When you are one of the pioneers of electronic music and you have an extensive discography of wonderfully crafted music, there is always going to be an air of ‘what to do next?’. So with the release of ‘Splinter’, what does Gary Numan do? He goes and makes one of the best albums he has ever released in YEARS. Not only that, but he also managed to gain an entry in the Top 20 for the album charts, which became Numan‘s highest charting album since ‘Warriors’
Firstly, lets talk about the music. It is dark, it is moody, it is atmospheric. It is arguably the heaviest that Gary Numan has ever gone, but at the same time there is a wonderful pop sensibility to the music as well. One thing that is notable throughout the record is that this is a very bass heavy album. Whether it be the synths, the low end of the guitars, or just the overall sound, it is heavy as being crushed under a Sheffield steel mill. But regardless of this, the sound is very spacious and it is not overpowering by any means, allowing all mid and high end to come through equally.
It is a terrific blend of Industrial, alternative rock, electronica, and even at times… metal. As much as Gary Numan has had a clear influence on bands such as Nine Inch Nails and Ministry, it sounds like Gary Numan has been taking some notes from these guys on ‘Splinter’. Songs such as album highlight ‘Here In The Black’, ‘The Calling’, and ‘We’re The Unforgiven’ sound like they would not be out of place on one of NIN‘s latest offering ‘Hesitation Marks’.
But on the flipside there are some beautiful much tender moments from songs like ‘Lost’, and ‘Where I Can Never Be’, which just displays that Gary Numan knows exactly how to balance emotive ambience and striking yet soaring vocal prowess.
Another thing that I noticed is that on other album highlight ‘Who Are You’, there is actually an amazing contemporary EDM vibe. Although it is strictly an electronic / industrial song, there is a hint of production technique and songwriting which would not surprise me if it were put in to a dubstep or EDM remix.
But it is the last track ‘My Last Day’ that provides the most haunting of all tracks on this album. An ever rising track which Numan‘s tender vocals and the gentle piano blend effectively with some swirling synths, and almost stadium like drum programming. One of his most beautiful and defining moments in my opinion.
Secondly, I would like to talk about the production. It is absolutely sublime. I have analysed this album in and out in terms of production flaw, and I can honestly say that this is one of the most consistent and solid pieces of mixing and production I have heard in a good long while. So I absolutely tip my hat off to producer Ade Fenton for doing such a brilliant job at this.
The way that the songs flow with the mint production does ‘Splinter’ and absolute credit unto itself, and with this has created an ultimate musical package.
Ultimately, this is is a wonderful album in many ways. Musically, production-wise, and through personal observation. What Numan has done is just once again, channel in to the contemporary way of being able to reinvent himself as one of the most inspirational artists in electronic music. he is the David Bowie of the electronic world, and he is due far more respect and credit than he already has got.
‘Splinter’ is the finest record he has released in years, and on this account he is just as fresh, vital, and as important as he ever has been.
Score : 9/10