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The Neon Judgement – Blue Screens 1995 – 2009

by François Zappa

The new vinyl fever has brought us reissues of many obscure acts from the eighties, but also of some legendary bands that, in the CD era, did not see their work released on wax. This is the case of Blue Screens 1995 – 2009, a compilation of material from the last three albums of the Belgian band The Neon Judgement. This year, Dirk Da Davo and TB Frank’s band has also seen some of their hits reissued on an album that was part of the PIAS label’s 40th anniversary. Dirk Da Davo has also been the protagonist of Retrospective 1987 – 2023, a very interesting compilation to know his solo career and his projects outside The Neon Judgement. The album we are talking about now, Blue Screens 1995 – 2009, is the result of a collaboration between DanceDelic-D and Je M’en Fish Records and will be available in three colors from November 5th.

The Neon Judgement was a band in constant evolution and that can be seen in all their albums, from the initial Suffering that mixed EBM and industrial to Are You Real that showed influences of the Madchester sound and that the referential website Allmusic strangely points out as the duo’s best work. At Devil’s Fork appeared in 1995 and is the first album represented here. It was the first work of the duo that did not appear on vinyl, a sign that the format had already lost a first battle against the CD. Along with a good handful of songs, it included remixes of a few of their classics, one of them, the one of “TV Treated” opens the B-side here. Already the beginning warns you of The Neon Judgement‘s approach to the danceable electronic beats of the time. “A Nicer Person (Great Remix)” was one of the great moments of the album, although a child of its time, today it sounds not bad at all with some fabulous guitar work by TB. It certainly should have been a hit at the time. In “Serve”, after the long sample, we find a dark and powerful track, the logical evolution of the first works of the band. The album Dazsoo, released three years later, occupies part of the B-side following almost the same sequence as on the original album, which featured Jean Marie Aerts on production. Here they moved away a little from the more classic sound of the band, although I must confess that it is an album that I enjoy. Among the tracks we have “Hdrom Temptation”, more upbeat danceable but with a sound that is still the band’s trademark. “Jazzbox” is an original, danceable and hypnotic track with a dub touch that together with the Arabic atmospheres of “Turki” give us another side of the band.

Smack, released on Dirk Da Davo‘s own label, DanceDelic-D, recovered the band’s classic sound. From it we have “The Great Consumer”, a great song with social criticism and with that mix of electro and guitars that made the duo famous. “Leash” was released as a single and has an electronic part that has aged very well. “We are Confused” has modern danceable details and keep the spirit of the classic material. “Shiny Happiness” confirms that Smack is an album to rediscover and take more often from our shelves. It’s a dark and danceable track that you could listen to today and think it was just released.

Of The Neon Judgement‘s numerous compilations, this one serves two functions: to document the band’s late period, and to present on vinyl material previously only available on CD. It fulfills both functions to perfection.

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