After much deliberation it appears that New Romantic supergroup Visage is finally moving forward on that long-promised fourth album. It was some time in the last decade when I got wind of a “Visage MK II” being formed by Strange and several musicians of a decidedly younger stripe. At the time, heritage synth acts were being feted by the young electro upstarts of the last decade and Steve was making some headway after a well publicized personal setback. But apart from a charity download that I could never find and a track recorded with Punx Soundcheck [which I have never heard], all of the efforts seemed to have evaporated.
I’ve gleaned slivers of information from Rusty Egan’s Blitz Club website and as of today, I have discovered that Egan’s boutique label has released a remix of the killa Visage track, “Frequency 7.” Blitz Club records has released the original B-side version along with a remixed edit of the John Luongo remix as well as Rendome remix that is sparkly new. You can buy these here. If you’ve never heard the 7″ version of “Frequency 7,” then you’ve missed an almost completely different phenomenon to the much more ubiquitous dubbed out “dance mix” version available almost everywhere. Why not re-acquaint yourself with the original here and now?
If that’s what Visage has on their Soundcloud page in 2013, I take that as a good sign that the group is pointing in a good direction moving forward. A glance at the new Visage official website reveals even better harbingers of things to come from this band. The MK II lineup has been re-booted with something a little more “vintage.” Steve Barnacle was involved as a member of Visage [and even Strange Cruise] from the point of the “Pleasure Boys” single and his involvement bodes well for a sense of continuity in this new lineup. But my jaw dropped when I saw that the holy Robin Simon is in the group on guitar.
That they even have a guitarist is encouraging, but to pick the best possible guitarist that Visage could ever have, is pretty thrilling to me. I’ve gushed over Simon before. His contributions to the cream of Ultravox as well as his ongoing work with John Foxx after 1980 is impeccable. He added enormously to Billy Currie’s Humania project. Seeing him in the Visage fold tells me I have nothing to worry about. We will be in good hands. And lo and behold, ex-member Dave Formula has been moonlighting from Magazine and is tinkling the keys in his inimitable fashion for the upcoming album.
It’s funny. When I first got into Visage it was because it was a supergroup mashup of Magazine and Ultravox. The musicianship, production, and writing made for some great music. Then one by one, the musicians pulled out of the project, leaving only Steve to regroup in the mid-80s. “Beat Boy” was deemed a disappointment at the time, but little did we know what the imminent future had in store for us. Against all of the horrible albums by favorites in the ’85-’88 period, “Beat Boy,” barring a misstep like “Casualty,” had been acquitted by the march of time rather well. When I got the Cherry Red CD a few years back, I wondered what the “problem” had been with the album. What Ultravox made in 1986 was far, far worse. So I was pulling for Strange to get the Visage mothership aloft once again.
That he’s working with Barnacle again and had brought the hyper-talented Robin Simon into the mix has me pretty excited. If Strange wants to make a great Visage record, he simply couldn’t top bringing Simon into the process. That Dave Formula is there as well has me eagerly anticipating the results. Of course, the X factor is new female member Lauren Duvall. Visage has never had a female member and this could prove interesting. I’ll be following these developments closely.
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