This album celebrates EN's 20th year of operation with a marked improvement in production values. The focused and streamlined sound finds equal space for pulsing, naked bass guitar, trimmed-down sound effects, low-end percussion, and strings. Not least of all, the punchy production brings EN's often-personal lyrics and intense delivery to the forefront--to double-edged effect.
The pregnant pause on the title track makes for very, very uneasy listening, but the chanting at the end is downright pathetic. On the whole, though, "Silence is Sexy" is as its title suggests--a very quiet release with sporadic outbursts of violent noise. "Zampono" is one of my favorite selections, sounding as though EN just shanghaied the Blue Man Group into banging on hollow plastic pipes. I can almost see the BMG bouncing about. One of my beefs, however, is that there's a bit too much repetition on many of these songs. Again, it's a technique that has its pluses and minuses. Fragments such as "I wish this would be your color . . ." haunt your head long after the CD leaves the player, but the approach just as often recalls last year's obnoxious "all I really really really really really really really really want to see is a total eclipse of the sun" refrain. Another personal peeve is the German vs. English issue. After experiencing his attempts at the latter, I most certainly prefer to hear Blixa singing in German. Maybe something was lost in the translation. And, (un?)fortunately, his version of "Pretty Fly for a White Guy" didn't make it onto the album.
The UK edition of Silence is out right now, presented in a deluxe package with a second CD featuring 18 minutes of bonus material. Unsurprisingly enough, this amounts to a very repetitious song that stubbornly refuses to end. But it's truly noisier than the rest of the record, and I can recommend grabbing this edition (while you still can) if repetitious noise is your bag. A US ediition will be released sometime in May (I believe) but without the bonus disc. Should EN tour for this release, don't miss it. Live EN dwarfs any of the group's recent albums.