Gary Numan / Splinter [Songs From A Broken Mind]

Splinter (Songs from a Broken Mind)

Gary Anthony James Webb, better known professionally as Gary Numan (born 8 March 1958), is an English singer, songwriter, musician and record producer. Born in Hammersmith, London, he first entered the music industry as the lead singer of the new waveband Tubeway Army. After releasing two albums with the band, Numan released his debut solo album The Pleasure Principle in 1979. Most widely known for his chart-topping hits “Are ‘Friends’ Electric?” and “Cars“, Numan achieved his peak of mainstream popularity in the late 1970s and early 1980s, but maintains a loyal cult following.

Numan, whose signature sound consists of heavy synthesizer hooks fed through guitar effects pedals, is considered a pioneer of commercial electronic music.

Splinter (Songs from a Broken Mind) is the twentieth studio album by English musician Gary Numan, released on 9 October 2013 by Mortal Records and Cooking Vinyl. The album debuted at number twenty on the UK Albums Chart on sales of 6,187 copies, becoming Numan’s highest-charting album since 1983’s Warriors.

The Analysis—-

I Am Dust—-The Numan of the new century has a very distinctive sound….and from the first strains of this release, you hear it loud and clear. What has never changed is the remarkable sonic yet disassociated vocal.There is a warmth in the music…but a frigid sound to the voice…..full of distaste…pain and loneliness….this is all here in your face. The music is intense….dark and driven by crashing Industrial sounds…but it still has a humanity to it all. This is remarkable.

Here In The Black—-Deep and full of the mechanical effects you would expect, this song opens up with a brilliant synth line that just makes me melt. There is very little that this man could do to make myself distance from him and his music. The vocal is delivered in a manic whisper accompanied by a sparse beat that is full of trademark references to disdain for God and belief. It is that huge synth line that emerges to propel the song that makes it so remarkable. This is just incredible….I love this man.

Everything Comes Down To This—-Without a doubt, my favorite track from this release. The song has a huge actual human element to it….it speaks of difficulties in life and relationships….that despite how famous you may be, life has real problems that will never cease to be. Numan practically begs to be understood and given another chance. He begs for love and understanding. The dissonant vocal makes it even more emotional…while the driving synth on the chorus makes you realize the urgency of the matter at hand.

The Calling—-With a slight higher pitch to  the main keyboard line that runs through the song, this is alas, not much happier. At times, it plays like a soundtrack to a very sad movie. These are personal tales of love…..the danger of losing it….and the battles to keep it. There are magical Industrial sounds throughout the track…keeping everything slightly uneven….as is life. This is remarkable.

Splinter—-Giving off a slight tribal synth line at the onset of the song, the deep hum of sound still lies underneath all of the effects. The keyboard generated female vocal is eerie and flowing and soon Numan enters. Espousing once again on God and his dis-belief…his sense of abandonment and his staunch inability to believe in anything but himself. This is stark….dark and naked…yet full of a remarkable warmth that sucks you in somehow. This is brilliant.

Lost—-Stark…..naked and heartbreaking. There is such a sadness here…it makes me want to know every aspect of this man’s personal life…to know where this pain comes from. The lonely piano that lays the basis for the track is so beautiful that you feel tears in the back of your eyes. The surprise huge explosion of noise towards the end makes you feel the emotion and the pain. This is masterful. Dreadfully sad….but so incredibly real.

Love Hurt Bleed—-Deep at the onset with a creaking synth line that builds and builds until it conjures up early NIN. Numan enters with a more jaunty vocal that is none the less a bit desolate. This track has an incredible pace to it. The ups and downs and the lighter synth lines are a nice break after a few songs of such a personal and dark nature. This is stellar…I can see the flashing strobes from his show in my minds eye….this incredible!

A Shadow Falls On Me—-A very odd higher pitch vocal ushers in this track that has never set well with me. The music is stark and bleak…matching the odd vocal. I don’t really care for this…but I can say the lyrics are real and intense…perhaps that was the purpose all along.

Where I Can Never Be—-Returning to a melody that is very familiar throughout this release, you are welcomed back into the deep somewhat depressed nature of this album. I feel such hurt and sadness listening to this….it is as if the pain is mine….that is true connectivity. This is incredibly real.

We’re The Unforgiven—-Deep but jaunty, with distorted vocal lines at the onset, this reminds me of early Industrial sounds like Nitzer Ebb. The effects give way to a grand sweep that dives back into darkness just as quickly. The one constant is the whine of the pleading vocal…that belies all feeling and makes everything human. Loss….love…need…..pure and simple.The track ends quite noisy and pleading…..just masterful!

Who Are You—-Jaunty and delivered with a driving synth line, again,,,song placement is everything. The vocal is delivered straight forward and without effect….letting you feel all the questions that Numan continually asks that un for seen being we worship. This is brilliant in delivery…..but also in the pace of the incredible synth line.

My Last Day—-Ending the release on a very somber and sedate tone, you can’t….no matter how hard you try….erase the sadness and the difficulties that this record exposed. Taking a man who is so adored and putting such a human face to him made me love him even more. This is a  spectacular album.

***** out of 5

 

 

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