Miserylab is the well known solo project of Porl King, once singer, songwriter and guitarist of legendary UK gothic rock band Rosetta Stone. After disbanding it at the end of the nineties, Porl King started working on remixing and production works under the name misery:lab. It’s under the same name, but without the colon, that he has released 5 full-length albums, 4 EPs and various singles from 2007 to 2012. Now, d-Monic label is releasing “Documentary 2008/2012” a compilation of hits and less known extracts from the last 3 albums, the last EP as well as singles. This release is limited to 500 hand-numbered copies and include a double deluxe gatefold CD and a vinyl 7’’.
The title of the compilation is particularly accurate, especially when analyzing the lyrics, as it shows how the artist’s state of mind has evolved since the beginning of the economical crisis. It is impossible not to establish this link, as chronologically sorted tracks go from resignation and despair to indignation and anger. Lyrics are strongly committed to condemn capitalism and to provoke the listener’s awareness. It is an honest and uncompromising work, as well as risk-taking. This fact in itself deserves one’s full respect and admiration. When combined with Porl King’s amazing skills as songwriter and musician, admiration converts to worship.
Musically speaking, the 17 tracks move between Dark Wave and Post-Punk, with sometimes a more Gothic Rock feel. Miserylab manages to create a very recognizable and enjoyable sound combining typical post-punk guitars and loud bass with drum machines and new wave synths. Avoiding ambiguous dark poetry, Porl King shares his feelings through straight-to-the-point lyrics and intense, driven vocals. No filler here, all the songs are pure adrenaline.
First songs, taken from “Freedom is work” album, have a synthpop/post-punk sound. “Dark times” is catchy but dark and world-weary. As speed of the drums increases, “Making a bomb” stands as a warning from the oppressed to rulers of the world. Next tracks, out of “From which no light escapes” album, present a more gothic rock sound, with harder guitars. “Drowning”’ lyrics may be the most pessimistic ever written, and the mix of metronomic drums, gloomy guitar and loud vocals makes it so oppressive it’s almost unbearable. Following come 4 songs taken from “Void of life” album. “Children of the poor” takes you to the dance-floor, but with a deep message. Intensity and despair increase gradually, with tracks such as “People” and “Void”. They manage to express perfectly disappointment and frustration. “Last day” is a bewitching gem, cold and stifling. It reminds of Joy Division and early The Cure.
Other tracks on this compilation are singles and extracts from the “Somewhere between” EP. The sound goes more rock and guitar oriented on these last tracks. “Fear of the future” exudes anger. “Too big to fail” is another brilliant dark post-punk hymn with a real purpose. It makes you want to dance and cry at the same time. Pure magic.
This compilation is a good opportunity to approach Miserylab’s latest works and a must-have for the fans, as most of the act’s works are only available by download. No doubt it will impact, sometimes unsettle you. It is meant to. As I said before, this is honest music, with a purpose and heavily committed lyrics. If you like gothic music at its best, far from poses and stereotypes, this is for you. And, oh yes, it rocks!!!! ► by Guillaume Renard