ZANG TUMMM TUMB ARTICLES “the first draft of history”

Love: And A Million Other Things (Island/All formats)

YOU ARE in Brussels, Berlin or perhaps Vienna. Rain drenches the lush grandeur around you, the decaying beauty of the old reverberating through the steel-hearted resolve of the new. Lotte Lenyas bitter gin-soaked words spill from a pavement piano bar while machine-tooled Eurodisco pumps from the glass-fronted brasserie opposite. Hands deep in raincoat pockets, you daydream about combining these two worlds in a single sound. You slide Claudia Bruckens debut album into your CD Walkman and lo! It is tinny and rubbish.

Not entirely true, of course, but too often the chiselled chanteuse of Propaganda and Act fame relies on an imagined mood of sophistication rather than anything so common as pleasant tunes and decent lyrics. Explore ‘Kiss Like Ether, currently smooching around the more exclusive suburbs of the charts, and you come across little more than a squelchy synthetic bassline and some polite bleeps.

Production is immaculate. Pascal Gabriel and Steve Nye — responsible for smoothing out SExpress, Bomb The Bass and David Sylvian — vacuum seal everything in chic solid-state surroundings. Claudia responds with the odd impressive flourish: mimicking New Order with cool banality on ‘Suicide and constructing the sublime ‘Moments Of Joy entirely out of sighs and Spanish guitar.

But no emotion, no surprises and precious little mystery. (5)