Neon Judgement

  • Neon Judgement
  • 1981-1984 (Hol. Scarface) 1985 
  • MBIH! EP (Bel. Anything But) 1985 
  • Mafu Cage (Bel. Play It Again Sam) 1986 
  • First Judgements (Bel. Play It Again Sam) 1987 
  • Horny as Hell (Play It Again Sam) 1987 
  • Blood & Thunder (Play It Again Sam) 1989 
  • General Pain & Major Disease (Play It Again Sam) 1989 
  • The Insult (Bel. Play It Again Sam) 1990 

Another beneficiary of the Brussels-to-Chicago pipeline, this durable Belgian electro/industro band made its trans-Atlantic debut with Horny as Hell, a mechanical-sounding drone of cold rhythms, warm keyboards, barbed guitars and chanted English vocals. Although sex — overeager rather than crude — runs through the entire album, the unappealing music is strictly geared for robot nookie.

General Pain & Major Disease, a refresher course in early Neon Judgement, compiles singles from the very beginning (the live “Factory Walk”) up through the present (a 12-inch version of Horny as Hell‘s “Miss Brown”). The non-chronological retrospective reveals Neon Judgement as having begun as an aseptically rhythmatized electro-thud product of British new wave synthesists — from the grim Joy Division school and the dopey Gary Numan pop-hook division. While later tracks introduce noise effects and more accomplished instrumentation, the band’s unadventurous essence has remained pretty consistent.

The trio brings ambitious new elements (like chipmunky disco vocals and a harmonica player!) into play on Blood & Thunder, but the metronomic music is too monotonous for the effort to make any significant difference. Clear, occasionally interesting English lyrics are a help, but the numbness of songs built on one note and an unvarying tempo is just too big an obstacle to overcome with irrelevant window dressing.

[Ira Robbins]