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Review

Colin Newman

Commercial Suicide

Commercial Suicide is a cross between the pop-song format of much of Newman's previous work and the more ambient provisionally entitled the singing fish. Devoid of drums, many of the tracks are somewhat delicate and quiet.

It begins with Their Terrain, possibly highlighting the feelings of those involved: 'Here we are another fine decision/Not understood or even heard/From afar the logic may seem twisted/Another struggle with those words'. This release is certainly not along the lines of most contemporary albums, instead erring towards classic music, although with a distinctly European flavour.

Over a dozen musicians are credited with various tasks so it comes as a bit of a surprise that so many of the tracks feel a little empty. However, the spacious nature of the release enables each piece breathing space. Feigned Hearing is particularly impressive; the interplay between the instruments combined with a strong vocal creates a thoughtful track which has an edge. I Can Hear Your... is another admirable piece that finishes the album in fine style, creating an emotional and hopeful atmosphere.

Commercial Suicide is far removed from the brash pop ideals of A-Z and even more musically sedate than Wire's A Bell is a Cup. There often seems to be a slightly unpolished nature to this LP and it lacks any real edge. Having said that, this doesn't seem to be the sort of music where the composers wanted people jumping up and down to it; instead, it's supposed to be reflective and subtle. To that end, Commercial Suicide is a success.

Craig Grannell (1998)

Cover artwork