Information Society - Don't Be Afraid

Kurt Harland, vocalist for Information Society on such late 80s hits as "What's On Your Mind (Pure Energy)" and "Think," would like to make it known that he is back.

After 1992's underrated Peace & Love, Inc., InSoc disappeared from the mainstream music world. Longtime members Paul Robb and James Cassidy left to pursue other projects.

Kurt Harland continued on, releasing a few songs through his original fan club­based label, Control­Alt­Delete. CAD began to provide an outlet for other fledgling synthesizer-based bands like Anything Box, whose members were tired of major label theatrics.

In between driving around in his unique car, which was featured in the video for "Think," and competing with fans in computer gaming tournaments, Kurt finished a new album and signed to a new label, Cleopatra Records.

Don't Be Afraid allows Kurt to return to the style he always liked: dark, melodic, gothic music. The title of the album itself seems to allude to his fans, telling them to have an open mind about his change in style.

Don't Be Afraid's nine audio tracks form a thematic unit; yet, each has its own message. In "On the Outside," Kurt describes the trials of iconoclasts living in a community that does not suit them: "And now they've grown up in these brilliantly beautiful sterile communities."

On "Closing In," the opening and closing samples of a girl talking about slitting her wrists truly send chills down your spine.

This is an altogether different Information Society, and while it may seem shocking on the first listen, it really grows on you in time.

The music is beautifully orchestrated as well, whether it be KMFDM­style guitars, industrial synths, or the ingenious use of samples and programmed loops. It all fits together in a seamless web of intrigue and darkness, as narrated by Kurt himself.

"Ozar Midrashim" is an instrumental piece that could be the theme for James Cameron's next Terminator installment. It's that good!

Kurt also contributes a great cover of his favorite song of all time, Gary Numan's classic "Are Friends Electric."

What developed most, though, in these few years between InSoc albums, is Kurt's connection to his fans. There is a second CD included with the album that holds hours of information. It is comprised entirely of text files, art, videos, and pictures, a large number of which are from fans.

Those who were lucky enough to have kept in the know with Kurt over the last few years have their names and email addresses included in a text file on the second CD.

Don't Be Afraid is not for everyone, but it's a must for those interested in dark, fulfilling songs.

Mike Duffy