Berlin – Transcendance (Album Review)

Berlin – Transcendance (Album Review)

In the early 1980s, Berlin was one of the darlings of the New Wave music scene. Originating back in 1978, they were one of the first American bands of the era to do what they did, and through some struggles, their vision found them success. In fact, their 1982 single “The Metro” has long achieved classic and iconic status, and by the middle part of ’80s, the alluring band would go on to explore the more sophisticated aspects of the broad stylistic spectrum. Scoring an Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song for the Sophistipop ballad “Take My Breath Away,” which was included in the soundtrack of the 1986’s Top Gun, Berlin became a household name.

Now four decades since their initial formation, the on-and-off Berlin has released seven studio albums, from 1980’s Information to 2013’s Animal. Then, to the surprise of many, Lead Vocalist Terri Nunn and co-founders John Crawford (bass, synthesizer) and David Diamond (synthesizer, guitar) reunited for a new album. Slated for release on Friday, August 2nd, 2019 via Cleopatra Records, the album entitled Transcendance marks the band’s first with all three original members since 1984’s Love Life. 

Consisting of ten songs in total, it opens aptly with the slow groove and undulating rhythm of “I Want You,” which exudes faint echoes of Depeche Mode’s “Precious” and Garbage’s “Stupid Girl.” The Trance/House appeal then progresses to the Dance sensibilities of “Show Me Tonight” with guest spoken words from Richard Blade that you are not going to want to miss. With intriguing song lyrics, it also goes to the deep, melodramatic Gothic, Evanescence-sounding midtempo of the title-track. Nunn then explores her Pop Rock vocal persona with the fuzzy “Lust.” Then the tempo slows down again with the synth-orchestrated “On My Knees.”

Keeping the sound fresh, Nunn and the rest of Berlin return the album to Dance territories as they treat their fans to an updated, re-recorded version of one of their classic singles, “Sex (I’m A…),” which soars even higher with its anthemic guitar ad lib. This is while “No One Left Alive” is another dip into Sophistipop balladry, which will remind the initiated of Berlin’s finest moment with their chart-topping “Take My Breath Away.” The ensuing “All for Love” is a slight change of style—a glaze of Reggae sensibility in the intro—but still swims in the same Dance Pop ambiance.

This is while the penultimate track, “In My Heart” swings and sways with its smooth, suave, soft, and soulful R&B-tinged mood. Finally, Nunn, Crawford, and Diamond wrap up their latest musical adventure with thy “Majesty”—a sweet and sexy single material that harks to the sentimental balladry of Pop music in the 1990s; think of Madonna’s “This Used to Be My Playground.”

Berlin’s music has always been a cut above that of many of its contemporaries primarily because it is a mix of the quirkiness and artiness of New Wave, the finesse of Sophistipop, and the commercial viability of Dance Pop. Giving it sensibilities enough to captivate various demographics, once again, Transcendance exhibits Berlin’s ability to appeal to a wide angle of enthusiasts of the broad genre. A wonderful return, Cryptic Rock gives it 4 out of 5 stars.

Purchase Transcendance:
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aLfie vera mella
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Born in 1971, in Metro Manila, Philippines, aLfie vera mella is a healthcare worker, singer/songwriter, and editor/writer. He was the frontman of the ’90s-peaking Philippine Alternative Rock / New Wave band Half Life Half Death, which released a full-length album and several singles on Viva Records. aLfie worked at Diwa Scholastic Press as an editor/writer of academic textbooks and supplementary magazines, focusing on Science & Technology and English Grammar & Literature. In 2003, aLfie migrated to Canada; he has since been living in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He works full-time at a healthcare institution, while serving as the associate contributing editor of Filipino Journal—a local community newspaper in Winnipeg—tackling Literature, Languages, Cultures, Lifestyles, and Music. aLfie has been a music journalist since the mid-’90s for various print magazines as well as websites. He started writing album reviews for Cryptic Rock in 2015. In 2016, aLfie published Part One (Literature & Languages and Their Cultural Significance) of his Essay Series, Can You Hear the Sound of a Falling Leaf?; in 2021, his first book of poetry, Pag-íhip sa Dáhon ng Kahápon [Blowing Leaves of Yesterday]. In his spare time, he enjoys reading books and listening to music. aLfie is a dedicated father to his now 13-year-old son, Evawwen; and a loving husband to Kathryn Mella, who herself moonlights also as a writer aside from holding a degree in Bachelor of Arts, Major in Sociology.

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