DEATH IN JUNE - Abandon Tracks! - CD - 16 tracks - NER - 2005

Released a few months ago on NER and distributed by Tesco, 'Abandon Tracks!' features 16 tracks in total, half of which consist of new, remixed, re-recorded songs and the other half are rarities taken from compilations, hard to find limited editions releases. The long time DIJ hard fans and collectors could consider this release as dispensable if it didn't include these new and alternate versions that should, at least, awake their interest.

They should be contented with the opening track 'The Concrete Fountain' presented in the inner notes as the ultimate 'abandoned track!', recorded in Zagreb in 1996. Keeping in mind that the music on 'Alarm Agents' was originally destined for the long or no longer awaited album 'The Concrete Fountain', it's not surprising to figure out that this eponymous instrumental track is in the same vein as the 'Alarm Agents' material... with reminiscences to the particular charm of Scorpion Wind album 'Heaven Sent'.
Regarding the remixed and re-recorded songs, there are reasons to be a bit more sceptical and to hear divergent opinions as well.
The new arrangement of '13 Years Of Carrion' (originally on the album 'Rose Clouds Of Holocaust') with new keyboards, percussion and bass in addition to the original trumpet doesn't bring something more to this classic… and I can easily content myself with the original version and an album that I usually enjoy in its whole. The same observation applies to the original unreleased mix of 'Rocking Horse Night' and the short version of 'Death Of A Man', both featuring originally on the 1986 'The World That Summer' album… interesting to discover, but far from being superior to the originals.
On the other hand, the two re-invented titles extracted from 'Brown Book', 'Burn again' and 'Punishment Initiation', although they are almost untouchable classics, are very convincing in these new forms... the first purged of a certain voice and the second using the original backing vocals and the tense bass guitar by Gary Carey (of Joy Of Life). 'Europa Rising' (anciently 'Daedalus Rising' on the1992 album 'But, What Ends When The Symbols Shatter?') is, above all, a curiosity due to the leading vocals by Douglas P. instead of David Tibet.
As for the new version of 'In Sacrilege' (originally on 'The Wall Of Sacrifice' album), although the overall feeling of solitude and nothingness mostly inspired by the lyrics is (still) clearly perceptible through the new singing by Douglas P. and makes this version touching and fragile too ... there is no comparison possible with the original version featuring Tibet in his usual bewitching way to interpret complex poetical lyrics. Let's rather consider both as the reflection of two distinctive moments in Death In June's career.

As for the songs released on various compilations, tributes, limited editions… gathered here, the choice to include 'The Only Good Neighbor' (originally on the compilation cd 'The Pact: Flying In The Face…'), the industrial sounds and samples collage of 'My Black Diaries' (from the 'Im Blutfeuer' compilation) and the also not very easy to approach music-wise 'We Said Destroy' (originally released on a split 7" with Fire+Ice) is welcome. Even more judicious is the presence of the experimental 'Passion! Power!! Purge!!!' (extracted from the limited cd single released for the European tour in 1998) as well as the beautiful 'My black Diary' (with lyrics and lead vocals by Douglas P. and the last/ultimate trace of David Tibet on backing vocals together with Rose McDowall) taken from the Nature And Organisation album 'Beauty Reaps The Blood Of Solitude'. Finally, the pearl amongst all these rarities is probably 'Unconditional Armistice', with its accents of reply to John Lennon's 'Imagine'. Originally on 'Der Tod Im Juni' (a limited cd shared with Der Blutharsch, NON, forseti and released at the occasion of joint performances in Burg Falkenstein in 1999) this composition stands as one of the very best Death In June songs ever. 'Many enemies bring much honour' is a bit more anecdotic (and mostly less difficult to pick up) as it was released on the Der Blutharsch tribute album 'Fire Danger Season' only two years ago.

The cd closes, in the best way, on a very convincing and successful 'Europa: The Gates Of Heaven And Hell': a remix version of 'We Are The Lust' that originally featured on the 1987 'Brown Book' album.

This collection of songs comes in a very kitschy deluxe digipak (including a 8-page glossy booklet) with embossed metallic foil blocked titles and artwork details just like the previous reissues of Death In June's out of print back catalogue. 'Abandon Tracks!' is also available as a double lp in gatefold sleeve including a large poster; 800 copies comes in blue and 800 copies in black vinyl... and for once the material is the same on both formats.

Last detail... According to past Douglas P. words on his yahoo group, with the exception of the current reissue of 'The Guilty Have No Pride' cd/dvd and 'Burial' cd in early 2006, "'Abandon Tracks!' will be the last compilation/release for a while dedicated to tidying up the past." All that said, this collection of rarities, remixes and original unreleased recordings doesn't replace, obviously, an unhoped-for and long awaited real new Death In June... but it constitutes, nonetheless, a fine selection composed over 15 years... and that many current neofolk formations can only envy...

Nathalie F.
Winter 2006


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