German duo SHADOW MINDS (Charly Barth-Ricklefs and Michael Nielsen) tell us their truth in their latest album “The Arc of Truth” (September 2010, Danse Macabre Records). After one maxi CD entitled “Nemesis” (2006) and one full album called “Extend the Line” (2008) released with Nordlicht Records, SHADOW MINDS go full-blast with their EBM and synth-pop new album “The Arc of Truth” with Danse Macabre Records – home, among others, of BEATI MORTUI, DAS ICH, OTTO DIX or ROSENCRANZ.
The album comprises 14 original compositions, including one collaboration with ISAAC JUNKIE. Overall, the album charms from the very first beats, and does a great deal of moving around techniques and genres, to the extent that no one song resembles the other, and there is pure quality in the album’s composition and musical layout. “Standing Up”, the album’s first thrust, proposes an emancipated sound, which sounds modern and fresh, with Charly’s vocals unobtrusively fitting into the song. “Standing Up” is about the prominence of one’s own opinions in any life situation.
“Beyond the Grave” comes up next, with a piercing sound that calls up for a time of forgiveness and friendship that outlasts life itself. “You Drive Me Insane”, a jilted lover’s electro-lament, keeps the permanence of the previous track by talking about a belief in love till the end of time. A wonderful reflection on an idyllic past that needs not be forgotten, “Fight Your Way Back to Life”, an album favorite at VIVA MUSIC, does not add up to saying there’s no future: “You’ll be saved in the near future” sounds reassuring coming from SHADOW MINDS’ credibility base!
A better future seems to be the running red thread of the next song, too: “Reality” is a powerful blast about the uselessness of fantasy when it comes to reconciling one’s expectations and one’s vital environment. With a great electro ballad texture, “The World Is out of Joint”, connives with the thought that life is limited and useless, but that should not harden one to the point of being unresponsive to things that should truly distress us, such as children’s death and other calamities.
“Rain” comes up as a refreshing and intimate song, about a redeeming rain that obliviates all distress. “Bitter Suffering”, suffused with a feeling of immediacy and a delicate beat, narrates the story of a heartbreaking father and son separation. Being held back from the intimidating paternity for undisclosed reasons, the father wishes that life’s lessons bestowed upon him should reach the son, and therefore the son may one day understand the reasons behind the separation.
It is then time for SHADOW MINDS to give us a command to “Wake Up”, if not to a new morning, then out of the routine of living for trifling things, urging everyone to live more significant lives. It is the same message that “True Face” carries on, as well as the decisive “Homeland Calls”, with a military beat, that tells about the ridiculousness of fighting for one’s homeland in a distant land, when nothing compromises, really, your nation.
“Journey” opens the final sequence in the album, with a dual cry, in order to forget/in order to remember. The song, in itself a gem, is about a sacrificial departure, where the departing party feels a little bit like dying, echoing the verse from Edmond de Haraucourt’s “Rondel de l’Adieu” (“Partir, c’est mourir un peu”). “Waiting” is the ultimate proof one needs that SHADOW MINDS’ sound is not only mature, but also significantly personal: a song that tells you that absence can call up the most intense feelings, just like presence, and that bedecks itself in great atmosphere. “Walking Away”, the song featuring ISAAC JUNKIE, tells the story of broken hearts being unable to love – it has a special feel to it, and an undeniable anthem quality, that shows great appetite in creating music from the band’s members.
To sum up, the album is a wonderful creation and throws a totally fresh musical persona on the scene. If there are people who had their doubts, or were left wondering after a reverently reviewed “Extend the Line”, they should desist and fall in love, irremediably, with SHADOW MINDS.