Denki Tiger

SFGSI cover art

Reviewed by Sonya Brown

Various Artists
San Francisco Goth Synth Industrial Compilation (Denki Tiger)
~review by Sonya Brown

The very first thing you will notice about the San Francisco Goth Synth Industrial CD is the tri-fold pop-up packaging where the CD "pops" out at you when opened.  The "Denki-Pak" is registered trademark packaging from Denki Tiger Design. This unique packaging makes you feel like you are already in possession of something special - before you ever even put it in your CD player. Now before I go on, let me explain that Denki Tiger is the alter-ego and brainchild of Robert Blaque, of the San Francisco dark synth-pop band, Secret Secret. Denki Tiger credits the cover art to Katie Miranda, and this artwork fits the "theme" of the CD perfectly... it's goth, it's industrial, it's robotic.

Another unique feature, this release is the first compilation CD to include a ROM section (in both English and Japanese) with detailed descriptive artist portfolios. The CD includes images, lyrics, bios, release and contact information for each band.  A special section of the CD includes information on thirty different scene supporting organizations which host an  introduction into the goth, synth and industrial culture.

I first heard the SFGSI comp in my hotel room at GothCon2002. It's a cozy late evening, and my boyfriend, Jett Black, & I are sprawled out (exhausted) on the fold-out couch. Rob is sitting cross-legged on the floor; his trusty Mac laptop is open before us, spilling forth tracks from an interesting array of Bay Area musicians including Claire Voyant, Trance to the Sun, Secret Secret, Bloodwire, Hungry Lucy, Sunshine Blind, B! Machine, Information Society, Battery, See Colin Slash, Ganymede, Moonlife, Galaxxy Chamber, Nuit, and Mark Pistel.

It must be quite the task to take such a diverse collection of artists, coming from many different sub-genres, and piece them all together into a medium of sound that doesn't have you wondering "where did THAT come from"?! The tracks on SFGSI are arranged in a way that is fluid and consistent, one feeding into another - yet each with their own unique characteristics. I know many industrial musicians that do not like gothic music; many gothic fans that do not care for synth-pop... yet there is something here for every underground music fan.

"In like a lion, out like a lamb"? Hardly! SFGSI opens with lovely female vocals and the ethereal-alternative stylings of Claire Voyant performing "Majesty"; and closes with  Mark Pistel's electro-instrumental piece, "What you are within, that you will be without". Sandwiched in-between these talented artists are many more favorites, each with their own contributions, to best represent the theme of SFGSI.

Trance to the Sun contributes "Black Sea, Black Fish (ocean edit)".  Trance To The Sun endows sexy female vocals and experimental rhythms to SFGSI.  I am fortunate to have seen Trance to the Sun perform in Portland, Oregon, back in March of 1999.  Trance To The Sun put on a remarkeable performance (along with Written In Ashes and Black Atmosphere)  at Satyricon, for the CD Release Party for the Cleopatra Compilation, The Unquiet Grave. Their contribution to The Unquiet Grave,  "Slave", is yet another personal favorite.

The creator behind the compilation - Secret Secret's "Forgotten (station mix)", with it's dark synth-pop allure, provides Track 3.  This particular mix has a retro-80's driving beat with a relentless synth bass line, using male vocals to tell the story.

Bloodwire (featuring Shawn Brice of Battery) follows with "Overdue (spent mix)".  This track opens with sexy female vocals provided by I-Li Chang; then kicks into dance-laden Numan-esque electronica.

Track 5 introduces us to Hungry Lucy where we pace things down to a more base spiritual level with "Alfred (haunting edit)".  Luscious synthesizers envelope Christa Belle's  vocals which are supported by War-N's backing male vocals to create an otherworldly experience.

Sunshine Blind's own alterna/gothic style of electronics feels eerily liquid with "Silent (modulation mix)" on Track 6.

B! Machine creates the "Atmosphere" for Track 7,  tweaking knobs and pushing buttons on the "Mijikai Mix".

Information Society, veterans of synth dance, provide Track 8.   The bizarre "On the Outside 2.1"  propels me back into the 80's with wicked glee.  InSoc has developed a gothic edge to their sound, and their contribution to the SFGSI Comp is a most welcome treat!

Battery's electro-industrial beats pound into track 9. If you aren't wanting to hit the dance floor by now, "This Much" will get you moving.

See Colin Slash provides the fun for the SFGSI comp. I love this track! "Hardcore (ctrl-13 mix)" is the track that I will be singing when the CD is over, that I'll be hearing in my ears tomorrow at work, and that I'll be rushing back home to play over and over again. The lyrics on this track alone are worth the purchase price. Be warned. I'll now be stalking this band.

Ganymede is next with "City Dweller"... synth-pop for the masses... and we now begin the outer space portion of the disc...

Track 12,  Moonlife's "Satellite (lost in space mix)" is space-themed synth pop's self-proclaimed "brighter side of the moon".

Galaxxy Chamber opens track 13  "Millennium Maddness (glyph mix)" with trilling ghostly shrieks. This track is "the bomb" - literally.

Nuit brings us back to somber shadows with their mix of acoustic and electronic spirituality with "November Song".

As we end with track 15, Mark Pistel's techno instrumental "What you are within, that you will be without"  delivers just the right amount of bass to put you in the frame of mind to start the SFGSI CD over again...

...Because I'm already wanting to hear See Colin Slash again... and Information Society... and Battery... and... well, I'll just have to "play it again".

Bravo, Rob!  This one is a keeper.