A Split-Second

  • A Split-Second
  • Ballistic Statues (Bel. Antler) 1987 
  • ... From the Inside (Wax Trax!) 1988 
  • A Split-Second EP (Wax Trax!) 1988 
  • Another Violent Breed EP (Bel. Antler) 1989 
  • Firewaker EP (Caroline) 1990 
  • Kiss of Fury (Antler/Subway/Caroline) 1990 

The Belgian duo of Mark Ickx (ex-Extraballe) and Chrismar Chayell first emerged in 1986 with an imaginatively upbeat instrumental dance track, “Flesh.” Despite the promise of a bright future in that vein, A Split-Second wanted desperately to be perceived as a band and, on their next record (“Rigor Mortis”) introduced deep, morbid vocals to prove the point. By the time Wax Trax! in America compiled these initial efforts into a six-track EP, A Split-Second had already issued an album (Ballistic Statues) that indicated a determination to match body music with song structure.

Ickx and Chayell have gradually honed a studio sound built upon electronic drums, fleshed out with prominent synthesizer melodies, caustic guitars and vocals alternating unevenly between the bass-heavy growls favored by many Euro rockers and conventional pop choruses. Still capable of enticing grooves when the mood is right, the best moments on From the Inside are its dance singles — “Scandinavian Bellydance” (also included on A Split-Second) and “The Colosseum Crash” — although the torchy “Last Wave” and the gentle title track indicate some songwriting ability.

Following a live EP (Another Violent Breed), Kiss of Fury shows AS-S pushing towards conventionality; the opening “Backlash” is its most commercial offering to date. A fascination with the darker side is maintained, however, in the moody vocals, visual imagery and a continuing obsession with erotica (“Crash Course in Seduction”). Awkwardly juggling gothic rock, industrial and pop-dance, A Split-Second doesn’t quite excel in any of those arenas.

[Tony Fletcher]

See also: Extraballe