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Almost Human by Voltaire
The Devil's Bris Deluxe Signed Edition
Then and Again
Spooky Songs For Creepy Kids (best of-ish)
On his debut release, Voltaire satirized the concept of Evil and the many ways it manifests itself in the world. Now, two years later, Voltaire returns with a more lighthearted look at life from the perspective of God's angelic cast-off, Lucifer, driven by pride to attempt the first failed coup in history.
Singing in a deep, velvety croon with all the passion, sorrow and bitterness of a fallen angel, Voltaire has crafted an album full of haunting Old World melodies and memorable pop tunes that you won't be able to get out of your head without a guillotine. Always the devilish wordsmith, Voltaire's songs dance between the sardonic, the heartfelt and the absurd. Whether he is singing about a lost love or a public beheading, Voltaire effervesces in a playfully boisterous mix of wit and old-fashioned merriment.
Spontaneously full of mirth and dark humor, Almost Human blurs the gap between the 18th and 21st centuries. This is pop music for a parallel universe, where Morrissey is the Queen of England and electricity was never discovered. Cleverly combining classical instruments with present-day song structures, Voltaire's New Wave band from the Victorian Era cavort through a cabaret suitable for the most contemporary of dance floors.
Unlike the first album, which dealt with the nature of evil, and crazy neighbours,Almost Human has a more serious tone overall but still presented in a very jovial manner. Several tracks even focus on religion, a subject usually left untouched by artists in fear of social repercussions - from "Almost Human" which is sung from the point of view of a particularly notorious fallen angel, to "God thinks" which pokes at those who claim to know what god "truly wants". Other tracks are flat out bizarre, including a advertising jingle for a Club Night in Voltaire's hometown of New York City ("Alchemy Mondays") and of course "Dead Girls", which relates one man's experiences with, well, dead girls. The album has a wonderful, bouncy, tongue in cheek attitude and sometimes is just so bizarre that it'll make you laugh aloud - even after the second or third listen. Overall, a wonderfully crafted and thoroughly entertaining release for anyone who doesn't mind a bit of humour in their music.
His second, and newest, release Almost Human, takes the achievements of The Devil’s Bris and improves them immensely. What makes Voltaire so wonderful is his devilish wit and a brilliant musical vision. Mixing up violins, acoustic guitars, drums and a myriad of other “classic” instruments, The Devil’s Bris was pure impish cleverness and dark-darkity-dark-dark delight. Almost Human “updates” that sound a bit, adding in bass guitar, giving a deeper end and addictive groove to his European folklore-ish minstrelsy. The music would be enjoyable enough without the ghoulish jester’s crooning lyrics; the sinister romp of "Anastasia," the gypsy swirl of "The Night" and the skeletal ballroom number, "The Headless Waltz," would all be remarkable pieces of music even if Voltaire never opened his mouth. Fortunately, he does (though he’d have you think otherwise, if "Dunce" is to be believed!). Voltaire is sarcastic, scathing, mocking, ironic, clever and stunningly poetic. The aforementioned "Dunce" is a glorious ode to putting one’s foot in one’s mouth; about saying the completely wrong thing at the completely wrong time. “All hail the king of dunces, best hold on I’m opening up my mouth” he pleads in the chorus while “Smear my lips with Vaseline, I’m a vocal libertine; I’d try explaining but even then I’m not quite sure what I meant” points to the wit maintained through the song. Almost Human is a brilliantly misanthropic look at the human race; “Pity me, I’m almost a human being” he says, having taken on the role of a fallen angel, which is the central theme to the album. It’s likely safe to say that anyone listening to Voltaire will find much to delight in with "God Thinks," a song about how people “using His name for your own protection” are hateful wastes of flesh, while instructing “Never trust a man who puts his words in the mouth of God and says it’s absolute truth”.
Necrophilia forms the basis of the catchy "Dead Girls" (“there’s no pain, and there’s no pressure, no verbal humiliation; there’s no fear, there’s no shame, there’s no pulse! So is it so strange?), and the infamous Guillotine gives the rousing "Headless Waltz" (“What a shame, I’ve forgotten my name, without the use of my brain and My, bet I’ll sleep well tonight! Without this head of mine”). Voltaire has also written what is likely the first goth song to feature the term “pee pee” with "Alchemy Mondays," an in-joke of sorts about a New York goth club (or rather deepest darkest Hell). He also pulls some linguistic gymnastics, including a song in Japanese ("Ringo No Uta," which seems to be a traditional love song) and the Spanish "El Barquito De Nuez." Musically, Voltaire describes Almost Human as sounding like a New Wave band stuck in the Victorian era, and that’s as fair an assessment as any. Hook-laden mid-80’s pop played out on acoustic guitars, violin, drum and bass, the strangely out-of-place sound is a perfect backdrop to the bewildered genius of his lyrics. -- Review by Phosphor @ Electroage
Fans of Voltaire's The Devil's Bris released in 1998 by Projekt, will be tickled pink by the singer/songwriter/artist's newest incantation of mischief, Almost Human.
Where The Devil's Bris harks back to the days of old with its Victorian-esque rhythms, Almost Human adds a quick paced beat sure to get your toes tapping for the 21st century. Warning, this album is NOT for people without a sense of wry humor. Intent on a theme, Voltaire spins lyrics into a panoramic masterpiece of one of the best known Evil Incarnates, Lucifer Morningstar himself. From such catchy tunes as "Out of Reach" (sure to be as popular as "When You're Evil") to the remorseful ballad of "Feathery Wings" to the controversial song "God Thinks," Voltaire once again paints a picture of pure chaos in the midst of a sane world.
Of course, there is nothing sane about the furious concerto constructed by Kitzis and Goeke's mixture of violin and cello, accompanied by Alexiev's drums, to add a sleek resonance to Voltaire's crooning utterances of a fallen angel cast down to spend eternity on Earth.
I actually had the pleasure of meeting Voltaire, and indeed, he is not the type of person you just take home to meet your mother (though he is extremely charming). His live shows are to "die" for, full of wit and satire as he improvises to make each show unique and a pleasurable experience. Almost Human is a worthy investment, so break open those piggy banks, shake out those "darkity dark" clothing, and get ready to be transformed to a world where Evil smiles winningly at your doorstep.
- Forést Merritt
Almost Human is the evil twin of The Devil's Bris. It distinguishes itself from that excellent album by its still more wicked sense of humor. It has a fuller, more expansive sound than its predecessor. The instrumentation is still familiar, and it's used to great effect as it emphasises and punctuates the witty observations of this earthbound seraph.
"God Thinks" is far and above my favorite track on this album. The song is pointed, uncompromising, and spares no one who misappropriates "god" for their own ends. Anyone who has been appalled by such offenses, will revel in the delivery of this indictment all set to rollicking instrumentation. "Never trust a man who puts his words in the mouth of God and says it's absolute truth," if this isn't the the barometer of truth, nothing is.
"Dead Girls" is the story of a fellow unlucky in love, until he found it with women in the morgue. These are women who accept him unconditionally. Well, as discouraging as women can be to a man's aspirations, we must not judge the poor wretch to harshly. " Have you ever loved someone, who didn't hurt you, harm you? There's no pain and there's no pressure. No verbal humiliation, there's no fear, there's no shame." This story might serve as a macabre allegory to the plight of more timid, and yet no less passionate souls. Did I mention it is extraordinarily funny as well?
"Feathery Wings" is the sorrowful and sanguine entreaty of an empathetic spirit seeking redemption. It cannot know the release of death, it's only hope is forgiveness. The vocal delivery on this particular track is particularly affecting. This was my second favorite track of the album. It was beautifully rendered by a master of humor filtered through pain. Bravo maestro.
In closing, let me say that if you think you have a good sense of humor, this may not be for you. This album was meant for those of us with wicked, good senses of humor as evidenced by a song like "God thinks". It said everything I've often thought with an irony that didn't pull any punches. I give this album a ten out of ten funny bones. Go dig it up... - BlackOrpheus
. . . . HELL YES!!!!!!! This is the singular most catchy and amusing album I have listened to in a long time. Voltaire finally has established his own sound. Shying away from the slightly more depressing sound of Devil's Bris, Voltaire is now walking a fine line between Gothic Folk and nineties Pop, giving the music a very upbeat and vibrant feel. I bought this album around the time of its release and I must say that the replay value is most high. I believe Voltaire would appeal to anyone regardless of what genres they like. Voltaire is indeed music for all occasions. As always, Voltaire's lyrical bravado is his focal point. Lyrically, the majority of the songs are written from the perspective of Lucifer, God's fallen castaway. Voltaire sings with the passion and expression that one would normally expect from a fallen angel. If I ever stumble upon dark times, I can be sure that Almost Human will be there to put a smile on my face. I can say no more, just buy it. You will not be disappointed.