5th February 2013
They have made us wait for this – a whole year – but it’s been worth it.
Regular readers will be aware of my affection for the work of Gregg and Breen. They have not disappointed with this latest release.
In the first few minutes the sound flies between visceral granular sweeps, heavily reverbed vocals, chittering percussive sound, and speaker crumbling overtones with the memorable “Lucifer” which comes across as the antidote to the recently demised WU LYF via para-glitch electronica. As a statement of intent it works very well indeed.
Matters turn towards Germany with the epic beats of “Seven Sisters” which builds around a bass n drum (sic) surge into a motorik cut-up with bits and pieces flying around the sound-scape with some degree of abandon. Hypnotic and with some reference back to early Cabaret Voltaire via Cluster the piece dissolves, in its’ second section, into a slow laminal ambient orchestral piece which I’d best describe as doom electronica.
The title tune is a mutated funk beat thing with hanging melodies that introduces a vocal performance, from I assume Mr Breen, which veers, arms akimbo, towards a pop sound, we could be back in 1985 when the clothes were a lot fancier and the eye-liner was in abundance – albeit it’s 1985 in a parallel universe where a slightly different aesthetic is in play – Enoesque with a dash of Dusty Springfield. Very lovely indeed. The Borland boys can’t resist a lengthy coda and it surfs over analogue waves into the sunset.
“Dream Horse Reflection” takes three chords (without big boots) and floats off towards Düsseldorf with Ralf und Florian via some Froeseian patches with a nod towards Tim Blake – unexpectedly short for a Borland piece I thought.
“Paris” starts in an utterly wacky fashion with heavily processed vocals and then takes off with choirs of synths to the troposphere surging over a slow beat which holds a line until the piece changes to a delightful piano piece which reminds me of “Before and After Science” era Eno. Some serious attention has been put into creating the layers of sounds as an incandescent vocal performance – think Sigur Ros (in a slightly lower register) and you are nearly there – builds through a mist of reverb to create a majestic sound.
“Necromancer” continues the orchestral/vocal feel with some serious fx being added in this instance – a lovely bass sound just below the ear threshold and little trinkets of glassy sound fall into place – there may or may not be some guitar in their somewhere – it’s hard to tell – but generally the overall effect is stunning as the piece both builds and breaks down as it develops little offshoots of sound which are quite unique.
Back to doom electronica territory for “Stained Glass” which has a real tension to it from the outset. What sounds like a morphed bass patch rumbles away as the usual layers of synths scurry around the edges until they break through the surface to deliver a sombre melody which is completely counterbalanced by a faux marimba melody line. Some echoes of TNT/Standards era Tortoise come into play as an infectious drum pattern kicks in about half way through. Once again the duo demonstrate their uncanny ability to build pieces organically to create a mammoth sound. The typical Borland structures are here – create the tension, build to a climax and then melt away slowly throwing in a few curve balls as you go. Probably the best thing on the album for me.
“Precious Hugs” closes matters in reflective mood – back to Eno land – albeit with a particular Gregg/Breen stamp.
All in all a marvellous piece of work.