'The Burning Bridge'
Noir – the new musical vehicle of Athan Maroulis (Spahn Ranch, Black Tape For A Blue Girl) – laid out a sublime amalgamation of dark cabaret and dance-friendly industrial on his début album 'Darkly Near'. The album perfectly combined the two paths that have characterised his past endeavours and blended them with a retro-futuristic portrait of New York City, the result of which was one of the most unique releases of 2013. Fast-forward to 2016 and Maroulis is back with 'The Burning Bridge' a new EP, released in dedication to the late David Bowie, that builds on the formula of the first album and throws in a couple of surprises for good measure.
The first track 'The Burning Bridge' is a brilliant blend of dark electronics, gothic atmosphere and pure dance appeal that blends the power of latter-day Spahn Ranch with a mature and modern finesse that should dominate club playlists. The second track, 'Same Old Madness', is a cover of an obscure Ministry track that turns the original synthpop into a darker and more decadent sounding expression of post-millennial geopolitical anxiety.
'The Chauffeur', originally by Duran Duran, takes the thin and minimalistic synthpop and transforms it into a sinister and sleazy number that you can get your teeth into. The final track is a live radio performance of the utterly sublime cover of Roxy Music's 'In Every Dream Home A Heartache' that originally appeared on the début. It may not be brand new but the tight and intimate nature of the performance is a perfect advertisement to try and catch the band live if you can.
In terms of production the EP builds nicely on the foundation of the début album and adds a little more force to its more dance-orientated numbers while maintaining that smooth and subtle use of atmosphere that made their previous offering such a compelling listen.
'The Burning Bridge' is a beautifully constructed EP that shows that Noir really is in a class all of its own. The songs are strong, deliriously atmospheric and addictive in their dance appeal but maintain a stunningly intimate aura that is refined and full of the kind of skill only a seasoned performer like Maroulis can bring to them. The new covers are inspired and the title track is a perfect floor-filler. Hopefully there will be another full-length round the corner to satiate the appetites this will have whetted.