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August 26, 2011

Placebo Effect – “Gargoyles & Galleries” Re-Release – Viva Music Album Review

Tracklist: “Mystress” * “Intoxication” * “Psychotrauma” * “Poison Tree” * “Brain Entrophy” * “Galleries of Pain (Bloody Pain Remix)” * “Intersection” * “Move (Animation Remix)” * “Psychological Drama” * “Devoid Soul (Salvation Remix)” * “Autopsia” * “Agony of the Mind” * “Dawn and Death” * “Lumph” * “Move” * “Galleries of Pain” * “Last Day” * “Hard WorkTracks 1-14 from the original tracklisting of “Galleries of Pain”. Tracks 15-18 from the original tracklisting of “Gargoyles”.

About Placebo Effect:

Christoph Kunze, Achim Windel and Axel Machens started Placebo Effect  in 1988. While Christoph and Axel already dabbled in music making with their project Pleasure and Crime, Achim brought to the band his interest in contemporary electronic music, from Skinny Puppy to Cabaret Voltaire, and from Kraftwerk to Gary Numan. After early live experiences that were on the verge of trespassing ban limits with their gory musical content and medical gowns they donned on stage, the acclaim came to the band with the 1990 Danse Macabre release of their “Gargoyles” EP and their success in a Zillo band contest. Also from this date, their collaboration to Das Ich’s Bruno Kramm dates; a collaboration that also brought their “Galleries of Pain” to fame. Their first full-length album of 1992 was followed by “Slashed Open” and “Manipulated Mind Control”, adding to the band’s portfolio sufficient material for their 1996 compilation “Past and Present”, a selection of the band’s finest. In 2003, after several years’ hiatus, the band got together again, and in 2011, Infacted Records honors their music by releasing a digital remastering of their first two materials under the contracted “Gargoyles and Galleries” title in their classics collection.

About Placebo Effect – “Gargoyles and Galleries” – Viva Music Review:

The placebo effect is a pharmaceutical expression of patients feeling improvement due to their belief in medication’s curative effect, notwithstanding the overall inefficiency of the treatment or inaccuracy of the diagnosis on the basis of which the drugs were medicated. Often, in clinical research, the term of ‘blind test’ is used to describe the assignment of medication to patients of the same ailing: to some the real research drug is offered, while to others a ‘blind’ substance is given, and the effects are monitored for research purposes. Taking further the analogy, being ‘served’ in 2011 Placebo Effect is similar in strength: you could be tricked into believing you’re listening to music created in recent years, but get out, twenty years ago! So there is a lot of context defamiliarization, of the good kind, when listening to Placebo Effect.

The compilation is top- and end-heavy. It contains a full-length album and an EP – nothing easy ahead for the listener! But, since it serves an already historical purpose, documenting the history of EBM and electronica, the new release of the two combined by Infacted Records is truly a feast! Let’s start from the eerie “Mystress”, which really imprints on the entire album: atmospheric, grand, illustrating a varied palette of sounds. “Intoxication” and “Trauma”, which formally belong to the same idea group, are just as appetizing, and “Poison Tree” gives you enough reasons to want to listen to it again. The latter track, which combines astutely the best of the band’s abilities in conveying strength, unforgettable rhythm and really groovy musical effect, is also important because of the juxtaposition it does of voice and instrument, very contemporary, indeed!

Brain Entrophy” is a good example of straight-up EBM, and the way it lures the listener into the deep forest of its sounds is really something. It is not unlike the next track, “Galleries of Pain”, the “Bloody Pain Remix” of which precedes in this historical restitution the raw rendition present on the “Gargoyles” end of the compilation. “Galleries of Pain” is, in its remixed form, at the same time an orchestra-worthy musical endeavor and a superb studio exercise in promoting the best of the original track: just like in the patent Placebo Effect corpus of songs, it gives out a strong observational element, it talks about itself as if in the making, it builds layer upon layer of sound and escalates to delightful new ranges of sounds. “Intersection”, as well as the remix “Move (Animation Remix)” (again, the original track is to be encountered on the “Gargoyles” leg of the re-release) are profound, interstitial and really catchy with their musical molasses – they have a cling film effect on the listener’s psyche that truly makes one want to listen to them over and over again. If it were not a crime in many parts of this world, to assume that “Psychological Drama” would definitely deserve to be erased from history and released as an original new track – it would definitely grab some awards! With its cinematic collage beginning, its fiber of music and definite incantation feel, it should be taught in schools where they teach how to accurately proffer musical soundtrack for movies. “Devoid Soul (Salvation Remix) does a great follow-up to the album’s already solid core, and “Autopsia” startles, entertains, and definitely keeps up with the cinematic vein of the album. While “Agony of the Mind” renders possible several parallels to the music of Skinny Puppy to quote just one similar artist, it is not devoid of personality, and it’s an amazing track just by taking into account the year it was released in; we talk about 1992, not 2011! “Dawn and Death”, as well as “Lumph” are equally impressive, and it is on this note that the Galleries of Pain” memorial ends, just in time to leave room for the original EP “Gargoyles”, which includes, alongside the original versions of “Move” and “Galleries of Pain” which you could listen to in remix in the previous album slot, the tracks “Last Day” and “Hard Work” which indeed cover up the same territory of worryingly well-harnessed havoc and diligent musicianship.

To recover both “Gargoyles” and “Galleries of Pain” nowadays is a truly laudable decision. With a history-in-the-making series, Infacted Records does a great job of highlighting an artist whose work would have stayed unknown to many were it not for this compilation. We definitely recommend listening to it, bearing in mind/forgetting altogether that it was created 20 years ago – the essential is to enjoy it, and that’s the easy part of the deal, anyway. Placebo Effect is really likeable, and if you get over the difficulty of listening to the entire album in one go, then you’re sure to have found a new listening fetish. We know we did.

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