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Some Deaths Take Forever (Remastered)

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Album Review

In 1980, Bernard Szajner composed a short piece of music for Amnesty International's campaign against the death penalty, and then expanded it to a full-length recording. The original art work included the Declaration on the Abolition of the Death Penalty, and Szajner dedicated the album to Amnesty International (he tried to donate all royalties to that organization, but their constitution made it impossible for them to accept them in such fashion). Some Deaths Take Forever is a concept album that is dark, brooding, and futuristic; an inventive album firmly rooted in rock, much like other quirky recordings of the era by Gary Numan, Jean-Michel Jarre, Robert Fripp, and pre-ambient Brian Eno. Szajner's day job as a visual effects artist helped him recruit top-notch musicians from such influential European groups as Magma, Heldon, and Gong, who effectively add color, rhythm, and texture to his robotic and hypnotic keyboard work. The first three tracks, subtitled "First Phase," are somber electro as we follow a condemned prisoner into prison with the brooding "Welcome (To Death Row)," to wait despairingly in his cell until the final execution devolves into fuzzy drones, feedback screams, and whines, building the sense of dread until sudden silence ends side one. The rest of the album, "Phase Deux," probes the dark and dismal reality of lengthy imprisonment, with often reflective, hypnotic, trancey music interrupted sporadically by the inconsequential sounds of a pocket radio, concluding with the sad, elegant "A Kind of Freedom," a paean to man's ability to hope despite seemingly hopeless situations. Most surprisingly, listening to "Some Deaths Take Forever" is not really a gloomy listen, but manages to suggest the strength of human spirit and the values of justice and humanism, despite its dark subject matter. Szajner (somewhat controversially) remixed and re-edited the long out of print album for the 1999 CD release on Spalax, so it is a bit easier to locate a copy. Exploring themes of death and imprisonment, Szajner's Some Deaths Take Forever created an urgent and unsettling minor masterpiece that deserves to be recognized as a classic of '80s French cold Wave and experimental electronica, and as such is highly recommended to all fans of those genres.


Born: 27 June 1944 in Grenoble, France

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '00s

Bernard Szajner ("ZANY-ner") is a unique, Paris-based visual effects artist and musician who has created groundbreaking works in multiple disciplines while consistently striving to create and explore new relationships between light and sound. A self-described "dilettante in the true sense of the term," Szajner was born in Grenoble, France, late in the second World War, and hidden in a cave by his anxious Polish parents. Always creative, he took up painting at the age of 11, then became fascinated...
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Some Deaths Take Forever (Remastered), Bernard Szajner
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