Assemblage 23/Early, Rare & Unreleased Vol. 1 & 2

These two collections were released over 2008/2009 as a stop-gap between new releases by Tom Shear. The releases are an interesting cornucopia of sound from the early days of the band to more recent outtakes. The new release, Compass, is slated for October 2009.

Vol. 1

Live Intro [1996]—-Swirling in atmosphere and a dark approach, this intro serves as a stark reminder of Shear’s genius. Interspersed with Industrial beats and a disturbing scream reverberating in the backdrop, it makes me wish I were at that show.

Mortuary [1988]—-Filled with a heavy 80’s synthesizer sound, Shear still sounded great. The tales is one of familiarity…alienation, despair and darkness. The highlight is the great momentum of the song. This was brilliance and the beginning of a great mass of material output.

Anger [1992]—-With an almost trademark Numan synthesizer beat, the song has a strong nod to the Industrial movement that was blossoming at the time. This reminds me of Nitzer Ebb at times, but as Shear shifts into a clean vocal, he morphs into the genius of himself. The ominous voice in the backdrop of the song proclaiming “I’m going to kill somebody, it might as well be you” is chilling and disturbing.

Chemical Restraint [1992]—-The song emerges from a swirling landscape of sound and ushers in a great synth line that is almost Depeche Mode in nature. The sounds are slowly added to the mix as it becomes fuller and fuller. The feel of the vocal is classic Shear. This is wonderful and it’s amazing to me that it was not released as a single. This encompasses all the reasons I love this man all rolled into one.

Straitjacket [1988]—-Reverting to another heavily 80’s influence, the synth is classic cheese. Only the vocal and the lyrical content save this song from becoming a non entity. The clear vocal of Shear echoes many of the dis enfranchised tone of the 80’s electronic scene. This is nice, but almost too predictable.

Ambush [1994]—-Machine generated beats have never sounded this good!!! This is classic and should be heard by any fan of this band. Shear can compose a song with the best of them and this has all the classic Shear sounds. The music includes a dark edge to it by including a low hum throughout, but the overall tone of the song is a tad more upbeat than normal. this is a fabulous instrumental track. A great way to begin a mix CD.

Soma [1992]—-Filled with a bit more dirge, the song begins like a NIN track, but opens up into a mag nus opus of grandeur. Shear hits a comfortable noisy level and allows the song to lay low again as his vocal enters. Tom sings of heartbreak and disdain, loss and loneliness, fear and darkness. This is fantastic!!

The Angels Died [1994]—-With just a slight intro, Shear enters immediately with the vocal. The tone is almost monotone, but gets the point across with a masterful effect. The music again swirls with the chorus and envelops you with the loneliness that Shear so well projects. This is another classic track that could have been…..

Wish I Was Dead [1988]—-Again, the song has a slight poppy feel to it that reflects the time. Shear sings in a slightly higher tone that becomes him. The song is still devoid of happiness or elation. Sticking true to the title, the song speaks to it is an incredibly haunting way. This is fantastic.

Underneath The Ice [1995]—-Magnificent!!! The future was written for Shear around this time, as he found his true mark on the music world. This is a brilliant display of the deep intellect of tom and his ability to get that across in a musical fashion. this is brilliance!

My Burden [1997]—-Bass heavy and full of dread, this is typical Assemblage fair. Not to discount the brilliance of the track. The vocal enters with a distortion and anger that is rare for Shear. This borders on brutal Industrial madness and is a pleasant and welcome surprise. Shear knows how to mix things up and this is a great example. The song sounds like it is right out of the Ministry songbook. Incredible.

The Fissure King [1996]—-Much more danceable and progressive than the previous track, Shear again offers up a vocal that is clear and slight in monotone. The chorus opens up with a slight brutality, but the music over powers the vocal and makes you want to trance dance and lose yourself in the beat. This is magnificent.

Void [1998]—-Structurally, the song is instant in recognition. Once you are an Assemblage fan. you recognize the sound instantly. shear delivers a vocal that is morose and slight in mutation. The tone of the song reeks of darkness and loneliness. This is masterful and just what we have come to expect.

Requiem [1998]—-The music has a slight 80’s feel to it that is odd to hear for the time this was recorded. The song is almost poppy in nature and the synth waves that come and go with the song suck you into the whole atmosphere of the composition. This is nice.

***** out of 5


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