Pure bliss. This was the track that changed my imagination forever.
A follow-up from Gary Numan’s recent Machine Music tour (May 2012), which was jaw-droppingly fantastic.
I bought Replicas, by Gary Numan and Tubeway Army, when it came out in 1979 at the malleable age of 8. It literally warped my brain, blew out the sides of my imagination and introduced me to the cold bliss of cyberpunk concepts and electro music.
This is the album cover – synonymous with the chillingly dark track “Down in the Park” – which was the precedent theme for the whole album. Dystopian science fiction meets a new kind of punk.
Down in the park
Where the machmen
Meet the machines
And play ‘Kill by numbers’
Down in the park
With a friend called ‘Five’
I was in a car crash
Or was it the war
But I’ve never been
Quite the same
Little white lies
Like ‘I was there’
Come to ‘Zom Zoms’
A place to eat
Like it was built
In one day
You can watch the humans
Trying to run
There’s a rape machine
I’d go outside
If he’d look the other way
You wouldn’t believe
The things they do
Down in the park
Where the chant is
‘Death, death, death’
Until the sun cries morning
Down in the park
With friends of mine
We are not lovers
We are not romantics
‘We are here to serve you’
A different face
But the words never change
I thought this was really rather good.
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I bought this a few weeks back and it’s possibly one of the most perfect albums Numan has ever made; part of his on-going and relatively recent collaboration with Ade Fenton. Skip back to the Halcyon days of Tubeway Army through to Berserker; this is where most people can be forgiven for only thinking of Numan as being all about “Are Friends Electric” and “Cars” whilst totally missing the staggering wealth and breadth of experimental talent going into the chameleon-like shifts of style and sound. “The Fury” and “Strange Charm” brought in Numan’s fetish for science fiction, particularly cyberpunk concepts and lots of movie-samples – something hinted at with the Mad Max / post-apocalyptic vibe of “Warriors” three years earlier. Then something seemed to go a little wrong – Numan began to experiment with a rocky sound but for whatever reason, it had lost the classic agent provocateur sound of science fiction punk. The album Metal Rhythm jars like a 16-track sequencer caught taking a comfort break.
Ironic when you consider the time-frame of Trent Reznor and his Nine Inch Nails.
Then a new sound and a string of albums with a similar and well-crafted vibe, “Sacrifice”, “Exile” and “Pure”. The science fiction theme was back in full flow, mixed with a healthy dose of anger against God laced with vocals about angels, demons and the pain of tragic loss.
And now, abruptly, after more than a decade out in the media wilderness… people beyond the fan-bunkers are talking about Numan again. In a good way. Basement Jaxx had a huge hit in 2002 with “Where’s Your Head At” courtesy of chunky samples from Numan’s track M.E.
“Jagged” and the mash-up that was “Hybrid” came through the Numan engine… feeding everyone’s hunger for the fix. All good Numan.
But “Dead Son Rising” takes everything to a whole new level. This is a quintessential masterpiece – a conclusion, if you like, of over thirty years in the dystopian science fiction realm of electro music – and the stories told by his lyrics.
It’s not an easy album to like. It doesn’t sing to you with beauty or lift you up in ecstasy, but rather it snarls with grungy overlapping guitar riffs, charges at you with metal shrieks, impales you with meaty bass throbs, lashes you with discordant vocals and the kind of melancholic chords that come from the heart of Numan’s seminal works.
Numan has found his industrial rock groove and its spectacularly awe-inspiring.
The NIN / Trent Reznor and Numanoid “reciprocal influence” has had a massive payoff.
And the album shifts. It evolves within the 11 track** lifespan. What you start with is a wholly different sound to where you end.
This is music for writing Cyberpunk or any gritty science-fiction and dark fantasy. This is music for scenes of violence, haunting dilemma, fast-paced narrative spill and the fury of a writer’s imagination when it’s on fire and in the moment of creation.
**12 tracks on download version
For me, Numan has been an ever-present Argonaut – a creative hero who existed well before his time – whose music has helped to shape just about every piece of science fiction and dark fantasy, cyberpunk and post-apocalyptic Cthulhu Mythos I’ve ever put to paper.
Track list for Dead Son Rising:
“Resurrection” – 3:24
“Big Noise Transmission” – 4:20
“Dead Sun Rising” – 4:57
“When the Sky Bleeds, He Will Come” – 4:47
“For the Rest of My Life” – 5:03
“Not the Love We Dream Of” – 5:10
“The Fall” – 4:19
“We Are the Lost” – 5:09
“For the Rest of My Life (Reprise)” – 5:44
“Into Battle” – 5:05
“Not the Love We Dream Of (Piano Version)” – 4:52
“Dead Sun Rising (Early Version)” (Bonus Track – Digital Only) – 5:53
Electro Origins: M.E. by Gary Numan, music for a post-apocalyptic generation
This track came onto my MP3 player via random yesterday. I’d just parked up in a lonely and remote car port on the edge of this ancient Roman spa town, Bath – a cold morning with mist hanging in the air like veils of eerie atmosphere. Perfect setting for an awesome track. This is electro from 1979! Blissfully dystopian lyrics. The last machine intelligence – alive and alone. So if you’re into post-apocalyptic gaming or fiction, I’d highly recommend this as mood music.
Video: Gary Numan morphing through 30 years of God-like electro punk.
Mr Fewzebrank has compiled photo imagery of Gary Numan into a morph-montage of his various faces since Tubeway Army days and on. There is one major omission, which is from Numan’s “I Assassin” and “Dance” period – very 1930’s noir image with music that was a very eclectic fusion of jazz, electro and his distinctive vocal style. Fewzebrank put it down to difficulty bringing the hat into the sequence, so I’ve included it below.
Enjoy the montage:
“I Assassin” period – one of my favourite albums by Numan
I was digging through my old vinyl collection and discovered this gem that I’d not listened to for an age. Gary Numan had a massive influence on my young (8 year old) brain and my early imagination with lyrics about machines growing people and electric friends – cold liquid love and dystopian themes within a strange “Cyberpunk” future. I’d say Gary Numan may have set the launch pad for the writing I’d eventually come to produce as an adult.
The 7 ” was released in 1987. Here’s some pics of the product. Click image for full res version.
If you’re interested in a blissfully detailed and comprehensive discography of Gary Numan you should check out this site: http://discography.garynuman.info/