I usually look forward to the latest releases from Nilaihah Records and it's
always interesting to be introduced to a new group like this. I had no preconceived
notions as to what the music released by this group would be like and had heard no
other opinions except for the press release. Like many new bands, sometimes it
takes a few listens to adjust to the newly defined style and let the music grow
on you. So I've delved into the lyrics, the musical bites and sound textures to
try and form some kind of opinion about this debut album.
The Charming Factor seems to be a fitting title for this album bringing out the
heart and soul of the lyrics, musical style and vocals. Charlene pours on the
"charm" in so many ways, a touch of style, but overall just solid vocals in each
piece. At first it seems that the "pop" factor is very apparent with the first
track "Golden Glass", but then you detect the New Wave and Synthpop styles from
the 80's and 90's in the music and it all becomes a little more accessible and
familiar to those of us in the underground music scene that shy away from "pop"
music. Furthermore when "Crowded Room" starts, the mid-tempo beat and rhythmic
instruments bring out the modern tendencies and technology for a full and
enjoyable style. There are many mid-tempo tracks with laid-back elements for
the "chill-factor" from time to time. But when it comes right down to it, my
favorite track on this album is when this duo brings out an almost purely
ethereal track in "She's Left In Silence". The beautiful piano loops, soft
vocals and background soundscapes are completely captivating. This is a great
finale to the main portion of the album because of it's full texture and
defining, yet varied style.
I would have been entirely happy if the album would have just ended at this
point. But after 18 short silent tracks, we're brought to three bonus remixes.
None of which are very attractive or catching in any way, but I do have to
give the remixers credit for original and experimental style with exception
of the first. This first remix is by Blank of "Crowded Room" which really
picks up the pace and adds pounding techno beats and extra synths. But the
experimental trancey "Goa remix" of the same track by Null Device was quite
disappointing. The trance and hypnotic experimental textures end up being
distracting rather than appealling. Neuroactive adds their unique twist to
"Major Philosopher" with their "Hybrid Mix". They also take quite an
experimental twist on this track, really detracting from the solid foundation
the original version has.
Overall a fairly nice album with a new and interesting sound taken from bits
and pieces of styles that have worked well in the past.
Music Non Stop
"The Charming Factor", the debut album from Blind Faith And Envy mixes
Delerium style soundscapes with electro-dance overtones ( as evidenced splendidly
on their US college radio hits "Major Philosopher", "Golden Glass", and "Shout" )
The band present a strong album debut in the vein of classic acts such as Delerium,
Schiller, Nine Inch Nails or even Depeche Mode. Additionally, "The Charming Factor"
includes special club mixes from Blank, Null Device and Neuroactive !
Music Non Stop
Many years ago, a group of folks got together and created purely computeresque
music. An attempt to fuse modern day technology with music itself. They were
called Kraftwerk. As the musical landscape progressed, there became a strong
separation between truly "electronic" acts and truly "guitar" acts. And on the
electronic side more folks, with names like Erasure and New Order, took this
new technology-driven sound and re-infused humanity into it creating what
many of us today call "synth pop."
In an effort to be fresh, new and original the "guitar" and "electronic"
camps started fucking each other and the result were folks like Ministry,
Nine Inch Nails and the heavier guitar-driven electronic. But at this point
things got very muddy, because it was possible to really suck at making music.
Just play louder, nobody will notice. There were stand-outs, sure, but only
truly creative musicians survived alone on the electronic side of camp as in
their world you listened to all the facets of the music without deafening the
other parts over it. It's called "arranging."
Enter Blind Faith and Envy - a blend of all that was wonderful from the
synth-pop daze. Brilliantly programmed electronics by Daniel Guenther, comfortably
accomplished synthesizers and truly pleasing female vocals from Charlene April.
For any one of us that miss New Order, Erasure and dig today's folks like
Dissonance(1) and The Azoic(2), Blind Faith and Envy will really move you to
remembering how good a musician can be when it's about playing better - and
not just louder.
Even shorter instrumentals like Texture are reminiscent of the best of
the old skool synth-pop while not at all sounding dated or rehashed. Heavier
and stompier pieces, like the club recommended When I Know You're Gone, uses
bass as a bouncy control agent to anchor singer Charlene's smooth and sultry
vocals. Building and layering rhythm, percussion and further synthesizer tweaks,
Blind's tracks grow into blooming roses of colorful sound and pleasure. Catchy,
upbeat but not by any means Prozac-ian.
The times when Daniel Gunether and Charlene April combine to harmonize, the
chorus of Shout, a Depeche Mode cover, for example, is so blendingly smooth
that you're hard pressed to tell the two apart though you know there are two
here. Brilliant. Even the tracks on The Charming Factor that are not as good
as the others are still worlds better than most everyone else. Stand Me
Relentless as one example is good but not as stand out as Crowded Room, Golden
Glass and others. But it is still a good track nonetheless.
She Left in Silence brings the main body of The Charming Factor to a slow
ending. After this there are remixes by Blank, Null Device (both do Crowded
Room) and Neuractive (Major Philosopher) at the end, following quite a number
of empty skip tracks. The electro laden remix of Crowded Room by Blank
(Agoraphobia mix) actually starts on track 31.
The Charming Factor is, easily, one of the best synth-pop releases of the
past couple years. Blind Faith and Envy sound as good as when the genre
emerged. As if they've stepped back a couple decades or so to hang out with
the elite of the electronic camp and then came back to this millennium to
drop their work and make us recall when new wave was...new.
Marcus Pan - Legends Magazine
The Charming Factor, the debut album by Blind Faith and Envy on Nilaihah
Records, suffers from what ails many neo-synthpop bands: a reliance of melody
driven songs that appear too formulaic in their approach to really make a lasting
impression on the listener. Vocalist Charlene April breathes life into much of
the CD with her strong vocal presence, but once again it is not enough to
distinguish them from the rest of the neo-synthpop pack. What you have here
is a pop album spiced up with some decent drum programming and synths. Many
of the songs sound like updated Madonna and Stevie Nicks material from the 1980's,
which is not necessarily a bad thing if you are into the current classic synth
pop revival. Overall, I consider this a good CD with admirable qualities, but
entirely too predictable along the way. On a more positive note, the Null Device
remix of "Crowded Room" was an interesting interpretation of the original and
is probably the most dancefloor friendly song on the CD.
Michael Casano - Industrial Nation
Synthpop.net- 5/5 stars
"I really have been pleasantly surprised lately by the number
of excellent female vocal-driven bands that have begun to appear
as of late. Glow, Tristraum and Ever are three other examples, and
Blind Faith And Envy can easily stand shoulder to shoulder with
The band has it origins in a chance encounter in 1999, when Charlene,
the primary vocalist and lyricist met Daniel, the producer and composer
and heard some of his solo instrumental work and asked if she could
sing for a few of his tracks. Approx. 5 years later, we now have
the debut album of this project, with lots of hard work and polishing
in the meantime. The vocalist here is a little similar to Tristraum's,
but only a little. Her voice has a slight husky element to it, but
still with a very clean and pretty sound to it. In the instrumentation,
you can tell that Daniel was influenced heavily by EBM and Industrial,
but synthpop greats of the past as well.
There are some really excellent synthpop songs here, with some
even approaching an anthem-esque feel. "Something Different",
"When I Know You're Gone" and "Golden Glass"
both were not chosen to be the e-single for this album ("Crowded
Room" was), but they are excellent, excellent songs, with great
memorable choruses and some awesome music to go along with it. The
cover of "Shout" must also be mentioned. You'll hardly
recognize this classic track from DM, as it's been given a EBM kick
in the pants and has some real teeth to it now. The remixes that
close out the album are all very good contributions as well. I love
the hyper tempo and pace that Blank has given "Crowded Room",
and both Null Device and Neuroactive turn in very solid remix contributions
Nilaihah Records and BF&E are both to be commended.. this album
is yet another shining jewel in the Nilaihah catalog! Highly Recommended!"
--Jason Baker, Synthpop.net
Chain D.L.K. - 4/5 stars
"Blind Faith and Envy's debut "the Charming Factor"
reveals an artistic maturity and a professional approach that are
rare to find in pop-electronica newcomers. The female-fronted duo's
music is made of well programmed beats and sequences, carefully
molded and layered sounds, catchy vocals and hook-friendly songs
fueled by strong attitude. Daniel Guenther's impressive production,
songwriting and engineering skills are gracefully complemented by
Charlene April's smooth and candid vocals and well thought out lyrics.
Their influences are probably as comprehensive and eclectic as today's
open-minded listeners' and the both of them even have the looks,
which means they'd probably be ready for something bigger at this
very moment in time. The shadow of the electronic music scene is
backing them up. In this album you'll find remixes by Blank, Null
Device, Neuroactive and a cover of 1981's "Shout" by Depoche
Mode. Potential hit singles would probably be the opening track
"Golden Glass" and maybe a few tunes could do very well
in and around the international dancefloor scene too. Basically
it is a well-made and sufficiently multifaceted album, capable of
satisfying the dancing, the chilling, the romantic, the relaxing
and even, why not, the easy listening fan. Very well done indeed."
--Marc 'the MEMORY Man' Urselli-Schaerer, Chain
"Whether it be Charlene's soulful vocals or Daniel's tight,
accomplished programming, Blind Faith and Envy's "The Charming
Factor" brings equal parts old school and modern synth/EBM
to create a uniquely powerful debut album that most artists cannot
parallel even after several efforts. Smooth melodies, sensual lyrics,
and beats galore, BF/E's aural feast pulls you in and won't let
you go. Fans of such bands as L'ame Immortelle, The Azoic, Depeche
Mode, and classic new wavers 'Til Tuesday will relish this fresh
voice on the electronic landscape. " --Matt Fanale/DJ Eurotic,
Nilaihah records never ceases to impress us with their amazing roster
of artists. They keep the music coming with a new group, Blind Faith
"Golden Glass" being a great opening track, is a great
example of the excellent well-crafted songs that we've come to expect.
"She's Left in Silence" my personal favorite, has a more
ethereal vibe to it, proving that the music, as well as Charlene's
crystalline vocals, can provide varied soundscapes that are always
There are also some bonus remixes by Blank, Null Device, and Neuroactive
which all give songs like "Crowded Room" and "Major
Philosopher" slightly different identities.
I encourage fans of Nilaihah and new wave fans alike to check out
Blind Faith and Envy, as they do a superior job of blending many
different genres into one great album. - Sarah Bernardi of Collected
The City Morgue
"The Charming Factor" is the debut from this synthpop
duo, and the sound here is evident in the phrasing of the title
- charming. While a few dance mixes are included, Blind Faith and
envy are rather relaxed, aiming more for the sound found in those
eighties predecessors than that of the current synth movement. Here
tracks like the woodwind flavored "Slightest Wave" echo
an era that had figureheads like Depeche Mode, but with a few modern
tricks, synths, and beats that don't let one forget the modern futurepop
haze. In fact, Depeche Mode is even covered here with a remake of
the venerable Clarke-era "Shout", which feels more like
an update with female vocals, than a total revision. The opener,
"Golden Glass" also bears this influence, but with some
trip-hop languor spicing up its sultry beat. Vaguely, it gives me
deja vu as I ponder comparisons between it and recent Collide. "Stand
Me Relentless" is perhaps the most modern moment here; building
from a light bass beat, it deftly strips and integrates keys and
electronic structures, ending in a rather pleasant ballad denouement.
While ending their recordings in a rather Tori Amos influenced quiet
piano and voice duet, the disc then segues over to the remixes.
As far the remixes go, two out of three are quite excellent. Both
Blank and Null Device completely reworked the rather mellow "Crowded
Room" into an entirely different animal. While Blank add stark
EBM to their version by way of heavy bass bludgeoning and stiletto
synth strikes, Null Device spelunk deeply into the world of goa
trance with a haze of rhythm and the subtle yet awesome addition
of looped hand drumming. The other contribution by Neuroactive is
adequate, but doesn't add much to the pop and strut of the original
version of "Major Philosopher". However, Blank and Null
Device excellently round out this disc, and give the listener breathing
room and energy to pair with the rather enchanting dreamy pop of
Blind Faith and Envy. -- Vladimir McNeally, The
"A unique voice in electronic pop, BFE knows
that it takes more than just sweet vocals to distinguish themselves
from the vast sea of cookie-cutter dance acts. Consistantly catchy
melodies, clever lyrics, and rock-solid programming and production
earmark this band as one to watch." --Eric Oehler, DJ Null
"This one gets my vote for number one... The production
is excellent and the vocals are on par with the mood and melody.
The melody keeps your attention and isn't lost in the production."
-- Scotland Yard, Newport Beach, CA
[The] synth and percussion grabbed me right from
the start. Originality is the key, and you have it. [The] production
is interesting, performance is strong, and arrangement is excellent."
-UpSwing, Bathurst, Australia
Rating out of 4: 3
Blind Faith And Envy are the latest (but doubtless not the last) synthpop band to come
out of the USA & on this, their debut album the duo of Charlene April & Daniel Guenther
prove they do have something worthwhile to add to the genre. Their sound takes on board
elements of superior synthpop bands such as Neuroactive (who fittingly contribute a
remix that fits in perfectly with the album as a whole) & The Echoing Green while, in
April they have a most talented vocalist whose strong voice, which is similar to Swarf's
Liz Green in places, soon proves to be the perfect accompaniment to their harder-edged
style on the opening "Golden Glass" which gets the album off to a cracking start as well
as "Crowded Room" & "When I Know You're Gone" which all benefit from excellent choruses
& the dancey "Stand Me Relentless". Their cover of DM's "Shout" starts off showing
a similar degree of promise although the vocals promote a feel that is so different from
the original I'm wondering if certain hardcore Mode fans will see it as a brave attempt
at something different or outright heresy!! And talking of something different, the
superb instrumental "Texture" slows things right down with a mellow feel similar to
Moby's "Porceline" with some superb laid-back piano leads although the rhythms do pick
up somewhat towards the end while the ballad "She Left In Silence" is an uplifting combo
of excellent piano, strings & angelic heavently voices, not at all twee but a rather lovely
way to finish the album, leaving only the dancey remixes from Blank, who turn
"Crowded Room" into a lightening-paced techno/trance affair & labelmates Null Device
give the same track the Goa treatment. I was actually pleasantly suprised by Blind Faith
And Envy; true, they may not the most original band in the world (but then who is?) but
they are definately one of the best synthpop newcomers. Highly recommended.
"The Charming Factor" is the impressive debut from the new female
fronted act Blind Faith and Envy. Mixing parts of EBM and Electronica,
Blind Faith and Envy posses the necessary skills and musicianship to
create well-crafted songs full of soulful vocals, clever lyrics and
topnotch production. I absolutely adore the vocals of singer Charlene.
She sings with a confidence and maturity that a lot of other acts lack
in the early stages of their career. Just take a listen to the excellent
tracks "Something Different" and the driving "Stand Me Relentless" to
see what I'm talking about.
"The Charming Factor" is exactly that, a charming, poppy, electronica
album full of great songs and even greater vocals. Besides the regular
tracks, you'll find remixes from Blank, Null Device, Neuroactive and a
cover of 1981's "Shout" by Depeche Mode. A very strong debut for this
newcomer and highly recommended.
By GunHed @ Wetworks electrozine
Gothic Beauty Magazine
Comprised of Charlene April and Daniel Guenther, Blind Faith and Envy combines
eloquent lyrics, creative mixing and unique vocals to create fabulous compositions
with a notable Depeche Mode influence. The recommended track list on this album is
immense. There's something for everyone here! Admittedly, the hopeless romantic
in me fell for "Slightest Wave", as well as the charming and sincere, "Something
Different," and the great instrumental, "Texture." The lyrics on 'The Charming
Factor' are definitely what makes it a standout album. Make sure to catch, "When
I Know You're Gone" and their stellar cover of DM's "Shout." (Not to be confused
with the Tears for Fears song!) Skip ahead to track 31 for bonus remixes by Blank,
Null Device and Neuroactive. Catchy stuff!
Jessika @ Gothic Beauty Magazine - Issue #11
Side-Line Magazine summer 2004
The Charming Factor is the debut from this synthpop duo, and the sound captured
is evident within the phrasing of the album's title - charming. While a few dance
mixes are included, Blind Faith and Envy themselves have a rather serene sound
that is more akin to the eighties-era predecessors than the current synthpop
movement. For example, the woodwind-augmented "Slightest Wave" echoes an era
that had figureheads like Depeche Mode, but with a few modern hooks that don't
let the listener forget the modern futurepop movement. In fact, Depeche Mode's
venerable Clarke-era "Shout" is covered, though it feels more like an update
with female vocals than a total revision. The opener, "Golden Glass" also bears
this influence, but with some trip-hop languor spicing up its sultry beat.
"Stand Me Relentless" is perhaps the most modern movement here; building from a
light bass beat, it deftly strips and integrates keys and electronic structures, and
ends in a pleasant ballad denouement. As far as the remixes are concerned,two are
quite excellent. Both blank and Null Device completely rework the rather mellow
"Crowded Room" into an entirely different animal. While Blank add stark EBM by way
of heavy bass bludgeoning and stiletto synthesizer strikes, Null Device spelunk
deeply into the world of goa trance with a haze of rhythm and the blissfully
subtle addition of world beat drumming.
Vlad M. for Side-Line Magazine
Side-Line Magazine fall 2004
Just like The Azoic, BFAE has been licensed to Infacted Recordings for the European
market. This album contains exactly the same songs and tracklists as the album on
Nilaihah Records, so there's no bonus for the young fans of the band. I'm not
considering myself as a die-hard fan, but the sound of BFAE deeply impressed me!
Their music has been for sure influenced by the 80s electropop movement and its
probably not a coincidence if they made a cover version of Depeche Mode's "Shout".
It's for sure one of the single songs, which didn't impress me more than that!
The best way to discover the potential of BFAE is to pay some attention for one of
their absolute masterpieces entitled "Slightest Wave". This is an incredible cut
full of outstanding arrangements and some great 80s spirit, which comes to recover
to whole track. BFAE composes compelling and original structures, which are much
more than inspired by the 80s. They possess a kind of singular way of writing while
the vocal performance of Charlene April is hot hot hot! This girl has a natural
way of singing, which is now and then combined by some sad moods. The "Major Philosopher"-song
is an excellent illustration of this duality betwen sensuality and melancholia.
A next essential element of this band is the power of the rhythmic. We're not very
used to hear synth-pop bands experimenting with complex drum patterns, but there's
an overwhelming wave of power emerging from the rhythmic! In a harder and definitely
danceable way, the "When I Know You're Gone"-song contains a carrying chorus and real
cool bass line. I think there's a lot to say about this debut-opus, which is according
to me more than successful. It's just that it will be not easy, dealing with such a popular
style of music to break through! Anyway, this band gets my total support!
Stephane Froidcoeur for Side-Line Magazine
A Different Drum
Another excellent debut album with sharp, edgy electronic and melodic, convincing
female vocals. Kind of dark, but without being too "goth".
Todd Durrant @ A Different Drum
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