There are so many genres at play in “Sugar,” you won’t know what to do…other than keep listening: rabidly, curiously, indulgently.
Colder is Marc Nguyen Tan; it’s is his genre-defying project he created back in 2003. In June, he released two albums, The Rain and Goodbye, at the same time. A native German, Tan now lives in Paris where he creates sounds that are unrestrained by boundaries of either land or water. His sound is labeled as electronic, but that’s a bit misleading. Sure, it contains many electronic elements, but the laidback nature of the sounds the languid way he delivers his lyrics often hearken more to indie and folk singer-talkers like Lou Reed and Ian Curtis.
It’s hard to break down a review of these albums into a review of the songs, so I’ll tackle each one as a whole (with one notable exception). Goodbye is a nighttime cruise, a lazy night at home, a soundtrack for creating art. It’s got dashes of haunting pianos; in-your-face synths; scratchy, discordant guitars; and, of course, Tan’s timeless vocals. This is music designed to de-stress the listener. It’ll help you clear your mind and slip into another realm of consciousness, one hallmarked by sounds and soft vocals.
With The Rain, Tan manages to take things down yet another level. The album is largely instrumental, more electronic and chilled out. Colder incorporates more unnatural, discordant synth sounds, inviting even further exploration and contemplation. What I can’t figure out, though, is why he chose to end the disc with a cover of “Holy Night”—yes, the Christmas song. It’s Colder-ized and synthesized, but still an aberration on a collection of soundscapes.
But let’s not forget “Sugar”—” Goodbye’s “single,” if you can call it that. “Do you think about her from time to time?” Tan sings in a near monotone, backed by strong synth lines, snaps, T-Rex–style guitar, and head-shaking percussion. There are so many genres at play, you won’t know what to do…other than keep listening: rabidly, curiously, indulgently. The song reminds me of Underworld’s mellower work; I mean that as high praise, as I’ve long respected that electronic duo’s breadth and depth.
Colder has received accolades worldwide, with comparisons to such bands as Joy Division, Digital Doors, Suicide, Velvet Underground, and David Bowie. Give this pair of discs a listen and draw your own parallels. Whatever you’re into, you’re sure to find something here that speaks to you. | Laura Hamlett
Photo by Denisse-Garcia