The Redeemer got a few spins in my CD player when it was released, but for some reason it’s become a mild obsession over the past week or so. It’s a very focussed work – you find yourself listening to it in its entirety rather than as a 5 shuffle jumble (i.e. what most albums are – only 5 tunes are ripped because only half the album is worth eartime, then they get played out of order because, well … fuck order).
Where was I? Oh yeah: focus and order. The Redeemer seems to tell a story. The lyrics allude to a break-up. The pain being expressed seems new, acute, intolerable, and crashes in waves over the main character (if it is a character: I guess I mean, the speaker/singer of the words/lyrics. Which aren’t documentary, and therefore – even if ‘true’ still can’t by their nature be un-fictive).
A strong sense off absence clouds the record, voicemail messages pop up here and there (some rendered largely incomprehensible due to volume or background noise) but the picture is clear: people at the jump-off point in the process of estrangement not speaking directly to each other, using machines instead. Cold mean unsoft machines. It’s a great counterpoint to the record’s skillful mix of sadness, possible depression, anger, regret, and slight madness. I don’t mean clinical madness, I mean the good madness, I mean “a bit bonkers”. Like, Sparks are/were bonkers. Devo were just annoying. I guess that’s the difference between being bonkers and otherwise.
There are few albums that you can open up and get into like a novel. In fact, other than The Redeemer, I can only think of two offhand: one is “Spiritualized’s “Ladies & Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space”. A very real story that isn’t social realism that takes you inside the mind of a junkie falling in love, getting his heart broken, then teetering right on the edge of an o.d. The question of whether he dies or not is left open. The other novel-album is Ghostface Killah’s “Fishscale”, a multi-threaded story about a group of drug dealers – part novel, part graphic novel, part opera, part comedy skit – and complete fucking genius.
The Redeemer doesn’t end on a note of hope. An automated voice says “You’ve no more messages”. Is it my imagination or is the automated voice saying this with an almost imperceptible note of disdain?