RECOIL Unsound Methods (Reprise)

Alan Wilder (ex-Depeche Mode) goes leaps and bounds beyond ‘Bloodline’ with ‘Unsound methods’. His choice to use four different vocalists comes across as strange on the outset but as the album plays, you can hear the reasons.

Wilder’s new stride sets pace with the slow build towards a solid, driving beat of ‘Incubus’. He almost corrects the failures of goth in his choice for a vocal style similar to Leonard Cohen. ‘Drifting’ begins with a very tribal nature, and with a slip-slide, it takes off. Very Portishead but the style and production stem more in dub.
On ‘Luscious Apparatus’, Maggie Estep steps in on vocals. From a slow start, ‘Luscious’ builds stamina, dimension, and finally BPM as Estep bellows forth in her trademark flamboyance. ‘Control Freak’ walks a very close line with Nine Inch Nails in the intro but eloquently exhibits the contrast between sung and spoken vocals. ‘Missing Piece’ and ‘Shunt’ are quite complementary. With their dub and trancy feel, they are sure to be the dance-hall hits. ‘Last Breath’ rings similar to Enigma as the vocals whisper soft and sultry through the melodies.

By far, this album demonstrates the music talent that was once behind Depeche Mode. Hopefully the tracks will not fall upon deaf ears.

, Winter '97

RECOIL Unsound Methods (Reprise)

Alan Wilder, ex-Depeche Mode keyboardist, has distanced himself from his former outfit with the dark tones of his side-project Recoil’s third release, Unsound Methods. Not since The The’s Infected or David Lynch’s Blue Velvet, has an artist crafted such an intense, brooding collection of modern morality tales masquerading as pop music, using film imagery and atmospherics. Those expecting the melodic harmonies and tunes of the Mode, will be alienated by the lurching dramatics and gothic aspirations of Recoil’s sound.
Gathering a diverse collective of singers / artists - ex-Nitzer Ebb vocalist Douglas McCarthy, New York spoken-word artist Maggie Estep, Southern gospel singer Hildia Cambell and first-time English vocalist Siobhan Lynch - Wilder surrounds them with mesmerising, dub-infected soundscapes of beauty and terror. You’d better leave the lights on for this one.
Opener ‘Incubus’ sets the mood with McCarthy method-acting ‘the grim reaper’ walking amongst an unsuspecting populace. His black-pitch vocals drip Hitchcockian menace, while snippets from Apocalypse Now add to the mood. ‘I’m alive’ he spews to a cancerous, pounding heart of darkness. Even Freddy Krueger would pause before entering Recoil’s nightmare.

Lynch’s vulnerable singing lifts ‘Drifting’ to a safer realm. Marimbas, timpani drums and lush trip-pop rhythms cocoon the listener from the damage done by ‘Incubus’. But it’s a short-lived rest
The icy chill of ‘Luscious Apparatus’ combines the sci-fi erotica of J.G. Ballard’s Crash with the bohemian street-seat of poetess Estep. Like Patti Smith fronting Orbital, horrific lyrics slip the key into this Pandoras Box, daring the listener to peek inside it’s unflinching account of rape. Only the bravest need apply.
‘Stalker’ borrows from the Peter Murphy / Love and Rockets catalogue with lovely guitar cascading over industrial hooks adding much-needed warmth. McCarthy’s reading of the title character is chilling, like Ministry without the buzzsaw theatrics. It’s a shadowy narcotic.
The Southern Gothic epic ‘Red River Cargo’ takes a riverboat cruise up the Mississippi only to find harrowing evil at every mooring. Voodoo chants, redneck rants and bayou thugery battle the sweeping orchestrations and gospel purity of Cambell’s wondrous soprano on this techno spiritual. Recent bands like Spiritualized and Primal Scream have also tackled musical tableau on Southern race relations but Recoil’s wide-screen treatment packs the biggest wallop.
Estep returns for more word-play on ‘Control Freak’, an electro-stomp about obsession gone awry. ‘Missing Piece’ drips in melancholia as Lynch’s vocals flirt with Tori Amos dreaminess in the beautiful chorus. Loneliness never sounded so inviting.
‘Last Breath’s sensual blend of tape loops, big strings and Cambell’s innate vocals, spill-over with symphonic grandeur, with it’s tripnotic groove building to a thunderous climax.
‘Shunt’ closes Unsound Methods with helicopter blades mixing with railway sounds combining for a trance-inducing mechanical mantra that explores psychedelia and modern classical music’s shared sense of adventure in sonics. Slap on those headphones now.
Recoil positions Wilder in a flattering new light. Proving he’s more than just ‘keyboard-for-hire’ with Depeche Mode, his experimental side will probably not rule the charts but will certainly propel his name into a new pantheon of artistry. His methods are anything but unsound.

The News, November ‘97

RECOIL Unsound Methods (Reprise)

What used to be a side project for ex-Depeche Mode keyboardist Alan Wilder, became his main gig when he left the band. Recoil is a deluge of Wilder’s dreamy soundscapes presented with various guest vocalists, including Maggie Estep. ‘Last Breath’ could be culled from DM and ‘Luscious Apparatus’ tells the eerie tale of two mayonnaise factory workers whose poetic sex turns violent. Good stuff.

Rolling Stone Online, November ‘97

RECOIL Unsound Methods (Reprise)

Pretty cool stuff. Recoil is Alan Wilder’s new project. Alan was formerly a member of Depeche Mode, a band that never really pushed my power buttons. Based upon this CD, I’d say that Mr. Wilder made the right choice to leave his former band. His solo stuff is much better. The disc features nine trippy tunes with a heavy emphasis on production. This may not appeal to all Depeche Mode fans, because it is clearly directed at a very different group of listeners...(4 out of 5)

Baby Sue, December ‘97

RECOIL Unsound Methods (Reprise)

Many Depeche Mode fans remember Alan Wilder as the man behind the band’s dynamic sound. No longer with the group, Wilder has put all of this creative energy into his latest Recoil project. This album has a definite dark feel to it. The song ‘Luscious Apparatus is captivatingly disturbing, as vocalist Maggie Estep tells a tale of fantasy gone sour. The rest of the songs are very cinematic, especially ‘Incubus’, influenced by the film classic Apocalypse Now. The most remarkable thing is that each track has an independent sound and theme, a rarity scarcely found within most bands. This album is a definite pick-me-up for any languished Depeche Mode fan.
(4 1/2 out of 5)

Hook, Line and Sinker, January ‘98

RECOIL Unsound Methods (Reprise)

For Alan Wilder, there is life after Depeche Mode. A major contributor to Depeche Mode’s sound for over ten years, Wilder is on his own under the monicker Recoil. ‘Unsound Methods’ is a dark, atmospheric work that contrasts with the Mode’s electro-pop sound. Wilder gets a chance to exercise his artistic and creative vision and he even incorporates turntable scratches and cinematic backdrops on a track like ‘Drifting’.
Featuring guest vocalists such as Maggie Estep, Douglas McCarthy, Siobhan Lynch and Hildia Cambell, Recoil reflects a bold and adventurous step for Wilder to move on.

Good Times, January '97

RECOIL Unsound Methods (Reprise)

“Back in ‘85, Depeche Mode were pop culture icons and Alan Wilder’s side project, Recoil, stirred imaginations. It was likely to have surprised record buyers thinking his 1 + 2 and Hydrology records were extensions of his talent at creating dark, brooding dance pop. They were scary landscapes of samples and numbing sequences. Diehard fans of the Mute record label ate up the Recoil stuff with the same ‘underground’ fever they consumed Wire avant side projects Duet Emmo, He Said, Dome etc. Recoil’s latest offering explores an entirely different direction, one heading more toward the Mo’Wax downbeat camp with warm, soothing Portishead-like femme vocals and identifiable trip-hop drums. Still extracting plenty of samples from folks like label mates Yaz and the ambience world at large, Recoil’s palette is intently focused on depicting the world as a dark, foreboding place.”

(Source unidentifiable)

RECOIL Unsound Methods (Reprise)

“The anticipation for this album has been growing since the news of Alan Wilder’s departure from Depeche Mode. Well, Alan and his project ‘Recoil’ are finally here. The album , entitled Unsound Methods is very unique and very non-mainstream. The music is a mengarie of soundscapes that entice the listener and embellish the vocals. The music is ambient, yet it has a defined groove that is just enough to move the listener through the scenes that are painted with the various guest vocalist’s words and vocals.
The music does have it’s peaks and valleys yet never quite seems to explode or get the listener to the place that the listener so desparately longs to go. Guest vocalists appearing on this album include Nitzer Ebb’s Douglas McCarthy, who’s ‘Incubus’ and ‘Stalker’ are both haunting and definately dark. Other vocals are provided by Maggie Estep, Siobhan Lynch, Hepzibah Sessa, Hildia Cambell and even Alan himself on the final track ‘Shunt’. Overall, this album is an experiment in freedom, sound and imagery; all things that Alan knows. This won’t thrill everyone but it will entertain many.”

Synth Music Network, Autumn '97

RECOIL Unsound Methods (Reprise)

“If the Depeche Mode sound is desired in the new Recoil album Unsound Methods, Depeche Mode will not be found. Although the mastermind behind Recoil is former Depeche mode member, Alan Wilder, his new album has an original sound like nothing heard before, including Depeche Mode and previous Recoil releases. Unsound Methods is the third Recoil album; the first to be released under Reprise Records. A combination of a tripnic, haunting atmosphere as well as tribal drum beats and scary, sultry lyrics, Wilder has created what he says is a “jungle of imagery invoking fear, paranoia, longing and lust in equal measure.” He feels that if it doesn’t send a shiver up listeners spines, then it is not truly effective. The demonic, lonely mood can definitely creat this effect.
Contributing to the variation of sound is Wilder’s use of different lyricists and vocals. Former Nitzer Ebb singer, Douglas McCarthy, performs in the songs ‘Incubus’, a lighter, Enigma-esque beat of tribal drums and airy undertones; and ‘Stalker’, a dark song that might belong in a horror movie.

Unlike McCarthy, Maggie Estep is a poet from New York City who Wilder picked because she was “a different kind of rapper”. Estep performs ‘Luscious Apparatus’ and ‘Controlfreak’; a song that resembles the music of Lords of Acid with its techno beat and sexy, female vocals about getting high and experiencing sexual pleasure.
Siobhan Lynch’s vocals are refreshing and show clear emotion in the songs ‘Missing Piece’ and ‘Drifting’ with added background sounds of scratching records and snake-charming music to add dimension to her harmonizing.

The last of the vocalists featured on Unsound Methods is Hildia Cambell whom Wilder worked with on former Depeche Mode projects. She provides the cold blues of the song ‘Red River Cargo’, adding her gospel experience to the diverse sound of the album and sensuous sound of ‘Last Breath’.
In listening to the album as a whole, it’s as if it was made to tell a story. The beats blend together to make the songs a natural progression from one to another. Wilder says that if he were to attach a theme to Unsound Methods it would be one of psychological damage. With song titles like’ Stalker’, ‘Control Freak’ and ‘Last Breath’, it could also be one of abuse or obsession.

Although it may sound depressing at times, overall Wilder has put together a vexing album, merging differing lyrics and reverberating beats with ‘shivering pianos, seductive strings and a deep electronic pulse’ to give Unsound Methods a complimentary type of appeal.”

The Outlook, November ‘97.

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