Alan Vega - It 2xLP
With a blast of electronics and that infamous feral farewell howl, Alan Vega's last transmission It comes back to warn our world. An uncompromising iconoclast who operated at the absolute fringes of sound – pop, rock, electronic, spoken word or otherwise – for over four decades, first as one-half of the heavily influential duo Suicide and then as a solo artist, Vega envisioned It (his eleventh solo album) as both his masterpiece and final statement.
"Life is no joke," he growls on album opener "DTM," short for "Dead to Me." And there was a seriousness and sense of purpose with which Vega approached his life as gesamtkunstwerk, a complete work of visionary art without compromise, restriction, self-censorship or fear.
Suicide came to be seen as the ultimate in audience confrontation and rock nihilism, even if the group also sought to accentuate the ‘life force' of this world as well. "Suicide were about recognizing how alive things were," Vega said. "When it came to our live shows, we didn't want to entertain people. We wanted to throw the meanness and nastiness of the street right back at the audience. Some nights we'd barricade the doors so they had no choice but to stay and listen. Every night was like fighting a revolution."
Their first two albums, 1977's Suicide and their 1980 follow-up, remain two of the era's greatest touchstones, beacons for others seeking to transform their worlds with sound. And even during the group's hiatus through the 1980s, Vega continued to pursue his singular vision across an individualistic solo output. From his 1980 self-titled debut and rockabilly-infused albums like Saturn Strip, through bracing albums like Power On to Zero Hour and now It, Vega forged his own singular path.
For all the darkness and despair that encompasses this moment in our world – and despite his work being depicted as bleak and nihilistic – for Vega there was always a sense of hope and a place for dreams to become reality. "People have always told me that my music is angry," he said. "To me, it was always just an energy. It was the way I perceived the world. The key Suicide song was 'Dream Baby Dream,' which was about the need to keep our dreams alive. I knew back then that something poisonous was encroaching on our lives, on all our freedoms." He fights to his very last breath for that freedom on It, his last will and testament, one that cements Vega's legacy as a seer: "People have always said that my work was ahead of its time. But I've always believed it's been right on time."