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Spice Crackers

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Performer Notes
  • Personnel: Marcus Meyn (vocals, piano, keyboards); Ingo Ito (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, erhu, gamelan, sampler); Julian Boyd (violin, synthesizer); Julian Boyd (violin); Heiko Maile (organ, synthesizer, vocoder, programming, drum programming, sampler); Stefan Fischer (drum programming); Ronda Ray (ring modulator).
  • Audio Remasterer: Sven "Samson" Geiger.
  • Liner Note Author: Heiko Maile.
  • Recording information: House Of Mister Mendoza, Hamburg, Germany (10/1994-04/1995).
  • Photographer: Michael Moers.
  • Translator: Gareth Davies .
  • Unknown Contributor Roles: Heiko Maile; Mathias Willvonseder; Ronda Ray.
  • Arrangers: Heiko Maile; Marcus Meyn; Ingo Ito.
  • By the time of Spice Crackers' 1995 release, Camouflage found themselves dealing not only with changing times on the part of their key inspirations -- Depeche Mode having long since grappled with rock motifs on albums like Violator and Songs of Faith and Devotion -- but with the shift from electronic pop being pop, to being a quieter concern amid the aboveground explosion of techno in Europe throughout that decade. Spice Crackers feels like a reaction to both changes in many ways, a chance for Camouflage to find their own identity as well as see how to roll with the times -- and what's striking is how they predated some future developments elsewhere as a result. (It says something that the bass-heavy introduction "X-Ray" might have appeared on Depeche's Ultra, for instance, even though that album was two years away from release at that point.) There's a self-referentiality to the field that's almost amusing in its apparent po-facedness -- calling one song "Kraft" and the one immediately after it "Electronic Music" is almost too much -- but the exquisite instrumental "Ronda's Trigger," arguably the album's best song, celebrates things more effectively, a classic electronic dance number in the best way, propulsive and serene at the same time. As with almost any album of its length in the era of CDs, it feels like it goes on a little too long, with some of the better tracks like "Back to Heaven" buried a bit at the end. But if anything, Spice Crackers counts as a key release pointing the way for where European electronic pop with an ear for the darker side of things would go in the future -- after-echoes of the freer, more flowing approach to things the band did here can be heard well down the line in groups like Apoptygma Berzerk. ~ Ned Raggett
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