A Strange Play (Vol.2) – Tribute to The Cure by VARIOUS ARTISTS (Spleen+)

  Van Muylem    16 juli 2023

In the world of modern rock, THE CURE stands as a shining beacon of creativity and inspiration. For more than four decades, this legendary British band, led by the enigmatic Robert Smith, has been synonymous with groundbreaking contributions to alternative, post-punk, and gothic rock. While THE CURE's music often carries a touch of melancholy, their spellbinding melodies have uplifted and motivated countless fans across the globe.

In November 2014, Alfa Matrix unveiled a tribute album to THE CURE titled "A Strange Play - An Alfa Matrix Tribute To The Cure."


Fast forward nine years, and we're getting a fresh tribute with vol.2 in the series featuring electro, synth pop, EBM acts from the label but also more cold wave, post punk, gothic rock oriented bands from the Spleen+ division.

And while we are all patiently waiting for the ever-delayed release of THE CURE’s new studio album(s) (!?), let us all enjoy the 27 cover versions gathered on this compilation, reexploring the band’s amazing discography through takes on classic hit songs but also more obscure B-tracks. These cover versions bringing forward unexpected details from the original songs or giving them a total new sonic perspective.

METROLAND (BE) - A journey by train shows that you can change a song so that you can’t recognize the original. The project remained within their own soundscapes, minimal wave and influences from Kraftwerk/Telex.

NOEMI AURORA - Friday I’m in love changes the song into a more erotic minded song with her sensual voice and electronic bleeps. It’s a very original approach and I adore it! Choosing one of their best known songs shows that she really dare to play it hard and succeeds con brio!

NEUROACTIVE - The figurehead (feat. Murphy and VP Teittinen) also comes with a more electro minded and a more hypnotic minded and female fronted version of one the darkest tracks ever written by The Cure.

STAR INDUSTRY (BE) - One hundred years brings in more darkness with a powered up gothic rock version and could be seen as a hidden tribute to their beloved bass player who died way too early. The electric drum part is a great extra touch! The sax solo towards the end adds an extra Belgian touch to this song (and an extra innovation towards this song)! This is one of the best covers so far and it’s made in Belgium!

CIRCUMPOLARCold starts with a new sound and adds a stormy weather to it whilst the synths keeps the dark sound from the original. Just sad the vocals are not really my thing (too much sung from the grave, almost like a dead Bauhaus member that turned into a vampire).

IMPLANT (BE) - Killing an arab becomes an aggressive drum’n bass / harsh electro track. This is really an innovative look at a classic and old school hit! Wow! Congratz to Len for making it fresh and powerful! This is yet another favourite cover version!

NEIKKA RPM - Grinding halt gets totally revamped with beats, deep bass sounds and electro bleeps. I just miss a bit of strength in the vocal parts.

IMJUDAS - Boys don’t cry also gets revamped: more beats and a faster tempo with good vocals and in fact becomes a great cover version of an all-time classic track!

AIBOFORCEN (BE) – Apart starts with a dreampop/floating sound. Sadly the female vocals are not always in tune (I feel the Breath of Life would have done it better). Sometimes autotune could be a life saver, not sure if it would help here. It’s a skipper for me!

COSMIC ARMCHAIR - Close to me is another horrific cover version that completely destroys the grandeur of the original with vocals that are not in tune and are also not in symbiose with the music. This song just sounds so wrong (the Azian/Japanese string instrument could have been used for another song)! According to me the electronic approach swings into the wrong direction. Delete it, please!

DIGITAL FACTOR - A forest attacks the most popular track and annihilates the most popular bass line. The vocals although are not bad.

REGENERATOR - The hanging garden fights with a lack of symbiose between the marvellous vocals (too much in the background/the touch from the grave effect is not set right here) and the roaring beats (techno minded). It’s sadly a failure.

FIRST AID 4 SOULS - Just like heaven keeps the guitar sound but adds a harsh voice (and some clean lines too) and beats. Not bad, but I prefer the Katie Melua version of this song!

HELLE9 - Seventeen seconds brings in the first band I yet have to get to know. I didn’t recognize the original at all and prefer to stick to the duet cover version done by Fenne (Whispering Sons) and Peter (Red Zebra). The vocals here sound hellish and make it hard to understand the lyrics, it’s clearly not my thing.

ELEKTROKLÄNGE - 10:15 saturday night gets a Kraftwerk/Telex approach. Fans of the mentioned bands might be in heaven by this version, but I just get bored by it.

TECHNOIR - Pictures of you bring a modern synth driven version and great female backings. The cold vocals are set right here. It’s a more then OK cover version!

THE ULTIMATE DREAMERS (BE) – Lovesong brings in a good post-punk version, but some of the synth driven extra touches could have been kept out of the game. I miss a bit of grinta in the vocal parts, but I think it was mainly the goal to sound sad and depressed in stead of happy and powerful (overfloating the love pit).

THE BREATH OF LIFE (BE) - The lovecats gets the focus on the bass and Isabel’s magical voice. I’m sure The Cure will love this new version and might even ask for a duet? It’s for sure a great cover!

LOVELORN DOLLS (BE) – Lullaby comes vocal-wise close to what The Breath of Life could have made out of it. The music is a bit different from the original too (i can hear some new electronic elements). It's an amazing cover version that will make Robert Smith happy and I feel like he might even ask her for a gig next time. I'm pretty sure The Cure fans will love it too!

KANT KINOPush starts with a new approach and changes it into a harsh EBM track. I’m not sure if the lines taken from a movie have their place here. It’s a refreshing approach, but as a The Cure Fans makes it hard to cope with.

DARKNESS ON DEMAND - The walk brings in a confusing version of the poppy and very happy sounding original. I get the feeling they invited a young Dracula to d the spoken word version of the lyrics whilst the music gets a bit pimped up with more beats and a pumping tempo. The techno minded touch is great and I can hear some potential here!

DIFFUZIONBurn takes a lesser known track (but still a classic one) and gives it an electronic 2023 touch with on top female vocals (that miss a bit of punch). The result is not bad, but I would still skip it. It’s clearly a slow grower, so maybe give it some more spins?

AESTHETISCHE feat. ZOMBIE GIRL - Fascination street gets a modern electronic sound and is a slow grower but even after a lot of spins is not my most beloved track on this compilation.

ARMAGEDDON DILDOS - Let’s go to bed gets a tuned in and pumped up electrified version of this classic track. The vocals are not bad! The pumping beats are great!

AVARICE IN AUDIO - Last dance makes it really hard to dig the new sound and recognize the original. To me this is totally a new song! I’m not sure what the fans will think of this one!

LIGHTS A.MPlainsong keeps the music clos enough towards the original, but the vocals somehow miss that sparkle that makes it great!

METROLAND (BE) - Another journey by train end the compilation the way it opened. Nothing for me, but I’m sure there are fans for this one too!

The Cure has the best vocals, a great bass player and the best guitar player ever. The Cure can fill a full gig with only their hits and still the fans would tell some are yet missing. Covering them is hard. I heard some missteps but also some great versions that could be adopted by The Cure! The fans will at least love half of the tracks on this tribute album!

A Strange Play (Vol.2) – Tribute to The Cure | VARIOUS ARTISTS | Alfa Matrix (bandcamp.com)