The Vanishing
Still Lifes Are Failing

Label: Gold Standard Labs
Release Date: Nov-02-2004

Every generation discovers darkness in its own way. From the Stones painted-black tales of the devil to Bauhaus' residency in the Bat Cave to black metal rock's long had an infatuation with the dark stuff. Vanishing, in decidedly post-millennial, recycle-the-past fashion, turns toward the days of post-punk and early-years Goth for its guide through the dark, dreary rock underground.

The band moves slightly away from the rather formulaic post-punk of its first album, Songs for Psychotic Children, to embrace more modern electronics on Still Lifes are Failing. Although its an artistically noble step, it makes Vanishing a difficult listen.

For the most part, the band dispenses with the idea of song-based writing, instead putting its efforts into tracks that evoke atmospheres, which makes Still Lifes are Failing more of an experimental jaunt through the underground than most of the band's darkness-obsessed contemporaries. That means that you're more likely to find this album spinning as spooky background noises for next year's trick-or-treaters than pounding across the dance floor of a Sunday-night black mass at the dance club.

"Lovesick" drips syrupy, self-consciously electronic melodies over a disco-esque beat with its nagging high-hat clicks, although the skronk of a dying saxophone trades some of the band's chilly electronic sound for a more flesh-and-blood haunt. "Lovers in Hell" piles bursts of discordant guitars over a grudgingly insistent wall of eighth-note bass and a snare pattern inspired by The Cure's "100 Years" and military marches. In both, singer Jesse EVA's coolly aloof vocals put faint traces of human hands into the otherwise detached mix. "Cuckoo Spit" pukes grainy electronic melodies on top of the band's favorite gimmick, the saxophone squall, for an uncomfortable glimpse into the night.

Occasionally, Vanishing pulls it together for a track that is downright cool, but to do so, it chucks its choking atmospheres for post-punk blueprints. "Idle Eyes" puts purring synths over grainy beats with just enough speed to find its way into a dance-floor mix. "Still Lifes" layers EVA's vocals atop cunningly programmed sounds, but its not until Hann Elias' remix of the cut, which pushes distinctly modern IDM beats under it, does it find its footing.

More often than not, however, Still Lifes are Failing sounds more like a collaboration between Siouxsie Sue and Sark, the computerized evildoer in Tron. It's a noble effort, reworking the Goth standards to reflect modern days, but one that's ultimately doomed, as Vanishing proves that messing with the formula leads to bad Bauhaus B-sides than anything else.

1. Lovesick
2. Skin
3. Paralyzed
4. Lovers In Hell
5. 1.1
6. Still Lifes
7. 8.18
8. Cuckoo Spit
9. Your Image
10. Idle Eyes (Rough Demo Version)
11. Toothless Tigers
12. Still Lifes (Hanin Elias Remix)

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