During the past two decades, producer/engineer Bob Ferbrache has assisted the Fluid, 16 Horsepower and many of Denver's most interesting acts. Before establishing his mile-high reputation, however, he recorded and played with the gothically in-clined Soul Merchants, and the listenability of this remastered two-CD compilation testifies to his skills.
The Joy Division-influenced band was as overtly derivative as it was relentlessly dour. Indeed, labeling one disc here as "light" and the other as "dark" is an inside joke, since both are pitch black. Unsurprisingly, some cuts now sound silly, including "Mary Had," a disconsolate rewrite of "Mary Had a Little Lamb." But others, such as "Armoured Faction," with its attack on "right-wing fucking fascists," offer a minor twist on a familiar formula, and the overall sound is dense, ominous and effective, even though Ferbrache captured it on primitive equipment — namely, a four-track cassette recorder.
Clearly, the gear isn't nearly as important as the person using it.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Denver, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.