Written by Stephen Kennedy
Artist: Jordan Reyne
Title: The Annihilation Sequence
Genre: Alternative Celtic Gothic-Folk
Release Date: 4th June 2013 (digital) / 28th June 2013 (CD)
Label: Believe Digital / Factory Nation
New-Zealand born Jordan Reyne has had an eclectic career thus far, and on new album ‘The Annihilation Sequence’ reveals herself as a uniquely talented performer. And one flaunting that most rare gift in these days of genres and sub-genres, retrospectives and reformations – originality. But more of that later. A singular creative drive can be sensed here, as Ms Reyne has gone from three nominations for music awards in her home country and funding from Creative New Zealand, to a move to Europe and gigs including WGT, Glastonbury and supporting FIELDS OF THE NEPHILIM. Funding for her previous two albums came from building an online community via frequent weekly performances on the Second Life VR – inventive or what? – and recently she became a permanent member of much-loved collective THE EDEN HOUSE.
From the very beginning it is clear, ‘The Annihilation Sequence’ inhabits its own world, a dystopia made frighteningly real and current. There is menace a-plenty on the title track, and the all-pervading sense of voyeurism and political manipulation, as the snarled line “You’ll do what you’re told” plays out over a paranoid, jittery beat. A collage of sparse, industrial sounds pepper ‘The Player’, and the distorted vocals repeat “Curse you!” while shallow breathing in the distance gives this a creepy urgency and sense of panic. The breathing continues and surges to the foreground in ‘The Narcissus’ and it’s a clever device, a single minor chord supporting it, sinister in the extreme. Some excellent vocal acrobatics result in the desperate, harsh whisper of “Fuck me”, and it’s clear, in this bizarre piece of music, that something very special is taking place. It’s a glimpse inside a nightmare, a film-score for some unmade fall from grace, a chilling encapsulation of everything that is cold and empty in modern society. That’s quite an achievement.
‘The Wall’ is a more straightforward song, an easy melody, some beautiful singing, and a simple backdrop. It’s straight back to business though for ‘The Cab Driver’, a stuttering beat underpins the storytelling, it’s desperately sad, the sampled voice notching up the sense of loneliness and futility and by the line “Let’s pretend you want me” a deep melancholy has worked its way into the senses. This is not for the faint hearted. The impressive range, and vocal dexterity of Jordan Reyne is best heard on ‘The Gentleman’, and ‘Pieces Of Me’ shows off a complex arrangement of sounds, loops and samples, giving it a heady, hallucinogenic feel. It’s a relief when it’s over, but in a good way. By ‘Bite (The Hand That Feeds)’ it’s as if the journey is winding down, a weariness setting in, the darkness giving way to some softly sung and harmonised advice of “Learn to bite the hand that feeds”. It’s the big comedown song, waking up and seeing a hint of dawn, and it ends with a quickening, urgently picking up the pace and the call to arms. It’s stunning in every way.
‘Safety In Silence’, and it’s refrain of “You’re so paralysed”, perfectly sums up this incredible album. It’s a modern hymn to a dysfunctional society, where hopelessness, apathy, paranoia and repression are acceptable and tolerated, one where we become more impotent and powerless the more we become aware. It’s the future, in the present, bleak, observant, and uniquely presented. Jordan Reyne has achieved something truly self-contained and original here, it’s an impressive achievement, and this album represents a freedom that thankfully can still be found in modern, forward-thinking music. A must-buy!