UK duo Death in Vegas have returned! After years and years! All hail Richard Fearless and Tim Holmes! No really. HAIL THEM.
The electro duo have a new album, called Trans-Love Energies, out September 26 . THIS IS VERY EXCITING. Particularly because the band have been talking about doing new music, for, oh, three or four years now. And it’s been a full SEVEN since their last album.
Also exciting is the fact that new single, “Your Loft”, features vocals from the otherworldly Torontonian, Katie Stelmanis from Austra. WHICH IS ALSO VERY EXCITING, because Austra is all kinds of great. The match sounds tremendous. Lightness into dark, good versus evil, you know, all the vital plot points.
My story about DIV goes back to ’94, with the release of their debut, Dead Elvis. That CD was dusky, dub-y, dirty slow grind dance music for early mornings after wasted nights. I fell in love HARD when it was released: “Twist and Crawl” (with the English Beat’s Rankin’ Roger toasting on it) remains of one of fave songs ever, and “Dirt” features a brilliant sample from a guy on stage Woodstock, as its driving backbone. Dead Elvis holds up. It’s dark, primitive and fantastic.
Admittedly, I fell a little out of love with subsequent DIV efforts over the years (though Scorpio Rising’s “Aisha” with Iggy Pop growls, was fab), but have always had nuff respec’ for Fearless’ sparse and edgy electro, no matter what.
So in ’96, I was ecstatic to hear of their impending arrival in Toronto. Fearless and Holmes brought with them 7 musicans, who crowded on a tiny stage at Lee’s Palace, and then blew the bloody doors off. One of those musicians was Ian Button, DIV’s longterm guitarist (formerly of Thrashing Doves) and now longtime friend of mine since that night. In my diary, I described that show as “stellar” and “throbbing”.
After the gig, me, Ian, a friend and Seamus the keyboardist, ran around trying to find rolling papers, then piled onto the tourbus and ended up in an all-back-to-theirs sort of scenario at the hotel for a full-room party. That night, an editor of the UK’s Mojo magazine, who was writing a feature on the band (back when magazine financed this kind of stuff, or, you know, paid writers), hit on me by asking me what my favourite sexual position was. Smooth, no? I declined to answer, and left alone at 4am. But it was a ridiculously fun night. Button – who also recorded as solo artist Anthony Anderson – even wrote a song about it and called it “Ontario Skies”.
I wouldn’t see DIV again for about 5 years, when, in the middle of a tiny press conference and interview with them, I got word that my UK visa had been approved…thereby sidetracking me from the Scorpio release love-in. Shortly after I found myself celebrating with the band backstage after their show at the huge London room Ocean, and reminding drummer Simon of “that time back in Toronto.” Brilliant times, indeed.
So here we are 10 years on from that, and after a few fits and starts, there’s something new, something sparse and eerie from Death in Vegas. Trans-Love Energies seems to be, on first listen, pretty spacious. “Enforced Peace” sounds a bit chip-tuney and basic doesn’t it? But then it seems to fill out, burrow. DIV are always good to grow.
Have a listen to a couple of tracks here, plus a sampler from the album mixed by Fearless for BBC Radio 6, which is tasty. Track the album down from your favourite importers, sharpish.
It’s trippy, and it’s Death in Vegas. HAIL.\m/
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