Tweaker - 2 a.m. Wakeup Call
3 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: May 18, 2004
Review by Tony BonyataEver since leaving his former band Nine Inch Nails, producer / remixer Chris Vrenna has kept many a plate spinning - from producing music for television, film and video games, not to mention the many remixing and production jobs he's done for a wealth of different artists. But it's Vrenna's latest band effort Tweaker, which he refers to as his "quasi-solo project," that's been keeping the musician up until the wee hours of the morning.
On Tweaker's sophomore release 2 a.m. Wakeup Call, Vrenna has softened the harsh industrial blow of his debut release "The Attraction to All Things Uncertain" with a decidedly more organic creation. With the use of less programmed loops and more traditional instrumentation, the overall feeling is still nearly as dark and foreboding as his previous material, but just as his former bandmate Trent Reznor did on his last Nine Inch Nails album The Fragile, Vrenna has injected much more heart and soul into his latest project.
2 a.m. Wakeup Call is interspersed with dark instrumentals and a handful of interesting numbers that feature a diverse group of guest vocalists such as Robert Smith (The Cure) on "Truth Is," Hamilton Leithauser (The Walkmen) on "It's Still Happening," David Sylvian (Japan) on "Pure Genius" and the arresting talent of new artist Mellowdrone on "Worse Than Yesterday." Through rich productions and lush instrumentations Vrenna ties all the different vocalists into a cohesive package that delves into the hallucinatory aspects of dreams, insomnia, nightmares and other things that go bump in the night.
While slowly building momentum with numbers that leave an uneasy and unexplainable feeling - just as the night gives way to a new sunrise - by two-thirds of the way into the album there's a ray of hope that begins to shine through. On the acoustic driven title track it's as if you've just awoken from a bad dream and are relieved to discover that's all it was - a nightmare. Likewise, on "The House I Grew Up In" guitarist Johnny Marr (The Smiths) offers a positive sunny guitar line, while the melancholy melody and intoxicatingly sultry vocal of Jennifer Charles on the closing track "Crude Sunlight" makes one wonder if Vrenna really ever wanted this nocturnal journey to end.
Of course, its comforting to know that for insomniacs and other somnambulists alike, the sun will soon set again and give way to this fascinating soundtrack of the night.
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