Will – Déjà Vu
Medieval techno-industrial. At first glance, this would seem like a rather overblown description for any band, yet this is precisely what Will is. Consisting of the trio of Rhys Fulber and Chris Peterson (both Front Line Assembly members currently and at various intervals in the past) with John McRae (who would later become the first vocalist for the Decree project), Will is “electro-Wagnerian” (to use the band’s self-description) music, mostly comprised of “martial” drums (both natural and electronic), church organ samples, harpsichord, horns, various melodic percussion, industrial synth backgrounds, a kitchen sink worth of choral samples, guitar (rarely), piano (rarely) and John McRae’s singing. Excuse me, I mean shouting. In a humorous anecdote, I once read that Will’s vocalist was promoted as “the most violent voice you have ever heard”. While this usually can be taken as a tongue-in-cheek comment from any band, this especially holds true for Will. Why? Mainly because McRae’s voice, while far from being completely ineffective, is laughably far from being the “most violent voice”. His “proclamations” (as it were), are one of the few negatives of the album, and while I do not hold them in contempt as other reviewers may have done, I will concede the fact that they are a bit of a weakness.
The album I reviewed, “Déjà vu”, collects the entirety of the band’s discography, omitting only two songs in the retrospective (although the band only released one LP and one EP during it’s lifetime). Songs are, for the most part, very similar in terms of overall feel and execution, yet thankfully there are subtle differences and instrumentation changes throughout the pieces , in order to keep them fresh and interesting (though, as typified by many bands which focus on atmospheric and emotional effect, the song structure is quite repetitive and cyclical). The choral touches often add a bit of majesty to the songs, which would be much less captivating without them. In addition, the various “electro-harpsichord” (?) melodies found throughout are also generally interesting as well (especially on the songs “Father Forgive (Remixed Version” and the ending of “Epilogue”). The lyrics, while not included with the CD, are somewhat obtuse medieval poetic “statements” (for lack of a readily available better term). While they do not always make an immediate impact on the listener during the music, they are, intriguingly, somewhat more interesting to read on their own.
This is a unique band and release. The band released their LP and EP during 1991-1992, then were inactive until the release of the compilation in 1997, which was when Decree was created, featuring Chris Peterson, John McRae (again on vocal duties), and guitarist Jeff Stoddard. While the idea to re-activate the band has been considered, it would be difficult to determine exactly how this type of music would be received by today’s listening audience. My fear would be that current trends would not support this type of music (although the individual musician’s development since the inception of Will would promise a greatly enhanced experience).
Obviously, the end result is that this album is a bit of an acquired taste, yet if the concept sounds interesting to you, then you will probably not be disappointed in purchasing “Déjà vu”. I can claim from personal experience that I wasn’t.
Edit: It appears that COP International has removed their info page they used to have regarding Will. Phooey.