Apparently, sometime last week, a dark shadow descended into my home, creeping from the darkest corners of some tenebrous abyss while I slept and then quietly left, leaving nothing except a single compact disc marked “NightRazor - Bleeding Edge of Night” (Full Disclosure: It may, in fact, have been the postman. No one ever tells me when I get mail). At any rate, I put the disc into my CD player and was instantly transported.
Picture it. The Late-Early-Mid 90s. I was in my very late teens. I had gotten my first computer (A Packard-Bell, no less) and was using dial-up to connect to a world that I had not, in my small-town life thus far, ever known. I was pretty well versed in music at that point. I had friends who were goths, another who had introduced me to the finer points of industrial, and was exploring synthpop, post-punk, and that new “alternative” stuff. The music, I knew (pretty well, anyway), but what I found online was a community. Goths, rivet-heads, metalheads, even a few of those New Romantic guys who had somehow survived past the 80s. And it was alive!
The mainstream perspective is that goths are “sad people with sad music,” but for those of us who lived that time, it couldn’t be further from the truth. The music was alive, exciting, dynamic! Sure, there were sad songs, but that’s because we learned the power of using the full spectrum of emotions. For having the reputation of being sad, I remember so much laughter and so much dancing among those black-clad weirdos (of which I was proudly numbered).
So that may be why “Bleeding Edge of Night” takes me back to that era.
For one, Jason Hoffman, if I understand correctly, created this album using all hardware synths. I’m no expert on music creation, so you won’t hear any sort of debate on the virtues of hardware synths vs. virtual synths here, but I have to say, there is a difference and this album definitely sounds different for it. The crafting of the tracks sounds new and fresh but the instrumentation has a very “classic electronic” vibe to it that is simply beautiful.
Despite my nostalgia, this album doesn’t owe allegiance to any particular genre (long-time readers will know how much I like that!) The beats are heavy and danceable. This is definitely an album meant to be danced to. The tones are dark, giving the music an air of the dramatic that lovers of goth music will be drawn to. The ultra-heavy beats, creative use of samples, and moments of beautiful grind will definitely appeal to fans of 80s/90s era WaxTrax! and industrial. Synthwave fans, especially fans of darksynth, will definitely vibe with the melodies on this album.
Most of all, I think that, even more than the instrumentation, the thing about this album that takes me back to those halcyon days of darkness is that, for all the grind, all the intensity, and all the dark visceral force of these songs, I also feel the joy and humor of those days in NightRazor’s music. Though the album is, save for samples, devoid of vocals, song titles like “My Demons Wear Lab Coats,” and “Butcherpimp,” denotes the sort of Vantablack humor we’re dealing with here, and while many of the songs are full of dark tones, the beats and melodies are dynamic, kinetic, and vital.
Bleeding Edge of Night isn’t simply a dark monolith of danceable carnage. I think fans of classic synthwave/synthpop will find “Die High” absolutely beautiful. “Shenzen Steel”, both the original, and the “Extended Dance Mix” are ultradanceable jams that have been played an innumerable amount of times since I got this disc. “Nitropolis” is a hyperspeed burst of dark outrun that may be responsible for a few incidents on various freeways by the time this is all over. The first single, “Godslammer,” is the sort of dance jam that puts the “grind” in “bump and grind.”
This is an album I have to recommend, though not specifically to fans of any one genre. It’s not trying to fit any particular sound, but, it seems, to take many different elements of past eras and distill them, sometimes forcefully, into a cohesive stream of mood, vibe, and emotion, all with solid melodies and carnally-forceful beats in an attempt to recreate not the nostalgia, but the actual energy of a bygone era and, if I’m being perfectly honest here, NightRazor did a hell of a great job at doing just that.