[Reviewed by Peter Marks]
Oh how the gods have favored us, we have a new Click Click album. An actual album. Not an EP, not re-mastered classics but an album.
If one word springs to mind which best describes what Click Click are it would be this: cunning. There have always been a series of moves planned out well ahead of where anyone could see this band going. They delivered the one-two knockout punches of “I rage I melt” and “Yakutska” but then abandoned the floor opting instead to finish their initial era with the deranged classic ‘Bent Massive’. A record that drew more than it’s share of dumfounded responses. Upon doing this, as though the goal had been reached and the mission accomplished, the two Smith brothers stylishly terminated Click Click and vanished into thin air.
They’d stay there for quite some time. However, nearing the end of the 1990s , they put aside whatever differences they had and spent two months working on what would become the puzzling question mark named ‘Shadowblack’. The name on the sleeve said their name but this was far removed from the days of yore. Adrian’s vocals were almost completely excised, the beats were more focused on a strange hybrid of drone and minimalist drum ‘n’ bass. Again, despite what could have turned into another strange era for them, they fell apart once more and dropped off the face of the Earth; it was during this time that events began to unfold which would point them back together to make ‘Those Nervous Surgeons’.
Numerous projects were initiated: Paperhouse, The Toy Shop, Skripglow, Theatre of Sound and within the last year a bizarre mixture of ambient textures called Coppersun.
Now we have them back as a unit doing Click Click and it once again manages to utterly confound my ears. Because it doesn’t sound like where I had thought they would go. It’s not EBM, it’s not breaks or any kind of Junglist head trip. What it contains are some of the smoothest tracks they have ever done, all throughout their massive career they have come close to this… when you hear the drums hit on “Man in a Suit” you’d better hold on tight because it is only going to get more precise as these surgeons operate.
“What Do You Want” showcases heavy hitting beats and a bass line that just won’t quit. This one illustrates their objectives quite nicely, it paints a picture of an iron-fisted surveillance society where the thoughts of the individual are what have become truly dangerous. To think for yourself is paramount to treason in this not so distant future. The limited run of what they’ve done comes with an additional CD of demos (and hopefully out-takes) along with a book which A. Smith has written entitled ‘The Eradication of Hate’. Not having access to this myself, I opted to read Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’ instead while listening. I do hope the author approves.
What really is impressive about ‘Those Nervous Surgeons’ is how unlike anything else it is. No wubs, nothing witchy and once more nothing catchy. Some compositional constants do remain, namely this band’s love of sampled percussion but they don’t treat it with much and you have to listen quite closely to be able to pick out where they’ve tinkered. Naturally, there is one main thing which remains unchanged and that is Adrian Smith’s voice. His vocals continue to scratch and claw their way across your mind, leaving your constitution invigorated. Their latest (and reportedly last but we’ll see) has the tone of an acrid, gritty and soot-laden place. Where everything has been processed and poisoned for so long that life can no longer be sustained.
Yet again, the Smith brothers dole out a hearty serving of misanthropic, darkly themed electronics and we, the audience are left with a series of unpleasant revelations to mull over. They could not have been presented or phrased more eloquently.