By: Mr. Roboto
If you find similarities between this and Billy Idol’s CDs, that’s because there is some eerily close relations to the two: They’re both concept albums, both about cyberpunk, both were inspired by William Gibson’s Neuromancer, and both we’re commercial bombs. Being released three years before Billy’s CD, The Cassandra Complex made the attempt at a cyberpunk album that Mr. Idol could have taken notes from. While band leader Rodney Orpheus thought the concept was a great idea, an artistic clash between himself and the record label may have ruined it
Typical suits, wouldn’t know art from shit.
It would have been interesting to see what the whole story would have sounded like, and the opera on stage… maybe Billy Idol is thinking the same thing for his CD. Cyberpunx, such as it is, is still an interesting listen even if All Music Guide considers the album “vaguely derivative” and “forgettable,” recommending it for die-hard industrial music fans. Now let’s run this mutha up the flagpole and see if it’s cyberpunk…
Nice Work… If You Can Get It: Track one is a little ditty about a person who murders a wealthy man then hacks his computer to steal his money (Back in car, I load the guy’s computer, ‘Course he keeps his passwords on a smart card Taped under the dash) and flies to Liechtenstein “Spending his money on a diamond mine.” Something many hackers probably dream of.
Let’s Go To Europe: It’s weird hearing this song, knowing it was written in the late 80’s, since the lyrics sound like a slam against modern America (You wrote a constitution and left it unread… Your only source of knowledge is T.V., You censor everything and think you are free). Back then, the US was at war in Iraq while a power-crazed president named George Bush was dictator. Nothing like the US today.
Then again, Europe doesn’t get off easy either (There’s not much to Europe really, it’s so small).
Happy Days (War Is Here Again): What has to be the Bush family anthem, this short instrumental piece sounds almost like a celebration complete with a saxophone.
Jihad Girl: This is where the European helicopter pilot falls for the Arab girl, and when he suffers a mortal wound his thoughts turn to her for strength (Saw my insides in my hands, Survived by force of will, And by the thought of you),(Wrap me in your arms of steel). probably wishing she was like a robot
Sunshine At Midnight: The pilot and his Arab girl on the space station. Another short instrumental, with a bit of a Twilight Zone vibe to it. It segues smoothly to…
I Want You: Nothing cyberpunk here, just continuing the storyline where the pilot gets the girl pregnant.
Sleeper: Something about this song sounds like something from the Matrix or Queensryche’s Operation: Mindcrime (Someday the phone will ring, I’ll get my orders, I’ll come awake, And I’ll go home).
Nightfall (Over EC): An apocalyptic-sounding number of war in Europe (Jihad is coming, jihad is coming, The Third World War is coming home).
Into The Heart: A surprisingly guitar driven song with drugs (I snort some coke, It’s in my brain, Makes me feel alive, Makes the world insane) and a bit of violence (I got an Uzi, The only work of art, And on the handgrip, I paint my heart).
I Believe In Free Everything: The final instrumental offers voices lifted from some movies somewhere. Could be the anthem to the Free Software Foundation.
What Turns You On?: A serial killer gets sexually aroused murdering girls. ‘Nuff said. (My name is Ted Bundy… I liked to see the dead, And when I came in them, It’s like Jesus giving head).
Ugly: The hostage situation where the pilot dies (Here come the bullets), but not before he has one last say about the world (Your world is ugly). A rather ominous finale to the album.
Conclusion: With only five of the twelve tracks having confirmed cyberpunk lyrics, I’d have to say the album isn’t cyberpunk. But after learning what planned and how the record execs fucked it up, I’m only more interested in hearing the album as it was originally planned, complete with the storyline.
Hopefully, Rodney Orpheus will re-release Cyberpunx as he intended. As it is, it’s still worth a listen, it’s just not quite cyberpunk enough.
The Scene LA
By Orren Merton
The Cassandra Complex is one of those cutting-edge bands that has been around so long they’ve actually outlived most of the labels that have been applied to them. Never quite making a strong dent in the US market, but maintaining a cult following among those who follow underground music, this band has consistently offered their own unique blend of darkly energetic music, and Wetware is no exception.
One of my personal beefs with music that falls to firmly in “goth” or “EBM” or “Industrial” categories is that you tend to end up with entire albums where every song on the record sounds like every other, both musically and lyrically. Wetware mixes it up, putting electro touches on goth-style songs, rock touches into EBM music, flurishes of ambient, classical, etc. to make the whole much more interesting and memorable. And to my sheer joy, many of the choruses are actually catchy enough to inspire singing along! It’s nice to know some moody bands aren’t afraid to throw in a melodic hook.
With longtime CC member and current Project Pitchfork man Jeurgen Jansen co-writing about a third of the record, Wetware manages to maintain a lifeline to both older CC albums and to the current Euro-EBM sound. What is unique about Cassandra Complex however, is their use of guitars, non-traditional EBM melodies, and traditionally goth or industrial (yes, *real* industrial) textures. Also included (at least in the US version) is a fantastic techno remix by Apoptygma Berzerk of CC’s ode to polygamy, “Twice As Good.”
While the songs may vary in style, instrumentation, and focus, they are all held together by a cohesive sense of energy, rhythm, and Rodney Orpheus’s voice, which while firmly in the Andrew Eldritch/Carl McCoy/Ian Curtis camp, has a rich tremelo–and on the more industrial “N.U.D. and “Bad Faith,” even a growl–all it’s own. The lyrics hold together poetically well, although a few lyrics are a little too self-aggrandizing for my taste
For me, this album has enough guitars, songs with catchy choruses, and infectious melodies (“VALIS,” “Theme from ‘The Invisibles’,” “Bad Faith,” “It’s Ok,” etc) to rank far above the usual “genre fodder” that litters the underground scenes. Even if you think underground music isn’t really your thing, Wetware might be enough to change your mind. The Cassandra Complex have not merely crafted an album of good electro-Industrial, they have crafted an album of good *music*. And in the end, that’s what it’s all about.
By Asmodeus (translated from German)
For years I’ve been hearing the name The Cassandra Complex, but only now do I get the pleasure of hearing an album. The names of Rodney Orpheus, main initiator of the band, and Volker Zacharias, also of Girls Under Glass, are certainly not unknown, and so I was curious what awaits me here. The opening track immediately makes a very compelling case, a driving Goth rock song with a very modern sound. “VALIS” should sound really good in any disco, but that also applies to the following song, a very danceable synth-pop piece, which has a warm, bittersweet atmosphere and a wonderful feeling of melancholy.
In the course of the CD Cassandra Complex impressively show that they have no limits. Whether electronic arrangements, which almost be described as EBM, quiet synth songs, to more rock-oriented pieces – diversity is important, without being confusing or contrived in any way. The album flows pleasantly and is a very charming mixture. The second part of Wetware is a little less powerful, but also less disturbing, particularly compared with such a strong first half.
A very modern work in total, but one that never fails to fascinate, and one that owes a lot to the soft, warm and charismatic voice of Mr. Orpheus. Although perhaps sometimes a little lacking in depth, I like the album a lot. Goth rock for the next millennium?