Sound: Much like Queens Of The Stone Age, the electronica-rock band KMFDM has continued to change faces since it was first formed back in 1984. Of course, that's where the comparison between QOTSA and KMFDM stops. As the founding member, Sascha Konietzko's current lineup from various industrial/dance/electronica backgrounds does justice to his eclectic and often multi-cultural sound. The experimentation among the members (including 6 different language song/spoken) will help KMFDM's latest CD Tohuvabohu to find a cozy spot on the club, but it's hard to say if the general public can still ignore the obvious electronica-driven sound underneath most every track.
Looking For Strange is the epitome of a club single, thanks in part to Lucia Cifarelli's seductive vocals in the intro, a catchy hook, and building tempo during the chorus. There is some nice guitar work involved in Looking For Strange, but it's extremely subtle and works as more of a texture builder. Looking For Strange and most of the tracks on the CD do separate themselves from a lot of techno songs because they are usually formatted in the traditional verse-chorus-verse format, but it still may be too unusual for the general public to swallow.
KMFDM takes an interesting turn with Saft Und Kraft, a fascinating stab at the German death metal genre. While it never feels quite brutal enough to be true death metal, the vocals (that are never screamed, by the way) are fed through what sounds like an effects machine and tends to be generally effective. The disappointment comes in the fact that most of the song sticks with a fairly common speed metal chord progression and the guitar doesn't stand out that much until the impressive solo work toward the end.
Bumaye is one of the best tracks on Tohuvabohu primarily because it doesn't rely quite as heavily on the usual techno vibe heard in other songs. It has a darker, more seductive style of songs thanks to vocalist Lucia Cifarelli. In other songs she just doesn't stand out much because her vocals are heavily saturated through various effects machines, but in Bumaye you finally hear that she has quite a beautiful voice. Her delivery is much more restrained, almost to the point of a whisper at times, and it has an honest, emotional feel that works well for the closing track. // 8
Lyrics: The band deserves credit for straying outside of the English and German languages on the latest record. Latin, Hebrew, Lingala, and Spanish are also represented, and that change in language alone makes for an interesting listen. The band also provides lyrics to every song in the liner notes (without translation), so things aren't kept a complete mystery, either. You may have to do a little research if you're interested in the full translation, but that's the beauty of the Internet.
A few songs have just too many lyrical cliches and it gets distracting at times. The main offender is "Fait Accompli, which the band could have purposely drenched with American sayings on purpose. Cifarelli sings, Bed of nails, virtue, vice; To eat your cake you will have to fight; Every dog will have it's day; As the turning wind will change. KMFDM is smart band, so it's very likely that the band members intentionally saturated the song with cliches, but it still gets old by the end of Fair Accompli. // 8
Overall Impression: There is a lot going on KMFDM's songs and the latest album is one you'll have to listen to a few times to hear all the intricacies going on. Various genres are touched upon and it's nice to hear everything from a Middle-Eastern-influenced style to rock to club all in the course of the same song. At times you could even compare the band to The Gorillaz actually, primarily due to the fact that they are able to straddle the electronica and rock line.
Rock purists may not be able to make the transition to KMFDM's sound easily. Every song has at last a few sections that feature strong guitar work, but it's still more of a backdrop most of the time and only Saft And Kraft feels like a rock song at all. Where there is a lack of aggressive rock, the band still successfully touches upon several different genres that keep the club/dance sound in check through most of Tohuvabohu. // 8