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*V*I*R*G*O* Wing Entrance

*V*I*R*G*O* "Moderate Extremism" CD cover and link to the *V*I*R*G*O* Website
by *V*I*R*G*O*
2002 Intraxis Productions, Inc. 

Review for Stonewall Society
by Robert Urban

Just who is techno/industrial/electronica rock artist V*I*R*G*O*? - the musical love child of Trent Reznor & Diamanda Galas?... great great grandchild of SILVER APPLES?... the new queer S&M rock messiah?... heir apparent to that insufferably severe, tragically hip pop aesthetic born sometime late in the 1970's when the fashion industry bit rock music in the neck and out flowed the likes of HUMAN LEAGUE and all things "Goth"?

Uh... maybe - but happily, much more! On MODERATE EXTREMISM, this serious club kid of the brave new digital age displays classic artistic resourcefulness - and crafts his "dark & sensual electro-fantasies" out of all the available cutting-edge music technology surrounding him. V*I*R*G*O* voraciously gobbles up audio loops, samples, sequences, sound effects, digital edits, street sounds, "music concrete", etc., and weaves them into well-produced, dance-club type mixes. His sonic bag of tricks even includes making usable musical elements out of the digital noises & pops others might discard as "distortion". He loves running vocals, guitars, basses, percussion - you name it - thru a fuzz box for effect.  V*I*R*G*O* also exhibits a healthy fondness for good ol' fashioned analog synth sounds.

MODERATE EXTREMISM's overall production - including innovative vocal e.q.'s, sumptuous reverbs and great-sounding percussion/rhythm beds - is excellent. One of my favorite tracks - opening song "You Suck" has perhaps the heaviest guitar power-chords ever burned to disk.

But this album does more than just capture the dark hipness of today's drum machine-driven gay male urban club culture. For better or worse, MODERATE EXTREMISM also accurately reflects its emptiness, shallowness and cruelty. In songs with names like "Parasite", "Mutual Destruction", "Soul Disease", "Rent Boy", "Black Leather" and "Kink", V*I*R*G*O* sings of a world dominated by sex addicts, hustlers, verbal abuse, self-destructive behavior, un-safe sex, hedonism, sado-masochism, kinky sex and extreme pessimism. 

Needless to say - one will find no bright side to ANYTHING on this CD. Every song is in a minor key - as is nearly every chord on the album.  To call V*I*R*G*O*'s world, as described in MODERATE EXTREMISM, "sad" (as it surely is) is to miss the point. There is something in the combination of the intensely depressing, nihilistic lyrics; dispassionate, detached vocal style; and the often brutal, stark music production that makes the world-according-to-VIRGO downright remorseless and cold.  This is strong stuff. As summed up in the final song "Walking Wounded" - all is pathetic &  "intrinsically flawed".

For the most part, Virgo sings the CD's songs in a middle range/matter of fact manner.  But here and there he lets loose, displaying a really luscious low end and a very exciting top this listener finds quite appealing - there is a beautiful voice here.

The sometimes straightforward, deadpan vocal style on MODERATE EXTREMISM is  especially disturbing on the two blues covers. V*I*R*G*O*'s interpretation of the Lewis Allen classic STRANGE FRUIT comes off entirely devoid of irony per the song's underlying message of social injustice & racism - the singer simply seems to enjoy singing the gruesome lyrics at face value.  Likewise, in his rendition of Burke & Webster's BLACK COFFEE, V*I*R*G*O* again just sings the words, with no subtle longing to the loneliness of "the blues" underneath.  It's as if the world has no heart for him to appeal to.

Ah... the brave, new digital age....

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