Martin Rev's eighth solo album.
A collection of cinematic, pseudo-classical themes, all rendered single-handed (probably literally) by Rev on his synthesiser.
Alongside Suicide accomplice Alan Vega, Rev emerged from New York's downtown art scene in the early 70s, and approached his keyboard much as an untutored artist might; in a spirit of discovery, using his limitations, looking for ways to generate texture and colour. He was a non-musician before Eno coined the term, the polar opposite to the classically-trained prog keyboard players of the day.
That same sense of painterly experimentation and non-conformism informs Stigmata. In a way it feels more like an art installation than a typical solo album by a rock sideman. Opener 'Laudamus' is based around an ominous, powerful looped riff with a built-in glitch that is initially irritating, but in fact deliberately draws your attention to the artificial, contrived nature of this recording: no matter how realistic the orchestral sounds might seem from this point on, Rev seems to be saying, never forget that this is music I've made alone with a computer and a synthesiser.
It acts as a kind of overture, introducing the work as a whole.
This is Plastic Epic, Classical Bubblegum, deliberately artificial and contrived.
It's Camp in the purest, Susan Sontag-defined sense, a brilliant fake that wears its artifice on its sleeve.
And yet, there's a basic, heartfelt sincerity here that transcends any lingering sense of kitsch.
The CD's dedication reads, “Angel Mari, spread your wings in joy and fly to the loving arms of the Divine.”
'Mari' was the title of the love song that opened Rev's first solo LP in 1980, suggesting- along with the religiously-themed Latin titles- that this is actually a self-penned Requiem Mass, articulating a genuine loss and engaging with the mysteries of faith and mortality from the heart and gut.
Flash Gordon sci-fi swirls may lift 'Exultate' and 'Sinbad's Voyage' to the level of space opera, but when the journey ends with 'Paradisio' and its evocation of welcoming heavenly hosts, you feel that Rev means it; that this album isn't the laughable, pretentious indulgence of a Keith Emerson or a Rick Wakeman, but an honest stab at beauty from the depths of Rev's synthesised soul.
He's not a trained musician; he's just a guy with a keyboard, using the technology to express himself and see what comes out.
Which is why, in its own way, Stigmata is as honestly moving as 'Ghost Rider' or 'Rocket USA.'
Giving the finger to the proficiency and authenticity brigade, Rev remains true to his own singular vision.
1 Laudamus 2:25
2 Te Deum 3:42
3 Jubilate 2:04
4 Dona Nobis Pacem 3:24
5 Gloria 4:01
6 Sanctus 3:03
7 Salve 2:03
8 Spiritus 3:01
9 Domine 2:09
10 Exhultate 3:03
11 Magnum Mysterium 2:12
12 Anima Mea 2:35
13 Sinbad's Voyage 4:12
14 Paradiso 2:45
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