Replicas is the handle we use to write about reissues, offering some thoughts on the original release, and whether or not there’s enough goodies to warrant a repurchase if you own a previous version of the album. This time we hit up an album from one of the staff’s favourite acts, timed to coincide with the release of their newest album.
Eclipse • Das Schwarze Denkmal
Out of Line
What is it? Eclipse is either the second or third Kirlian Camera album, depending on how you navigate the band’s mildly confusing discography, one whose importance is tied to the inclusion of their biggest hit (the title track if you’re unfamiliar). Although in this blog’s humble opinion the band wouldn’t achieve their ultimate, transcendant form for another dozen years with the induction of Elena Alice Fossi as frontwoman on Still Air, Eclipse is still an important marker in the band’s transition away from the italo and new wave sounds of their early catalogue and towards the refined and majestic darkwave that they’ve since perfected.
Although the album does have a couple of stone classic dance numbers in the form of the stately “Eclipse” and the decadently gothic “Aura” the overall feel is quite somber, with synthesized strings and pads delicately arranged in the style that project mastermind Angelo Bergamini has made his trademark. Very much a transitional record, the occasional nod back to rock in the form of King Crimson cover “Epitaph” and the guitar-led “River of No Return” are the obvious signs of the band’s chrysalis, although the departure of original female vocalist Simona Buja arguably plays some part in that as well. The contributions by producer and engineer John Fryer can’t be overlooked either. The famed name behind records as varied as NIN’s Pretty Hate Machine, Fad Gadget’s Incontinence and the whole of This Mortal Coil’s discography undoubtedly has plenty to do with the languid melancholy that pervades each song, imbuing even an element as unlikely as the sax on the outro of “The Christ” with an elegant and mournful air.
What’s on this reissue? Even before taking the extras into account, this edition of Eclipse has plenty of appeal for fans of the band. With CD pressings from the mid-90s going for $50-100 on Discogs and most of the tracks excluded from the various boxsets and compilations issued since the turn of the millenium, it’s the first occasion to own the album in an affordable format for most of us. I can’t comment on the quality of the highly touted remaster in that I’ve never heard any earlier version of the record. However, it sounds just fine to me, with each element given plenty of space in the mix, the bass and drum sounds feel especially weighty and full-bodied. In addition to the LP proper, a second CD featuring the similarly long deleted Eklipse Zwei EP from 1994 (featuring remakes of the album’s songs by a later incarnation of the project) and various B-sides, as well as the 20th anniversary version and :Wumpscut: remix of “Eclipse” are a tasty bonus.
Why should I buy it? The Definitive Edition of Eclipse is appropriately named, a pleasantly complete package to celebrate the record’s 25th anniversary. Although it’s not absolutely essential for the uninitiated (its undisputed best moments available in a few other places), it does make an excellent case for how a reissue can be done with an ear to servicing fans who may have already purchased it at some point in the past. It’s likely that Kirlian obsessives (amongst whom I count myself, albeit less so than my illustrious co-editor here at ID:UD) will have pre-ordered and indeed already received their copies by the time this review sees virtual print, and so singing its praises may be a touch redundant. That said, I’m pleased to have it to fill a gap in my collection without spending a proverbial arm and leg, and hope it may lead to future journeys down the labyrinthine path of one of the greatest and most undervalued acts in the history of darkwave.