Saddle Creek | The Faint | Reviews


Blank-wave Arcade

11/04/1999 | Splendid E-zine | | Album Review
Secret History: The year is 1981. Depeche Mode, fresh from recording Speak and Spell, find themselves moving more and more towards a punk rock sound. Not all of the band's members
are pleased with this new creative turn, and one opts to take his leave. His place is filled by Chicago's Al Jourgensen, whose efforts to take the group in a darker, more menacing direction
result in an album that is rejected by the band's label as being "unmarketable, and just a step above Metal Machine Music in listenability."

Undeterred, Jourgensen uses a bunch of old amp parts to build a time machine in his basement, and travels forward to 1999, where he persuades The Faint, a mild-mannered Midwestern foursome with one album under their collective belt, to release the album, which he has titled With Sympathy, as their own work. The Faint agree, though they quietly change the title to Blank-Wave Arcade after Jourgensen leaves.

Back in 1981, the rest of Depeche Mode are appalled that Jourgensen has taken such liberties with their music, and they boot him from the group. Heartbroken, Jourgensen thoughtlessly signs a contract with Arista and attempts, in vain, to recreate With Sympathy on his own, while
Depeche Mode pretend the collaboration never happened...

Okay, this probably isn't how Blank-Wave Arcade came to be, but it could be. The disc is a perfect mix of new wave, punk and early Wax Trax!, with a healthy dose of flourescent light ambiance and car crash sexuality. Some of the songs literally implode under the strain
of their own edgy existence, coming apart in a shower of clattering pieces. It's prickly, vicious, dispassionate solid state darkwave grooviness, and you really shouldn't miss it. Besides, you don't want to annoy Mr. Jourgensen.
Blank-wave Arcade

Blank-wave Arcade

LP / CD / MP3