Review: Informatik – Playing With Fire

Informatik are making an impression in the world of EBM/Futurepop that is ours, as they release their 10th studio album, the nicely called Playing with Fire. This success could be explained by the fact that they do produce a sound that is actually quite different from the 12.450 EBM bands with growled voices and brutally synthesized rhythms, but also from the 11.804 other EBM bands with clear voices and nice little digital melodies.

One of the reasons of this differentiation is made quite clear as soon as the first track of the album starts, “No Sympathy”: an electric guitar. Soon, the voice appears and that, also, is interesting enough to be noted: a deep, soft, Doom Metal kind of voice, singing in a relatively atone, peaceful way. Yes, that’s only good points so far, and anyone who’s never heard of Informatik before starts to think that this band might actually be classified among the good, interesting EBM bands (which are not many). But well, things could not be so perfect. Why? Because life is unfair, and everything sucks, that’s why.

So we get on, song after song, listening to this album that might get us a bit more enthusiastic about the renewal of the EBM scene. Song after song, after song, after song… Wait, was that the same song or was that two? Jesus. When will bands start to understand they don’t need to release a 10 tracks albums if they really only have 2. The album gets longer, duller and less exciting; we are far from “No Sympathy” ’s thrilling start. At the end of the day, one realizes the problem with Informatik’s music is not how they do it (good production, good voice, nice sound composition), but what they actually do: the melodies are awkward, don’t really feel natural or spontaneous, and the vocal parts, although the voice is interesting, feel so forced on unnatural melodies, that we would sometimes drift away, fantasizing about a deeply silent afternoon in a Japanese garden. Or pancakes. 

Some melodies become so poppy even U2 wouldn’t have dared to add it to a recent album, like the ending part of “Something to Believe In” (Let’s make it clear, U2 is great. Sometimes. Check October and stop being a music nazi.), some others feel so odd they almost are uncomfortable to listen to; “Brave New World” would be the perfect example, with this recurring keyboard line that feels like a commercial jingle to sell frying pans, the clumsy lyrics and the most strange bit “There’s a voice in my head, that keeps on telling me, go, go, go, go”. If you like this part, I eat my cat (I don’t care, I have two).

We also get the strangest cover with the song “No One”, is entirely based on the harmony of Ennio Morricone’s “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”. Funnily enough it is one of the best songs of the album, with a deep, mesmerizing chorus and… decent lyrics. The hardest passage of the album is probably the song “Juliet”, where, in my humble opinion, there is absolutely nothing to save. Neither the almost awful melody that could be the definition of what spontaneity is not, nor the very uneasy lyrics, that restores some faith into instrumental music. No wonder Juliet got off after that.

Saying Playing with Fire is a bad album would be completely unfair, given some elements are highly interesting, and they clearly understood what the lack of the scene was, and started to work hard in order to fill it. However, they did not completely get how to do it yet. Would it have been a debut album, I would have been very hopeful and lenient on them for it would have been a wonderful start. The problem is that Playing with Fire is far from being Informatik’s first album, and they did not fix the mistakes from the past, reproducing the same melody schemes than in the previous albums, writing the same kind of simplistic lyrics over and over. In the same vein, System Syn would actually be worth checking out, playing a similar kind of ElectroPop and doing spontaneity much better.

Review by Marie Lando.