Beginning in the late 2000s, Italian post-industrial music has seen a trend of bands experimenting with combining both the visual and aural aesthetics of industrial (subtle as they may be, at times) with film noir, jazz, and cabaret. The juxtaposition of these styles has found success, and other projects have taken to adapting the sound. These projects include the likes of Calle Della Morte, Roma Amor, and Macelleria Mobile di Mezzanotte. Division S is another Italian project whose album, Something to Drink 6, falls into this noir-industrial genre.
Something to Drink 6 is the sixth album in Division S’s Something to Drink concept series, released in April of 2015 by Old Europa Café—a label that has released many albums in the aforementioned style. Describing themselves as “minimal-cabaret-noir,” Division S recorded the album in analog using vintage equipment in an old fruit cellar. The end-result weighs heavily on the minimal aspect, bordering on near-abstract lounge music.
Though presented as such, this is not an album of highballs or high-class. While other noir-industrial bands have a degree of romanticism to their music, Division S veers in an opposite direction. Instruments are sparsely played and dead air underscores each sound. The music is repetitive and looped with little variation—an approach already perfected by Allerseelen. The vocals are not so much sung into the microphone as they are breathed into it—an anti-crooner style. This all conveys a blue-collar mentality for the album, evoking feelings Vaudeville instead of a cabaret, or a seedy dive bar instead of a nightclub.
As with many CD releases from Old Europa Café, Something to Drink 6 comes packaged in a digipak case, though a digital version via Bandcamp is also available directly from the band. The cover of the album is a photograph of June Newton taken by her husband, the influential fashion photographer Helmut Newton. While the mise-en-scène of the photograph should complement the album’s subject matter, Newton’s photography is a bit more high-class and affluent than the down-to-earth, cellar-located taproom aesthetics present on Something to Drink 6. This album is also the first in the Something to Drink series to lack any song titles. Taking a cue from the Der Blutharsch playbook, there are neither song titles nor lyrics present in the packaging. This is a misstep, since a listener now has nothing textually to tether themselves to as they experience the album.
Something to Drink 6 takes a different approach to the noir-cabaret-industrial style, and thus relies on a particularly niche listener. Its abstraction and experimental nature will be attractive to fans of Italian noise, while the cult following of Macelleria Mobile di Mezzanotte and Roma Amor would no doubt find the music accessible. For all others, Something to Drink 6 is an acquired taste.
Tracks 1-9 are Untitled