L.A.S.’s Crime | Mésmerique (Domestica 2015)

This L.A.S.’s Crime / Domestica collaboration comes with a strapline courtesy of 16th Century Parisian scientist Jean Sylvain Bailly: ‘magnetism without imagination doesn’t produce anything, imagination without magnetism produces crises’. Frankly, we could end the review there. However this collection of restored demos deserves a few more words from my this humble 21st century writer, if anything to beg the lover of any kind of goth-tinged synth sonority to take a bite out of Mésmerique.

The 11-tracks reissued here come from 4-track demos recorded by the Marchetti-Brogi duo throughout the 1980s. They have been truly majestically cleaned up, which L.A.S.’s Crime’s stuff really needs: even in the ever-inventive context of Italian darkwave – and even in a style of music which electro-purists might find too theatrical – Marchetti and Brogi have an extraordinarily wide and varied palette of sounds, and have always displayed a detailed attention to texture. So albeit the charms of demo roughness, it’s essential to hear them restored to glorious technicolor (or to hyper-exposed HD black and white, if you will), as they are here. Here, they shine.

Inventive but never difficult, it keeps a classic synth melody going through different washes and textures, with a certain humour as well as a bleak erotic charge

The LP is a journey through some of the underheard echelons of L.A.S.’s Crime dark swagger, brutal approach to rhythm, unashamedly romantic knack for melody and plaintive lyrical content. The tracks have been chronologically assembled so as to feel the path of their work: earlier demos such as ‘Mary’s Room’, ‘Macabradanza’ and ‘Dark Orris’ are perfect darkwave on steroids, violent beats, goth chord progressions, and intense anguish will project you into the heart of serious Italian dark dancing. ‘Five Lies’, another early piece, is a dramatic, gothically minimal piece, which revels in a slow, epic existentialism before opening up onto an intensely danceable modular synth extro. Things get even more interesting on Side B, where ‘Flax Girl Room’ is a heavy, swirling on top and pounding on the bottom piece which any lover of any form of wave should hear: terribly inventive but never ‘difficult’, the piece keeps a classic synth melody going through different washes and textures, with a certain amount of humour as well as a bleak erotic charge. ‘The act’, ‘The Waiting’ and ‘This Form’ show off the more sophisticated aspects of the band’s production – more akin to the kind of selection we heard on Mannequin’s LP of L.A.S.’s Crime material Disphoria 1985-1989 back in 2012. Although still powerfully obscure, these are tracks which experiment more with different melodic registers, and which show a different fascination for synthesis: spiralling bleeps and drones in layers of different octaves and intensities, voices recorded in the background, heavily echoed, distant, more adult and for that reason somehow more mysterious. The hammering, hymn-like ‘Today’s Sky’ is a highlight, partly also because of its strangely tender lyric (‘I cannot listen to all this anymore, please give me a kiss tomorrow morning, give me a kiss when I get home’), as is another version of ‘Ill Merrygoround’, which had been circulating in a more pulsating, ripping, violent version elsewhere.

The Mésmerique LP is a quick-footed, quick-minded collection of brilliantly restored tracks, but it is also something of a monument for what it salvages, for what it finally makes available  – these are some of the most cherished demos of Italian darkwave, and in terms of the genre, really, if you haven’t heard this you haven’t heard anything. And if you have, then you know that imagination plus magnetism produces an electric charge of diamond-like brilliance.

Read at Juno Plus: http://www.junodownload.com/plus/2015/09/25/l-a-s-s-crime-mesmerique/