Saturday, August 30, 2014

GOLDEN AGE-Chains (1991)


There is the 'Golden Age' of music—for me, it was the awesome 80's up until the early 90's; for others, it might be somewhere else along the timeline—and then there is the Italian trio called GOLDEN AGE, which my continued explorations into the obscure world new wave and synthpop music has led me to. And GOLDEN AGE's first and only album from 1991 called "Chains"? Well, it's golden, too! I've already listened to it twice—once last night, then again this evening—and I've found myself hooked to the album's opening track, "Secret Love". Their monotonic vocals immediately brought the English synthpop group DEPECHE MODE to the forefront of my mind—that and the suspenseful melody along with the dark lyrics. Kind of a 'stalker song' if you ask me, with the lyrics saying things like 'I'll be a nightmare stuck on your mind' and 'after school when you're all alone'. But you know what? The song is extremely catchy, and you can't help but to like it! Then you get an extra treat with the 7+ minute 'Mix Version' found at the end of this particular release. The suspense and the darkness then seeps over into the album's title track, the melodic overtures and the beat creating the perfect setting for a song that's talking about being held in chains. Is it the guys who are shackled? Or is it the girl who's shackled? Either way, there's bondage of some sort going on here, as the line 'free me from this world' indicates. From that point onward in my second go-round through the album, I was determined to pay closer attention to the lyrics, noting the interesting stories that were being told with each song; there's even a song entitled "The Story"! I really wanted to get into the mind of the songwriter on "Your Love", a more lively, dancey tune which talks about a girl's love being like a danger. Somebody was headed into more dark corridors of the soul with this one, for sure. Then the real haunting starts—first, with "Haunted Bird". Starts off nice and soft, but then a shift in the production gives the music an unsettling feel, which I'm sure was the exact idea so that the listener could ingest the lyrics better. 'Stay above the heavens, stay in my heart, let me listen to your soul': seems like it should be happy and uplifting, but there's a dark undertone to what he's saying that will make you believe otherwise. If you needed more evidence that the songwriter has a disturbed mental state, listen to "I Know (Chains 2)", the second part of the story of Track #2. Amidst the dancey beat, the glitzy synthesized melody and the ringing church bells, the lead singer is speaking about having to listen to the devil in his mind. Every album has at least one song that makes you go, 'Ooh, I love this!'. For me, that happened twice: "Heaven Is Calling", which has even more haunting going on in the melody, the edgy pop/rock beat and those scintillating orchestral arrangements (and I want to think the lyrics are talking about death, whether literally physically or in a romantic sense, where it's love itself that's dying: 'riding a train with no destination', 'when you're gone, you won't know what you're missing', 'my tears are falling'.....), then the upbeat jam "All We Need", which is one of the more brighter love songs on the album and is jazzed up nicely during the instrumental movements before each verse. Yet the album's most golden moment of all is also the one that I found the most touching: "A Place In My Heart". Nothing like a tender, mellow piano piece brings out the true romantic. Sounds soooooooooo good on the ears, too. So the next time somebody mentions 'golden oldies', include GOLDEN AGE's "Chains" in the conversation, because their music glows as it grows on you:

1. Secret Love
2. Chains
3. The Story
4. Your Love
5. Haunted Bird
6. Heaven Is Calling
7. I Know [Chains 2]
8. Child
9. All We Need
10. A Place In My Heart
11. Secret Love [Mix Version]

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