The Burning Bridge is Noir’s fourth release and it is dedicated to David Bowie. Noir consists of frontman Athan Maroulis, formerly of Spahn Ranch and Black Tape For A Blue Girl and keyboardists and backup female vocalists Kai Irina Hahn and Demetra Songs. In this collection they continue in what Maroulis terms the “Electro-Gothic” style. Isn’t that what the rest of us call “industrial?”
With this EP, he has re-interpreted a number of lesser-known classics from the New Wave era and added a brilliant original piece, namely the title track, “The Burning Bridge.” For this track, he took a 40-second techno-instrumental groove by associate Erik Gustafson, digested it and set to it lyrics that envisioned himself or something like his ghost soaring through the night as a disembodied spirit. This artistic concept allowed him to look back beyond bridges that he had burned behind him to revisit experiences and repressed personal situations long since forgotten. He set this narrative to a perfectly danceable, electro-industrial rhythm track, richly overlaid with menacing deep, dark synthesizer melodies and his undulating, plaintive, yet angry vocals.
Noir turns Ministry’s pre-With Sympathy, 1982 upbeat obscurity, “Same Old Madness,” into a downbeat, lumbering slog through a knee-deep techno-industrial swamp, the heavy trudging paces marked by the mantra-like repetition of the title.
“The Chauffeur” continues in the persevering, slow trudge mode, not as ponderous, but still it retains the eerie negativity of the Duran Duran original, largely by unusual and somewhat discordant arpeggios and a zombie-paced cadenced percussion.
“In Every Dream Home A Heartache,” recorded live off a WFMU broadcast session, Noir’s version of Roxy Music’s creepiest piece, Noir slows it down even further to a funereal pace accompanying his mournful vocals with distant, echoing chimes, noise effects and instrumentals that might serve as the soundtrack for a horror movie.
The Burning Bridge offers musical pleasures of several varieties. First, there is an excellent new and original title track. Then there is the guilty pleasure of enjoying reinvented covers of lesser-known works from well-known artists. Finally, there is the unique, undulant vibrato vox of Goth-industrial pioneer Athan Maroulis to add a novel and classic touch to each of these tracks.