DEATH IN JUNE: Nada-ized!
Release year: 2022
Label: New European Recordings
I don’t remember exactly when, but it was already a couple of years ago that I stumbled upon Miro Snejdr’s retrosynth-style remixes of older Death In June tracks online. I reminisce, that at first they were only short snippets, until eventually a couple of full tracks popped up. At the time, I didn’t think it was anything more than a bit of fun by the Death In June collaborator, who played a significant role on the brilliant Peaceful Snow album (2010). Turns out it was a proof of concept of sorts.
Some time during the latter half of 2022, off-hand mentions of unreleased material and a new album started to pop up. However – and maybe I’m just out of the loop – it wasn’t until almost just before the publication of the album that it was officially announced. Nada-ized!, a collection of retrosynth/electro renditions of Death In June tracks.
The name of the album is an obvious reference to Nada!, the 1985 classic, which saw Death In June incorporate synthesizers and even danceable beats to their music to a higher degree than ever before or after. However, in truth, parallells to the classic album are somewhat strained and even far-fetched.
You see, there’s really nothing of the militant, stern and even gloomy feel of Nada! on Nada-ized!. Obviously, the presence of Douglas P.’s (who himself is, as everyone familiar with the band knows, Death In June) vocals anchor this album firmly to Death In June’s continuum, but the new synth arrangements themselves aren’t particularly DI6. Remove the vocals, and most of these songs would just be yer average synthwave and/or 80’s style synthpop.
So, how does Death In June gone synthwave sound? Well, the short of it is: okay. The long of it is slightly more complicated.
Inevitably, I draw comparisons to Snejdr’s other major body of reworked Death In June material, the so-called Lounge Corps stuff of instrumental piano arrangements. Personally, I love them. Snejdr manages to find a new, fresh and rich take on many classic tracks. And the Peaceful Snow album, very much defined by his piano arrangements of tracks originally written with and for acoustic guitar, is far superior to the original versions published as The Snow Bunker Tapes (2013).
Nada-Ized! fails to do the same. Whilst Snejdr’s synthwave remixes are competent in themselves, these versions offer no new significant insight or perspective on the reworked tracks. It feels like they fail to crack the shell and penetrate into the quintessence of Death In June, resulting in a somewhat shallow outcome. To put it a bit snidely, most of these remixes sound like they could’ve been made by pretty much any faceless retrosynth producer.
There are some exceptions, though. The album kicks off on a surprisingly positive note with a low-key cyberpunk rendition of A Nausea (originally from Peaceful Snow), and closes with a highly danceable, arpeggio-bass led version of Last Europa Kiss (from the all-acoustic The Rule Of Thirds, 2008). I don’t know if either offer a significant new interpretation of the original tracks – probably not – but I genuinely like both of these and don’t mind spinning them.
So, the bottom line is pretty much this: okay, but kind of redundant. I sit here listening to the album, not minding doing it, but at the same time wondering why I’d ever listen to these remixes instead of the original tracks. And can’t think of a single reason why. That’s pretty much what Nada-ized! boils down to, and where it, as an album release, falls short.
I don’t really know whether to like or dislike the fact that the track selection heavily leans on latter day Death In June. Five out of eleven tracks are from the latest album Essence (2018), three from Peaceful Snow and two from The Rule Of Thirds. That leaves one track: Heaven Street is of course the very earliest Death In June material, and the pounding 90’s eurodance rendition honestly does the track no justice. At any rate, this selection ensures there’s no reason for casual listeners to pay much heed to this album; whoever wants a danceable rendition of Little Black Angel should look elsewhere.
The final verdict, then.
Nada-ized! isn’t a bad release in the sense that it’d be torture to listen to. It doesn’t induce a gag reflex. But it doesn’t awe one either. Most of all, it just feels redundant. Had these tracks been made available as a free digital-only album or as a bonus disc to some other release, one might have approached them with the lightness of heart they deserve and require. But as a standalone album release… meh. Good for one slightly a- or bemused spin, after that Nada-ized! will most likely be relegated to gathering dust.