Lead Into Gold

[Age of Reason sleeve]"Age of Reason" (Album, 1992)


Part-time Ministry man Paul Barker's solo album from 1992 is a surprisingly reflective, thoughtful and (relatively) restrained work. From the opening title track, Age of Reason, the pace is slow and deliberate. Guitars and drums lead the way for most of the album, with Barker's vocal grumbling, growling, almost whining at times treated but not distorted like some of his industrial projects.

Snake Oil ("Children grasp love of money, lure of TV, shock of a gun... Cover the Earth with money") ups the tempo a little and takes its lead from a stacatto synth pad, mixing scratching and Middle-Eastern horns. A Giant on Earth begins with a looping bass synth and funereal percussion and wailing horns in the background. Alain (Ministry) Jourgensen is the co-writer here and it shows. It could be a mellow out-take from Ministry's The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste album of 1987. Faster Than Light is perhaps the most distinctive track on the album. Here the keyboards drive things forward, triggering synths and light percussion with the guitars bringing up the rear. Again, the BPM is low.

Fell From Heaven kicks off with huge orchestral strings but is rapidly subverted by a mean bass synth and harsh and plodding drums. More an album of background music than direct listening, there are no real floor filling club hits and clearly that was the intention and a deliberate decision by Barker. Those expecting the hard crossover industrial/rock sound of Ministry or fellow member Chris Connelly's solo work may be surprised. Laid-back and groovy it may be but still for selected tastes only. 6/10 

Rob Dyer