"Pretty Toy " (Single, 2003)
After 3 years in the wilderness during which Bryan Erickson made his personal troubles known via the internet, he returned with the relatively low-key but still emotionally-laden single Pretty Toy. The title track another uncomfortable exploration of the dark side of the human psyche, one that is a slow, restless but genuinely quite moving. As Velvet Acid Christ made their reputation on hard and fast music often spitting vitriol, the decision to release a single with such a low BPM, strong melody and a sedate vocal line is something of a risk, but one that pays off.
Erickson is honest enough to admit that Introvert and Angels In Bondage are (what he calls) 'rough works' that he felt were not good enough to make the Hex Angel album. But knowing what the fan community is like decided to release them anyway. Die hard fans of Velvet Acid Christ will appreciate the otherwise rare and unreleased tracks. Okay, neither are perhaps up to standard, but are, nevertheless, worth having. There's a sense that Erickson has come out the other side of his dark and difficult drug period. Swaythed in echo, featuring the VAC trademark well-chosen film samples and reflecting a somewhat goth sensibility, Pretty Toy is a welcome return. 6/10
"Fun With Knives" (Album, 1999)
Citing alternative commercial influences like Sneaker Pimps, Massive Attack, Portishead, The Chemical Brothers and Prodigy alongside more obscure acts like Joujouka, Prana, Astral Projection and X-dream, Bryan Erickson (aka Velvet Acid Christ) somehow manages to pull off a remarkable blending of inspiration, attitudes, sounds and styles. Whilst there's no denying that the VAC sound lies somewhere on the fringes of acidic techno industrial, there are moments of beauty, melancholia and reflection in amongst the tales of serial killer terror.
Decypher opens gently enough with lush, wide synth pads but quickly builds the acidic sequencers and rapid-fire hi hats, developing into a bouncy dance number with unexpected breaks and spacious pauses. This thoughtful combination of highs and lows is what makes Fun With Knives stand out from the crowd of dance/techno industrial acts. Just when a track threatens to go overboard on the Prodigy beats a completely leftfield change comes sweeping in, carrying the mood into another direction altogether. And this happens time and time again. Yet the album never sounds disjointed. Erickson's imaginative and cleverly controlled divergences produce an exotic, enthralling and invigorating journey. Lightly distorted, flanging spoken vocals are mixed low, samples from Leaving Las Vegas bring a smile to your face and other non-descript samples of female voices and middle eastern chants offer a wide vocal palette.
If you can choose between the European release (on Dependent) and the US one (on Metropolis) then go for the US release. There's a 'hidden' track 66 (you can bet Erickson would have gone for track 666 given the chance) which is a rambling, eight minute reconstruction of the trance like, club floor friendly Futile. The one-and-a-half minute Borg sample from the Star Trek: The Next Generation that begins the track takes uncredited sampling to new lengths! 7/10
Official Velvet Acid Christ website: http://www.velvetacidchrist.com