Review Summary: Click Click. Underground. Dusk. Three terms that manage to enter in mutual correlation with extreme simplicity and naturalness.
Click Click is an unknown band today, in little more than in the 80s, since it was founded. Unfortunately remained unknown even among gourmets of the underground, where the industrial of Skinny Puppy, the Einstürzende Neubauten and Coil raged, duly to the fact that, unlike their better known fellow soldiers, they have not taken advantage of industrial wave, and they never pulled out tracks that unite brutality and melody (which instead in Front Line Assembly and KMFDM has brought some success, at least in the underground), but they only ground, fit and refined the sounds they wanted, at the exact moment they unconditionally intended to do so. So, after three major albums (and some minor work) that are passed rather unnoticed (except Rorschac Testing, which ironically is also perhaps the most gaunt, but at least the catchiest), they melted and fallen into oblivion. So, unfortunately, not many people (fans of industrial or not) have had in the past or now have the pleasure of enjoying for example their magnificent mechanic suite Skripglow, not because it is unavailable, but because no one knows it, and in music, unfortunately, word of mouth and advertising work better than artistic value. After years of hiatus and occasional small jobs, they returned in 2014 with Those Nervous Surgeons. Do someone really looked forward to a new Click Click album? Well maybe someone did, but certainly no one would have thought that it would have been a job even in the slightest levels of masterpieces, such as Party Hate or Bent Massive. Instead it is. Click Click never had a time of splendor, but at least their surreal and psychedelic mechanically dark sounds could have had a good location in the 80s underground scene. Today these sounds may be found at most as artifacts of an ancient now extinct civilization. The memory of this civilization nowadays can only be perpetrated by the memory of some old alternative, today nostalgic man; or, alternatively, some novice archaeologist could explore the now cold and desolate corridors of spectacular architectural buildings, being able only remotely to imagine, by any stretch of imagination, how once those works may have been immensely bright and full of vitality.
Yet civilization that inhabited the ruins was not entirely wiped out by the shift in fashion and costumes accompanied by an increasingly cloying modernity, and Click Click is a demonstration.
From the cover, Those Nervous Surgeons already give the idea of a strange and difficult niche album: in a pseudo-comic, a surgeon tries to run what is perhaps his first operation, slowed by a performance anxiety, typically a beginner. How will the operation end? You do not know, even after listening to the album. But perhaps this uncertainty about the result must metaphorically be seen as the uncertainty of a listener that runs on the new Click Click album; so the only thing that makes sense to do is to wait for Click Click to open the abdomen of the now old and ailing industrial music and see if the operation is successful.
Those Nervous Surgeons opens with Passenger: an intro (or maybe not, since it is 4 minutes and 40 seconds long) supported by an obscure dark ambient melody, predicts what will be the mood of the album. This first track already serves as a watershed: the lover of the dark finds himself inevitably drawn to the track, while the inattentive and / or casual listener of "pop" music (as a generalized concept) has already understood it is not for him. After Passenger, jet opens Man In Suit, with drums and bass that, without notice, fire a captivating pace that overwhelms, like a plow, the mysterious mist deposited on the field during the previous track. Immediately one can become aware of how the sounds are surprisingly modern and fresh. Adrian Smith's voice suddenly fits, so overbearing and deadly, but curvy and totally enjoyable, magnificent, holding the music, not breaking it up. With this track (the first complete) Click Click immediately put the record straight: they want to reassert keeping their old style and their charm, but they want to do an original, innovative and modern record, managing inescapably to surprise and enchant standing fans, as the newcomers; without contaminating themselves showing off ridiculous wreaths of exaggerated modernity (expedient nowadays horribly used by hundreds of standing bands), which would make them, in the ears of the listeners, old men insulting each other while playing last generation video games as kids: a performance equally comic and compassion loaded, that pathetic.
Then there's Lock Them Up: One of the most successful songs of the album. A beautiful and fatal witch, in her dark cave, moves sinuously her hands in the air, making arcane but beautiful gestures, while from hes fingers spring colored trails hover in the air and vanish. So wonderfully Lock Them Up release an irresistible psychedelic trip-hop rhythm that invades the listener of authentic pleasure. Keyboards then take the job of manager, steering the song with their mysterious (and always endearing) melody. Cadence is funerary. The more you listen to the track, the more you seem to sink into dark depths of hell, unable to escape. The structure is not exactly typical: there is a verse and then there is what could be a highly melodic (the Click Click amaze more and more each passing second) chorus, which perfectly closes a music circle, providing more bridges and seasoning, than as a main course in the buffet offered by the song entirely.
Rats In My Bed (Version) is a new version of their eponymous track that appeared on some other recent ep. Compared to how it looks elsewhere, this "Version" is much more powerful and musically rich than in other versions. It's almost sour, loud and fast: pure industrial rock, but highly sophisticated. The sounds are perfectly layered and chained together, from the drums that sound undeterred like a silenced machine gun, to the epic and mysterious keyboards, up to reverberated Smith's voice, always beautiful. After the heavenly Lock Them Up, anything would have been poor; instead Rats In My Bed is as if it awakens the listener from his previous dream, casting him into something more pragmatic and brutal, but no less intriguing.
With Factory, the impetuous dark waters unleashed with Rats In My Bed, calm down a bit, while always remaining pitch black. The viscosity of this black liquid that slowly incorporates everything, is disarming, and in Factory its weight is felt even more. The music track sounds like ambient / drone. In black viscous waters one can see monstrosities that barely drag themselves through this liquid, standing out a bit and being a bit transported every time. Factory produces gruesome sounds looking for a little to leave the monotonous drone that surrounds them, a little standing out, a bit drifting in the fluid and clumsy movement. Smith's voice plays in the background as a hopeless lament. The listener can't help but get carried away.
Factory fades to give way to another album boulder: What Do You Want. A distorted bass drum opens the song, playing heavily in an empty space. Mechanical sounds from industry add more and more to the layering, until everything clears, giving way to an irresistible melody, while Smith sings "What do you want? what do you need? What have you learned? What have you seen?", screaming in a deliberately harsh, always echoing voice; as if Smith himself is having a schizophrenic split, screaming at someone or something that only him can see, in his loneliness. A very catchy and complex conspiracy song, which firstly seems to embrace the listener, and then stabs him behind, as new, fresh and captivating sounds are added. Everything is studied in detail: sounds coming in and out, pass and, quickly but intensely, copulate. Satisfied they leave while maintaining a virgin aroma impressed. In this magnificent mosaic nothing leaves the listener in the cold, just like anything drowns him. As soon as the mantra "All seeying eye feed us with your light ..." opens, the listener falls inexorably into a psychedelic downward spiral and here reality is mixed with delirium. As if Smith, by singing, was able to drag the audience in his schizophrenic madness. The singer, however, seems at least to be accustomed to it, while the viewer finds himself in a shipwreck, which ends, at the end of the song, with a desperate arrival, now virtually unconscious, on a deserted beach.
Everything in this album sounds heavy, dark and deadly, as if everything predicted a looming end, dragging the listener into the depths of a viscous black slime that seems to envelop, in a threatening but pleasant way, the mood of the listener.
The other tracks do not add anything to the album, but they continually dress the already exceedingly gloomy atmosphere that reigns, perfectly ending with the final, epic, monstrous and funeral Keep Us Out of the Way.
The skein of Those Nervous Surgeons pleasantly unfolds so graceful yet decided, so ingeniously composed yet unruly, so dark yet fascinating, so monstrous and gloomy yet sensual and comfortable. The surgeon has therefore successfully completed the operation, proving to be professional, despite the initial uncertainty.
Ultimately Those Nervous Surgeons looks as a product made by a Native Americans tribe: a sophisticated, elaborate and rich work: needless to say that it is a complete success, since art and arcane ooze from every flourish, but it is made by individuals who now are nothing more than the remnants of a legendary ancient civilization and they are proud of it.