The genius of bands like Depeche Mode, New Order, and Kraftwerk are being obsessed over by many current bands today and the influence is clear. Blaqk Audio is a band consisting of the two driving forces of A.F.I., Davey Havok and Jade Puget, who have been toying with their 80’s influences for some time now. Their debut as the duo Blaqk Audio and their freshman effort of CexCells was brilliant in its simplistic and unabashed mimickery of the sound that built the new wave movement. The band’s origin lies in Puget & Havok’s collective penchant for electronic dance music—a taste that,for both musicians, dates to the heyday of the electro-industrial wave: that never-never(again) land of the late 1980s. Bands like Skinny Puppy, Depeche Mode, and Nitzer Ebb were among the first to colonize the musical territory of Puget’s mind; meanwhile, Havok steeped himself in the soundscapes of The Pet Shop Boys, Devo, and Front 242.
Many A.F.I. fans wondered whether this was just some side project,
“Balancing two bands is a complex task…one shines and the other simmers. Now it’s time for Blaqk Audio to shine,” says frontman Davey Havok. “Jade and I never considered Blaqk Audio to be a side project,” Havok reflects. “As with all our artistic
creations, we care about it deeply.” Havok is dealing in understatement. Puget and Havok care so deeply for Blaqk Audio, in fact, that they forged a record label—Big Death—for the sole purpose of advancing the Blaqk Audio agenda. “Hopefully some of our electrophilic friends will join us on the roster,” Havok
muses, no doubt in earnest. And Havok’s predictions have certainly borne fruit in the past. The relentless work ethic that fueled AFI’s rise to the apex of the modern rock circuit speaks for itself as an
endorsement of Blaqk Audio’s potential. Adjectives like boundless come to mind.
The transition between Blaqk Audio’s freshman debut, CexCells, and their recent offering, Bright Black Heaven, has elicited well-deserved buzz among the tastemakers of the industrial underground. Never reluctant to illuminate their artistic impulses, Puget and Havok provide context for this evolution. “Thematically, Bright Black Heaven is an expansion of CexCells’ hedonistic agenda,” notes Havok, his tongue implanted partially in-cheek. “As a producer, I’m constantly evolving as my skill set changes. So there are some marked changes from CexCells on this album,” Puget continues. “But many of the nuances of Davey and I writing electronic music together will sound familiar.”
As the opening track “Cold War” hits with an atmospheric ambiance of beats that force your feet and hands to move, the listener realizes that this is not just another copy of 80’s vibe. The sound is not only crisp, clear, and well produced, it has a positive vibe that immediately hits between the ears. Sliding into the second tune, “Fade to White”, the tempo quickly increases and the pulse rises. As the LP progresses the layers of electronica build upon one another exponentially to take us on a ride that twists, turns, and bends with songs such as “Faith Healer”, “Deconstructing Gods” and “With Your Arms Around You”. The influences are clear at first, but feel as though they were put in a giant blender, thus producing something with a new texture and feel. Lyrically, Bright Black Heaven is a s good as it gets. It’s enough to get the most cemented wallflower to want to sing, dance, and party the night away with reckless abandon. There are glimpses of A.F.I. that at times break through, like on “Everybody’s Friends” and “Bliss”, not necessarily the guitar driven punk angst, but the structure of the song and the wording of the chorus. These are not bad things, for much of Blaqk Audio’s first listeners were more than likely A.F.I. devotees. Overall Bright Black Heaven is an excellent work that fits very well with CexCells and is a marked progression in the evolution of Blaqk Audio. Travelling along many tempos and tones, the sophomore effort has something for all tastes. It’s a cinematic roller coaster ride on ecstasy with flashbacks of Studio 54, celebrity, cocaine, and underground sex parties. Fans of aforementioned influences, A.F.I., new wave, or electronica will find themselves highly entertained and fascinated by the complex structure and layering within Bright Black Heaven and can only hope Blaqk Audio will come to blacken their day in a city near them soon.