Review Summary: One of the most overlooked albums in the KMFDM discography, UAIOE is a fun if not exactly essential listen.
KMFDM are known for the variance of styles they display in their interpretation of Industrial. From the experimental leanings of their earliest material to the thrashier, guitar-dominated style of their late 90s output to the electronic rock they primarily play today, they have developed a signature sound that is easily identifiable yet never grows stale or tiresome as they attempt to continually evolve with each album. UAIOE, their 4th album, originally released in 1989, continued their evolution from experimental to electronic/thrash they were displaying with Don’t Blow Your Top. However, this album is notable in their discography for being the one to contain the most notable reggae influences.
Yes, you read that right. Reggae.
Sascha Konietzko is still the driving force of KMFDM’s instrumentals on this album as usual, and his vocals are featured prominently, along with the usual heavily German-accented vocal contributions from Sascha’s then right-hand man En Esch (who even has a song named after him on this one). The true star though, is Jamaican guest vocalist Morgan Andreji, who delivers much of the reggae influence. He absolutely dominates all three tracks he does the lead vocals on. Opening track Murder displays Andreji’s free-flowing stream-of-consciousness reggae-rap style in full force, as he describes the need for people to unite and stop killing each other (that’s my interpretation anyway) and the track contains an extremely catchy synth hook to boot. It is one of the best tracks on the album. His next track, Loving Can Be An Art, is the slowest on the album, and the most reggae/dub like, with its heavy bass and slow tempo. The industrial influence is still there though, with the periodic interruptions of electric guitar. It is probably the worst of the Andreji tracks, but is still a killer cut nonetheless. His final track, Ganja Rock, is a very nice slab of electro-reggae, with lyrics even more stream-of-consciousness than those on Murder, containing not only praise of ganja (hence the song title), but shout outs to other Reggae artists and a description of an encounter with a woman on a sidewalk. Sadly, he never appeared on another KMFDM album do to their revolving-door collaboration style and constant genre-shift of that time and the liner notes of the 2006 Metropolis Records reissue of UAIOE imply this could also be because he passed away at an unknown time (R.I.P.)
So what about the other tracks? You get a booming piece of electro-industrial that has some nice horns in the otherwise unremarkable UAIOE, a polished remix of KMFDM staple More & Faster that contains a slick, albeit brief, vocal introduction from Andreji, a remix of another KMFDM staple, Rip The System, that has the same backing track as Ganja Rock, used to great effect, some straight up industrial metal in Thrash Up! and En Esch, and closer Thumb Thumb, which has some sampled crowd cheers, slick guitar, and a driving beat. Thrash Up!, En Esch, and Thumb Thumb are previews to the styles KMFDM would go on to employ in future works. Of these tracks, En Esch is probably the best of the lot, while UAIOE is the worst. As one can see, the reggae influence is far less prevalent on the tracks that don’t contain Andreji as the vocalist for the duration of the track, with the exception of UAIOE and Rip the System (Duck & Cover Mix). There’s not much really left to say about these tracks, except they are some serviceable-if-standard KMFDM.
In closing, KMFDM’s UAIOE is a unique piece of the KMFDM canon. Morgan Andreji’s vocals are the best part of the album, and it’s a shame he was not utilized for more of KMFDM’s future work. Kaptain K and crew do a very serviceable job as well, bringing the industrial in full force, and complementing it well with the reggae vocals of Andreji. The non-reggae songs are pretty slick, if standard, as well. If you are a fan of industrial/KMFDM, give it a shot. If you’re a reggae fan looking for something a little different, you could do worse than this one.
EDIT: Changed score and summary after a second listen.
Top 3 tracks: Ganja Rock, Murder, En Esch