Richard Fearless is back as Death in Vegas much to the surprise of many who thought that the moniker had been hung up for good. There hasn’t been much noise from Fearless since the release of the instrumental Satan’s Circus in 2004. He’s now returned with some old tricks and a new voice: his own.
Aside from a brief stint in Black Acid, this is the first time that Fearless has sung his own songs. Having previously to rely on outside voices meant that Death in Vegas live shows were always lacking in vocals. Now with Fearless behind the mic, not only is there added weight on stage, there’s finally a solid Death in Vegas sound – a final piece in the puzzle.
Death in Vegas albums are quite diverse in style and this one’s no exception, but with Trans-Love Energies comes a cohesive glue in the form of Fearless’ voice. Granted, it does sound a little laboured at times but his vocals fit in perfectly with Death in Vegas’ haunting demeanour, as does the voice of Katie Stelmanis. With Austra, Stelmanis’ voice can be quite booming, bordering on operatic at times, yet she seems a bit more reserved on this recording. ‘Your Loft My Acid’ is by far the stronger of the two tracks she appears on and sees her echoing out ‘80s style vocals over a deliciously minimal track.
Fearless really seems to be getting back to his minimal techno roots here, they vibrate throughout this album. Which is not to say that any of the songs could be classified as minimal techno but the core concept behind it is certainly evident – simplistic ingredients, with an emphasis on repetition. This is used to great effect on ‘Coum’ and ‘Medication’, where the short hypnotic synth loops seem to be dragging you inwards, while the unadorned bass and drums keep you steady and docile. This idea, minimalism, continues to emerge throughout the album. ‘Drone Reich’ comes across as a clear homage to Steve Reich both in terms of structure and namesake, he is after all the original minimalist.
Trans-Love Energies has all the components that make up a good Death in Vegas album, electro fused psychedelic rock, hypnotic undertones, and energetic songs with more substance than most.