Andrew Liles, the second Duke of Burgundy, third in line to the old French throne and now a broken-hearted (re)publican millionaire (his fortune in bacterial warfare, a subsidiary of Pershing), scores when he wants.He spends his time at his Bavarian recording castle, chasing peasants, scaring locals and recording recording recording. There’s Liles smears everywhere, even if you think you don’t own one of his records you’d be wrong. Look deeper, one of the Monster things will be there. He kicks around with Nurse With Wound, of course, and plays occasionally with Current 93‘s gnostic mass; but these two releases, with Andrew on his own (apart from all the cover girls, that is) sees him doing what he does best; ploughing a lone furrow, doing what the hell he wants.
First Monster is an instrumental, electronic cover of the first Sisters Of Mercy album. It needed to be done, I think, and to these ears works better than the original (I only really got into Peak Goth around the time Patricia Morrison joined and they got bass; First and Last And Always seems to miss bass, or miss the opportunity for bass, perhaps because Andrew Eldritch was so stuffed full of amphetamines his ears were tuned only to low treble).Liles’s version tinkles, sounds in parts like it’d make an effective soundtrack to Audrey Rose or one of those Flowers In The Attic films. It also lacks bass; being decidedly light (or maybe my ears have gone, I’ve not listened to anything other than these albums today) and quite bouncy (in fact it got me to go back back and listen to the original and that’s more bouncy than I remembered it too — practically Balaam and The Angel or Gene Loves Jezebel glam).
Do you need this? Perhaps, if you liked the original and you wanted to spin out your friends at the Goth Club. I’d recommend a few chunks of hash, maybe some speedballs to counter, perhaps a little acid (don’t take it yourself — Freq could never suggest that — but give it to your goth friends, we all have them, and sit them in a quiet room and put this on and talk to them about the old days; remember when Eldritch came out at The Forum in that all-white suit! Remember when Nicola broke her leg stage-diving, when you tried some frottage out on that panda-eyed girl and she punched you clean out of your eyeliner?) and, and… there’s some fun to be had. Bits sound like New Model Army demos and maybe you’ve been looking to get your clogs out? Other bits remind me vaguely of the Teutonic medieval-stomp classicisms of Will, who were somehow associated with Front Line Assembly (I could look it up, I suppose but… this isn’t that kind of review), though this is gentler than either of those suggests…
I’m enjoying it, I think. The artwork is beautiful and dark and scary.
On to Cover Girls, which billionaire Liles has clearly had in mind for years. It’s a Playboy mansion of fun in an alternate universe. Cover versions in a multitude of styles, Liles playing to the perverted but doing so with a lustful longing that again suggests: this needed to happen, I made it happen, it’s now happening; don’t judge me!You’ve always wanted a version of David Essex‘s “Rock On” sung by Cosey Fanni Tutti? Well, me too, and here it is. You’re welcome. This version has a Jac Berrocal quality to the music — slow,slurred, iPad dotted, creaky, eventually Paramount rocky — and isn’t as pretty as Essex’s (but what is?) and is, in fact, hardly recognisable; unlike, say, the version of “Morning Has Broken” which sounds like a found-sound vocal in the heart of one of those Graham Bowers (RIP) / Nurse With Wound albums. Is this a good thing? Sort of.
My favourite thing on here is the interestingly low-key and sultry version of “Video Killed The Radio Star”, since it seems to haunt the original and send it off to a place whence it’s unlikely to return (and sounds like the original should have sounded, if they’d heard it right the first time). Neubauten‘s “Zerstorte Zelle” is treated rather reverently, which renders it a little pointless, while other sub-transgressive erotica like “Moi… Lolita” (originally by, er, starlet Alizée) can’t add anything to the already seedy slow disco plod and ends up seeming even more creepy and (not) weird; prosaic male fantasy projected out and splashed on your face. Nabokov could just about get away with Lolita, I’m not sure this can.You can see what he was going for here, but the idea of getting “wonderful, unique, charming and beautiful women” to sing all the songs, while necessary and interesting (it’s good to see some of these characters foregrounded, rather than reduced to hired help / backing singers), requires rather deft manipulation of form and Liles doesn’t always manage this in a way that genuinely contributes or subverts. This is always playful but, despite the Top Of The Pops cover, you feel that Liles was hoping for something more analytical, as if he was playing with the ambivalence itself, messing with the gender roles and hoping for some tension.
It doesn’t always happen. Sometimes, very little is gained from an addition of a female voice and it’s slightly disappointing, bearing in mind that this guy is clearly a zillionaire genius, that he can’t fuck with the forms a little more. If anything, this feels a little rushed, as if he felt the idea was out there and someone else was going to pounce on it. I’ve played this album three times straight now, trying to figure out what I think about it; I don’t think I’m as confused as I should be.