Well, I never thought I would review a break-up album – even if it is accompanied by a comic called “William – The Seven Year Itch”. There seems to be something about avant-garde and experimental music that makes it almost resilient to human sentiment. There is no flowery romanticism or over the top showing over emotions. But, here I am reviewing a break-up record. But: if I told you it was a future-dub break-up record from the perspective of a stomp-box called William and a MS-20 Filter Clone called Charlotte – would you listen then?
The music is a weird juxtaposition between the euphoria of finding yourself back ‘out-there & shackle-free’ yet the longing for what passed. Always oscillating between euphoria and depression this album has it all when it comes to electronic technique: hypnotic lines, solos played with various analogue and modular synthesisers, stomp-boxes and effects units – recharged by a smattering of guitar, melodica, talk-box and vocoder.
Plus, there is plenty of bass – which is necessary when it comes to dub.
This forward-thinking project was supervised and co-produced by Kassian Troyer (Dial). It is Troyer who was credited with having the ‘good ear’ when it came to the stem-mastering and was ultimately responsible for the overall sound of this final chapter in a Dub Trilogy.
The opening track “At Muff’s Place”, is brimming with melancholia and is painfully introspective and introverted – it evokes evenings where you smoked too much and stayed up too late … long connections. “Back On The Market” has the obvious implications of being buoyant – there is no trace of Charlotte the MS-20 Clone here – with off beat chords and a sultry vocoder line, it lifts the mood of the album towards a quite euphoria – William is dating again? Already – too soon? The irresistable groove of “Dark Roots” makes a deadlock impossible. “Megalomaniac Microsynth” slows down the flow of the album and gives vent to frustration – all dubbed out using futuristic treatment.
There are elements of 8-Bit Dub in this album – as anyone who knows me well will testify, I am a massive fan of the Jahtari Label. There is something pleasant and necessary about a dub melody being played out in a Gameboy style – as in “Horny Chiptunes”. The journey continues with a G-Funk feel infected track entitled “Cruising Down The Belt” featuring a talk box and alpha juno synth strings.
And … then the depression hits again: “I Miss Your Noise” features a paraphonic MS-20 and culminates in to, what my wife called: ‘A big shoe-gaze-kraut-dub-drone’.
“Alone On A Crowded Bus” is just that – it is the middle aged man who is smiling to himself on a bus, oblivious to what is happening around him. It is a very sad and disturbing track but nonetheless a beautiful ending to a tragic album. This album is incredible – I was right there in journeying along with William – how did Troyer 1) Came up with the concept for the album 2) Executed the album. That is 3) Above me.
However, Storm Doris is bashing the UK. It is cold outside. Much like all of William’s tomorrow’s – but not like this album – you can read in to this album all of your emotional tribulation and relationship baggage; it is a deft, articulate body of work and one I am going to give 5/5.
Released March 24th on 4 Bit Productions.