Thursday, November 05, 2009

Camouflage - Sensor

The last two nights I've pulled out my copy of Camouflage's Sensor CD. This was released in 2003. I didn't remember that it was that old, really, but like I said earlier, all the post-early 90s synthpop stuff kinda blends together to me.

Camouflage is one of those bands that's been around for a while. They actually released their first CD (in America) in 1987 ("The Great Commandment" single; the follow-up album came out in '88) but they'd been kicking around in Germany together as a band for a good three years or so before that. They had some early success ("The Great Commandment" and the single from their next album, "Love is a Shield") but then struggled to find a market. The trio went down to a duo, changed their sound, released a disappointing studio album (that nonetheless has the brilliant song "Heaven (I Want You)" on it), stumbled around failing to find follow-up commercial success and label support and almost leaving the music business altogether.

Happily, that didn't happen; in 1999 the trio reunited (the band member who left remained good friends with the two who stayed) and they recorded the single "Thief." However, due to label stuff, it took an additional four years for the album that it was supposed to lead off from to get released. FOUR YEARS! However, that album is Sensor and for my money, it's the best Camouflage CD ever made.

Camouflage recognized that a return to their roots was going to be important for this album, so it's a good, German, dark, melancholy and bleak synthpop CD. Unlike a lot of more recent synthpop, it's not full of overt club anthems with pounding pseudo-industrial or trance beats; in fact, it's rather slow-paced and introspective in nature overall. It's got some guitars (mostly acoustic, which is anathema to some synthpop purists, but isn't really uncommon the genre).

The nice thing about it (if you want to call it that) is the thematic unity and focus. The entire album is pretty grim in tone, but it's got an awful of lot beauty to it nonetheless. Camouflage of the past often struggled a bit with English lyrics, but these sound smooth written, smoothly delivered, and work very well.

I've attached a few Youtube clips. First up is an unplugged rendition of the song "Can't Feel You" which isn't too different from the album version. The album version is obviously more synthesizer driven and lush in comparison. Second is the song "Lost" which is my personal favorite. And I've topped it off with the single version of "Thief" although it's important to note that the album version is quite different from this one.

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