Cobalt 60

[Twelve sleeve]"Twelve" (Album, 1998)


Amazingly uneven yet rewarding album (recorded in Wales) from a short-lived industrial project that saw Front 242's Jean-Luc De Meyer team up with Cassandra Complex's (remember them?) Robert Wilcocks and Dominique Lalement. The result in Cobalt 60 sounds much like you'd expect a collaboration of these three distinct individuals (albeit ones with taste for a common thread). The sleeve design hints at what you'll find inside: a picturesque landscape overlaid with blueprints of machine components, signifying mankind's impact on nature, which several of the songs explore is a variety of ways.

Although none of the songs is longer than five minutes there's little reliance upon the traditional verse, chorus, verse structure. Twelve takes a while to get going. Things only really begin to lift to a higher plane with track four 12 Months, a bombastic counterpoint to Neil Sedaka's Calendar Girl, which crazily blends gentle vocals from De Meyer with pummelling guitars, the whole thing held together by a sublime underlying melody. If it were possible to extract a signature entry from this album then 12 Months would be it as it manages to cram in all the extremes of the album into a single track.

Sweet Violets then is the standout example of the more reflective aspects of the songwriting. It's just 57 seconds long, essentially a picked semi-acoustic guitar, howling wind sounds and De Meyer quoting Dorothy Parker. Dolphin must be unique in the history of music: an industrial song about dolphins, featuring the lyrics: "Swim little dolphin swim" (!). Even more remarkable is that it's actually rather good and is when Twelve really manages to fuse all of its disparate elements into one cohesive whole. Ultimately something of a mess if one is brutally honest, yet at times there are flashes of brilliance. 7/10

Rob Dyer (May 2008)

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