ Tango” that was a prototype for Georg Kajanus’ previous endeavor and now signaled the presence of hope on the “Time” tracks.
Some of these, “Physical Asylum” and “Plastic Money” first of all, feel quite claustrophobic despite a perfect layering of mechanical beats and androidesque voices, while “Living Inside Me” is very much human thanks to soulful voices and Henry Marsh’s warm synthesizer lines. The simplicity of arcade delight behind “Data Plata” and the jungle buzz of “A-O (No Bungalow)” can’t help but ignite a smile, especially when sexual moans fill the air, although it’s “Romy Haag” that’s the pinnacle of the ensemble urban sophistication – even more pronounced in the most recent of the two remixes tagged to the end of this reissue to prove the group’s lasting imprint – elevated by the multitude of aural elements on display, from German count to lounge-like glides and Caribbean vibe.
The hectic “Silver Tongued Heroes” might be the best attempt to bring prince Georg’s vaudevillian leanings to the future that never happened. Still, the dance into gloom didn’t go away – it would return almost quarter-century later with NOIR to haunt those who hoped for utopia, but second time around it failed to excite.