Want List: Visage – Hearts + Knives [album IV]

Blitz Club | UK | CD | 2013

Blitz Club | UK | CD | 2013

Visage: Hearts + Knives UK CD [2013]

  1. Never Enough
  2. Shameless Fashion
  3. She’s Electric (Coming Around)
  4. Hidden Sign
  5. On We Go
  6. Dreamer I Know
  7. Lost In Static
  8. I Am Watching
  9. Diaries Of A Madman
  10. Breathe Life

When we last glanced in the direction of the reformed Visage, we had only a photo to review and the promise of more to come. A few months later and now we’re in the middle of a style storm! The new album is “Hearts + Knives” and we have a lovely cover snap from Peter Ashworth [“Visage” – 1980] and more facts that paint an ever more detailed image of Visage ca. 2013. The album hits the street on May 20th and it features ten [just ten!] new songs that the current lineup have recorded over the last year or so. As we reach the finish line, more highly encouraging facts are now known.

mikemacneilFor instance, when we last covered them, the presence of massive guitarist Robin Simon had been revealed, and in an alternate universe where a butterfly wasn’t stepped on by someone in New South Wales, Australia [in 1961], he was the original Visage guitarist from the word go! That alone was massive buy-in from me. But now others have been revealed. Original Visage keyboardist Dave Formula managed to get a day pass from Magazine to reprise some of his keyboard stylings for the new album. This is right and proper. But new facts emerge that paint an even better picture. For instance ex-Simple Minds keyboardist Mike MacNeil has co-written two cuts and lent his fingers to some analog synths on the album. So… members of Ultravox, Magazine and now Simple Minds are contributing to Visage! That’s a post-punk hat trick in my book. Now I am ready to buy!

The pre-release single is “Shameless Fashion” and cuts a lithe figure like some lost ’79-80 recording by the band as I said, in that alternate universe where Robin Simon was their lead guitarist. Steve adds the Steeveness of it all with a brash confidence that is absolutely right, with Lauren adding femmevox that sound right at home. The guitar work by Simon is causing frissons of spine tingling pleasure as I type these words. It all sounds really warm and human, while cutting a sharp path to the dancefloor. The band have released an equipment list for the album that warms the cockles of my heart, so I’ll share it with you here.

  • PRS SE EG Guitar (custom)
  • John Dixon Guitar (custom)
  • Fender Jazz Bass 70s
  • Washburn XB400 Bass
  • Alesis Andromeda A6
  • Moog Polymoog
  • Korg 770
  • Korg MS-20
  • Korg Polysix
  • Moog Source
  • Roland Jupiter-8
  • Roland SH-09
  • Roland SH-7
  • Roland CR-78
  • Roland Juno-106
  • Roland CR-78
  • Roland System 100M,
  • Siel Cruise
  • Yamaha CS-20M
  • Yamaha DX-7
  • And No Soft Synths!

Ooof!! Check out that last bullet! [claps] I’m ecstatic that Steve is guiding the band to the space I’m most excited to hear them in. Soft synths are an easy crutch but in my opinion, sound compromised. I can see where they have a place live just for ease of use, but on record, there’s no excuse for such laziness! A band’s albums should sound as good as possible, and that means analog tech, for better or worse. Speaking of sounding good, the band have also weighed in on the loudness wars and have proclaimed that:

“…when it came to final mastering, the band opted to avoid the loudness war and it’s overly bright, harsh & bassy 2012 brick-wall sound.”

How much more enticing can this band make this return from the shadows? How about some DLX love? Interested parties may pre-order the album in full-res download for convenience and quality as 16 bit WAV files from the Visage webstore for £7.99 and two bob more gets you the full CD with a download on the day of release of 320 KBPS MP3s. That’s pretty good, but I think I’ll opt for the DLX package that offers the CD signed by Steve Strange along with:

  • “Shameless Fashion” 4 track promo CD
  • “Frequency 7” 3-track CD single [previously mentioned here]
  • Visage stickers

Lots to love for only £20! And it’s lovely after the last post to see another core collection band offering good packages that don’t break the bank! I think I’ll also opt for the “Shameless Fashion” remix CD single.

Blitz Club | UK | CD | 2013 | BZCR010

Blitz Club | UK | CD | 2013 | BZCR010

Visage: Shameless Fashion UK CD5 [2013]

  1. Original
  2. John B Remix
  3. Extended Remix
  4. Diaphanoids Psychallucisergic Version
  5. Italian Version
  6. German Version
  7. French Version
  8. Japanese Version
  9. Instrumental
  10. Radio Edit

The commercial single reprises the foreign language versions on the promo while adding remixes, which I’m interested in hearing. Especially that old-school sounding “extended remix.” It looks like Steve Strange has landed on his feet after a rough period. He certainly seems to have guided this project exactly where I’d like to have seen it gone, that’s for certain. Visage were all about well played electro dance rock music by people with lots of talent and the fashion sensibilities of Steve Strange giving it all a focus. It looks and sounds like that hasn’t changed in the new millennium. The Monk is talking it like he’s walking it, here. As poverty stricken as I am, some very desirable CDs have sold in my auctions*, and after meeting my repsonsibilities, I have a miserly surplus that you’d better believe I’m spending on this music! The order is confirmed and I’ll be glad to review this in a few weeks.

– 30 –

* Fact – I made my car payment with the proceeds of just three Depeche Mode singles!

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | media design • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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6 Responses to Want List: Visage – Hearts + Knives [album IV]

  1. zoo says:

    What, no Prophet 10? How could I possibly want to listen! Couldn’t they get Richard Barbieri to play on it as well?

    Just kidding, of course. I’ve heard the single prior to your blog post, and I agree it’s pretty good. Didn’t know Michael MacNeil was involved. Anything that gets this guy recording again is OK by me. Can’t wait to hear the whole album.


    • postpunkmonk says:

      zoo – Well, I certainly won’t ding them points for including my personal bete noir of digital synths, the dreaded Yamaha DX7. Because they are doing everything else better than perfect. I mean, even I didn’t think of adding Simple Minds DNA to Visage at this point – and I’m shamed at that! Wait, they didn’t get Derek Forbes on bass… deal’s off!!! Of course I’m joking, but I certainly would have rather heard Forbes here than in Big Country, his new gig. Eccch, frankly. I was never a Big Country fan, but how they can have said band without Stuart Adamson is beyond me.


  2. JT says:

    It all looks good on paper… in fact, very very good on paper… but the deal-breaker remains to be seen [or, hopefully, not]: *how are the songs*?


    • postpunkmonk says:

      JT – Well, I like the single a lot. It recalls the first album more than anything else to me. The guitar is killer, and maybe this rocks more than dances, but I’m fine with that. It’s way better than the poor material on “Beat Boy,” though at least half of that album has been acquitted by time. I think it’s way better than the new Ultravox! I liked Visage for the musicians that the original project was built from, and though the material was lighter thematically, the musicianship that was put into the group made it work, in spite of the featherweight status of Strange. Now, Midge, Billy, Barry, and certainly John are gone*, and the whole enchilada is in Steve’s hands. I’m pulling for him to not embarrass himself, and the creative decisions made for this project sure as hell seem like he’s taking the bull by the horns and not cutting creative corners. I didn’t mention it, but the group sought out Martin Rushent for pre-production pointers and executive producer advice, which he was involved with before his death. Rushent, of course, initially gave the band their leg up when he backed the group for their debut single, “Tar,” in 1979. Tune in in a few weeks when the CD ships and I’ll let you know exactly what I think about it.

      * I view anything without Midge Ure involved as a huge plus these days.


  3. JT says:

    Oh, also, as a fellow DX-7 hater, I was sad to see the Alesis Andromeda A6 first on the synth list.
    That thing is pretty awful. No different than a softsynth, but just stored on a chip in a box instead of on a hard drive…


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