NitzerEbb – ASIS
Nitzer Ebb‘s As Is EP is short and excellent; it basically amounts to the single release of “Family Man” and three B-sides. The EP sees the band working with a bevy of talented producers: Killing Joke’s Jaz Coleman, Flood, Depeche Mode, and Recoil‘s Alan Wilder, PK, and Barry Adamson. The version of “Family Man” here is the most successful mix to be found. Jaz Coleman’s production makes the song both danceable and ominous. “Family Man” might be the band’s last great single and its finest non-album moment.
The frazzled, machine-gun-suggesting electronics make the track sound as militant as anything from That Total Age, while the catchy chorus of “family man/never broken any of the ten commandments” is immeasurably fun. The song synthesizes all the darkness of the band’s peers, such as Nine Inch Nails and Ministry, with the added bonus of a sense of humor. “Lovesick” is some sort of twisted stalker’s dream; the song sulks and slinks via warped sound effects, a pulsating beat, and processed vocals. It’s another fine feather in producer Flood’s monumental discography. All of the instruments appear to be electronic, but Flood makes the song sound as if it’s being played by a harsh, lush symphony. Douglas McCarthy is in fine, angry form; his vocals are the heart of the entire EP.
“Come Alive” sees crisscrossing beats and tweaked electronics coalescing toward the EP’s most dance-oriented song. Alan Wilder causes Nitzer Ebb to sound like a less user-friendly Depeche Mode, courtesy of effects and sounds straight out of Violator. The song is an absolute gem. “Higher” is perhaps the most experimental song on the EP, but that’s what you get when Barry Adamson is helming things. Starting out as moody dirge, the song eventually travels both a jazz and a chaotic, cacophony route. Sci-fi sound effects, tense strings, and a near-solo vocal segment of echoes and distortion make for a moody, cool listen. As Is is a pleasure from start to finish. It’s a shame that it wasn’t expanded into an entire album. Though every track comes from the hands of a different producer, the EP is as cohesive, if not more cohesive, than any of the band’s full-length albums. Fans of the band or the industrial-dance genre should pounce upon this EP at first sight. As Is sees Nitzer Ebb at the height of their abilities.