Red Black Red melds an intelligent singer/songwriter aesthetic with an electronic rock style to memorable effect. The artistic center of the project since its 2015 origins is veteran vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Enrico Fernando who began composing the material on his laptop before committing the songs to full fledged recordings and the insular songwriting process that produced the collection’s eight songs never restricts its accessibility for casual listeners. The sound and design of Resettlement’s songs takes some obvious reference points from artists as diverse as Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails, The Police, and Bruce Springsteen while transmuting them into an uniquely personal approach. There’s no overriding concept guiding the album, but much of the inspiration guiding its writing and recording resulted from Fernando’s intensely personal response to the political and social challenges immigrants living in the United States face as never before. Few albums in released in 2018 will prove as rewarding and multi-faceted.
The dense electronic flourishes of “Kindness” is interspersed with tense, angular guitar lines and churning tempos. It’s a song rarely content to follow a linear path for long, but the energetic shifts in pacing are punctuated by Fernando’s emotive and often Bowie-esque vocals. “Kindness” does feature an abundance of electronica, without question, but the drumming and guitar work boasts an impressively live sound. The industrial guitar muscle bursting out from “The Scientist” has an appropriately intense tenor and mixes well with another unique swirl of electronica that matches the raw guitar work. It is the pinnacle of the release, thus far, for Fernando’s vocal performances and he throws himself into the song with equal parts passion and attentive tailoring to the song’s sound. “Debris” has a distinct signature compared to the earlier songs in its slow meander and largely electronic driven arrangement until the song’s second half. The second half of “Debris” finds guitar asserting its presence more prominently in the sound but never entirely obscuring the electronic instrument. This is a much more emotional, measured performance than we’ve heard from the first two songs and has an artful, effective theatrical effect.
“Dream in Fevered American” is one of the album highlights thanks to many factors. One of the glaring strengths about the song is how masterfully Fernando fills a sub four minute long song with a world of musical color. It’s a near painterly composition – the movements from quieter to busier passages is seamlessly carried off and provides Fernando’s singing with a vivid musical stage. His guitar playing leads the way on Resettlement’s tune “Black Pearl” and the spartan solo guitar opening sets an early melodic tone for the entire song. Fernando’s blending of melody and dynamics is as complete as ever with this performance. “A Cross and a Crescent” gives Resettlement another focused tune full of dense electronica and fierce percussion generated from drum machines and synthesizers alike. The soulful bray of Fernando’s voice comes across through the wall of sound more emotional, perhaps, than ever before and this impassioned fire help makes the song a definite peak. The album’s title track fulfills all of the implied importance and, in some ways, represents Resettlement’s natural climax thanks to its potent fusion of electronic music and guitar. It’s much closer to a straight ahead alternative rock song than many cuts on Resettlement, but it’s arguably Resettlement’s most emphatic moment. The burning spirit that goes into these songs makes Red Black Red’s debut one of the more impactful alternative rock releases heard in some time.