Previously Unreleased Album by Alan Vega Initiates a Rightful Resurrection of the Suicide Frontman’s Certain Legacy

Several forthcoming posthumous projects are likely to expand Alan Vega's influence on art and music | Courtesy of the artist

Alan Vega lives well beyond Suicide. That 1970s NYC band were the prickliest of the protean US punk scene.

Fueled by Martin Rev’s primitive synths and Vega’s unhinged vocals and assaultive stage antics, where audience participation might include Vega clocking members of the crowd, the duo originally coalesced in 1970 and used the term “punk music” before it was defined, and then used Rev’s homegrown electronics and Vega’s gnarly intoned lyrics, delivered in some odd apocalyptic-rockabilly style, to offer their own grim take on society’s collapse. While Suicide only released a handful of releases during their tenure, their legacy still looms large: one could plug any outlier musician into the circuit that Suicide invented and hit their crackling influence.

After an interesting solo career, Alan Vega died in 2016 at the age of 78; ever the man of mystery, he was born a good decade prior than his “official” birth year. Liz Lamere, longtime collaborator and widow of Vega, has initiated a posthumous revival of sorts of Vega’s life and work. A forthcoming memoir (with a foreword penned by Vega fan Bruce Springsteen) is in the works and the new release, Insurrection (In the Red Records) features 11 tracks originally recorded in the late nineties.

Co-produced by Lamere and Jared Artaud (The Vacant Lots), Insurrection arguably won’t convert any resistant listeners. One of the primary allures of Suicide and Vega’s work in total was the monochromatic droning quality that will either draw you in or leave you perplexed and heading for the exit door. The four minutes of “Mercy” moves along on an agitated drum-beat that hints at a minor-key interval, then slathered with a shard of electro-tech meanness. Vega is in full Pentecostal mode, singing about angels, loss, time, innocence and death—all topics contrary to the current vapid vernacular of bling, reels and self-branding. Even beyond the grave, the man who gave us the high-toned ferocity of “Rocket USA” and “Ghost Rider” continues to move upstream, stealing weird fire from the gods.

Insurrection is out now and available in digital and vinyl formats via Bandcamp. Stream via your preferred platform here.

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