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Voltaire | Almost Human | review | alternative | goth | rock | Lollipop
Almost Human (Projekt)
by Jamie Kiffel
Poor Devil! His pointy horns all saggy, big, steaming tears evaporating down his red-hot pout, he only wants to have his voice heard in Heaven. But as with so many oligarchies, some votes are allowed while others are simply tossed out. So with pop Goth satirist Voltaire as his smirking voice, the Devil will at least get a good laugh out of it.
A NYC Club scenester and comic book creator, Voltaire has discovered the alchemical formula to transform formal, minor key violins and proper Victorian speak into an aural tickle that makes skulls grin and devils tap their toes. "You'll kill my cat/ you'll break my balls/ you'll watch my cities fall... but not tonight," Voltaire sings with all the wistfulness of Bono lightly petting Robert Smith's hair. On the title track, Mr. V. sings seriously, expressing his pain at being cast from grace, "If I were a big boy I wouldn't cry/ but since I'm not a big boy I have to cry." Voltaire puts the fun back into morbidity.
Another stand-out track, "God Thinks" is a clever riff on evangelists and those who "use his name for (their) own protection," similar to Roger Waters' "What God Wants" (from Amused to Death), but cuter. "God thinks we should all covert to Judaism/ God thinks we should all embrace Islam/ God thinks the only true religion is Hinduism," Voltaire rattles. His conclusion, "God is you and me/ God is everything," is a touch too deep for this comic piece, but the song is still funny and strong.
For good measure, Voltaire has tossed a few classic Goth themes among the smiling cobwebs. "Anastasia" (a velvet-and-dry-bones name if I ever heard one) mourns the eerie disappearance of a little girl, with a tinge of something nefarious. "There's a field of flowers and they smell like you... You know I'd love to pick one for my lapel but you know there are too many insects watching/ I'm afraid they'll tell on me," the singer croons (guiltily?) in his rich, dark voice. Another capital-GOTH moment is "Dead Girls," about a man on trial for his questionable habits. "Take those 'living' women, They have never shown me any kindness of any kind... Have you ever tasted love like this, cool and smooth?" sings the culprit. For the shy Morrisseys among you, there's a ballad sung from a humiliated suicide's coffin, where "six feet of earth above my head/ don't keep me safe from what she said." But for the more sardonic cross-bearers, there's the cuttingly humorous "Headless Waltz," where we "sharpen up the blade, boys, what are you waiting for? Here's where we all get ahead!" Another great moment is "Alchemy Mondays," where the Goth man mocks his very own scene. Describing a club down on the Bowery, he sings, "There's a hideous man named Myke and a bunch of Gothic tykes... Don't get cake on your velvet cape here at Alchemy Mondays."
It's worth noting that the beats and rhythms often hearken less of fin de siecle than of Depeche Mode. Voltaire's website explains this: Mr. V.'s first album, The Devil's Bris (yes, I'm serious, even if he isn't), steals its sounds from somewhere around 1784. This album takes its tunes from 1984. Two hundred years is a big enough leap for one album, says Voltaire. "One step at a time, okay?!" Okay.
Voltaire is one of the few clever Gothsters who recognizes that mortality is simply one of the funniest ideas known to Man. Life? Death? It's all so serious, you've just gotta tie that devil hood under your chin, be careful not to catch your wings in the car door, and giggle all the way to oblivion.
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