Released in 2001 on Ant.Zen Records out of Lappersdorf, Germany, The Secret is a 5 song EP by Australian singer Veruschka and producer David Thrussell (Snog, Soma, Black Lung).
The Secret thrives in its cinematic-centricity, degrees of warmth are faintly revealed with vinyl fuzz layers and occasional hand percussion. Slow swelling orchestral synths loom heavily behind the otherwise minimal instrumentation, topped with Veruschka’s neoclassical darkwave vocal styling. Where The Secret falters is in the end with vocal-forward tracks Boredom Kills and The Fruits. This isn’t to say Veruschka’s singing is bad, simply that the vocals aren’t utilized in a way that ultimately enhances the cinematic element as much as they could, which leaves the set-up of opening tracks The Secret and The Department unfulfilled.
What could be accountable for this a lack of post-production focus on vocal tracks, or simply a disconnect from producer to performer. Sure, this thinking may reek of cliche label-control, but what I propose is that when the artist is the producer, the producer needs to play a stronger roll in direction if the artistic vision can’t be reached in the already highly-synthetic post-production process that we hear in trip-hop, sampledelia, and other musique concrète adjacent genres.
Alternatively, it can be hard to say what the business arrangement was for this album and how that effected it. Maybe producer David Thrussell played a secondary roll, maybe there were financial or time restraints with having the album produced. Unfortunately we haven’t seen a second release from this duo, which could very well right the course with a stronger follow-up.
While The Secret may lack the vocal prowess of Portishead’s Beth Gibbons, the cold, cinematic production and ethereal Dead Can Dance-esque vocals should win over most fans of Portishead’s Dummy or Tricky’s Maxinquaye.
For fans of: Portishead, Dead Can Dance, Dido
Like Veruschka? Give these a listen: Cold Choir, Theft Design Firm, Haircuts For Men