So we consider the King of Nothing Nowhere to be an ally and a comrade of ours in local music. And a genuinely nice guy that we can’t say enough good things about.
Which is what makes this so difficult. He sent us his latest album to review, “Her Words, My Mouth” (which is also released under the name ‘Being Both’ as if he doesn’t already have enough confusing monikers).
In general we found the recording to be painfully yet disingenuosly sad. The cold wave/minimalist dark synth genres has never been one of my favorites, and this is no exception. There are only a few redeeming qualities of this recording which is otherwise a very difficult listen.
It sounds like it really maybe a sweetly innocent rendering of a highschool crush and possibly love letter exchange (?). But the feelings just aren’t there anymore, if they ever were.
And a lot of hard work was clearly done on the record; Christopher Brown is credited with ‘recording and mixing’, which means he played every instrument on the album. And there are a LOT. Synths, drums, guitars, vocals, all kinds of keyboards. The other half of ‘Being Both’, Shannon LaRue (perhaps the object of the King’s affections or previous relationship), wrote all of the words on the album, speaks some of the passages, and did all the artwork.
Every song is fleshed out just enough to create a low, depressing mood of anguish and longing. However, what is actually conveyed is a sense of trying to convey these moods and failing. The inspiration just doesn’t feel real. It’s like someone trying to recreate and get back intense feelings they had a long time ago, but so much time has passed that it’s just a faint memory.
Don’t get me wrong all of this may be wrong, it may have just happened. It may be totally true or complete fiction, but the record makes it sounds like complete fiction. The suspension of disbelief never began for me. I don’t feel sorrow, I don’t feel regret or nostalgia, the record doesn’t remind me of my own struggles or relationships, it just sounds artificial. Like someone trying to make a Cure record that’s never really experienced intense or brutal relationships that cut to the very fiber of your being and make you doubt your own self worth and purpose…
All of the keyboards, synths, live and recorded drums sounds and guitar parts sound just like the Cold and dark wave sounds that ‘the King’ is trying to achieve, but to be honest, most of the top records in those genres never did much for me either. Milking sorrow and nostalgia was done pretty well by the Black Heart Procession, but after a couple of albums even they started to just sound pathetic and disingenuous too, milking their own sorrow and inspiration and coming up short.
The vocals do their best to just sound bleak, but as soon as they start searching they get a bit unbeareable. The occasional insertion of female vocals from writer Shannon LaRue is a nice touch and works well; perhaps the whole of the album might have been better if the words were all coming directly from the writer and not ‘Her Words, My Mouth’.
It’s clear that the King is still experimenting, still searching for himself and what works and what doesn’t. We’re of the opinion that this doesn’t work. But we’ve heard plenty of other good things from the King and would suggest that he try again with a different genre. Because coldwave is brutally difficult to get right, and even when it is, a lot of times even its greatest most expert proponents and recordings are mediocre tooth pulling exercises.
Thanks for your submission. We look forward to where you go next, my Liege…