Recent singles from London synthpop artist Rodney Cromwell have evoked the unexpected and provoked the assumption that his new album would be a source of fascination. Memory Box with its recent unveiling has read that script and reveals itself as one captivating adventure of sound and suggestion whilst courting the imagination in a realm of spectral splendour.
The founding member of indie-folktronica band Saloon and one half of acclaimed electronic duo Arthur & Martha, Cromwell (the nom de plume Adam Cresswell) has already drawn keen attention the way of his solo project through his debut album, the 2015 released Age of Anxiety, and three years later the Rodney’s English Disco EP, each drawing keen support and praise. With a pair of striking lead singles paving its way, Memory Box builds on that success with another adventure for ears and imagination to draw captivation from. Mixed and co-produced by Richard Bennett and mastered by Pete Maher (U2, Goldfrapp, Paul Weller, Pixies) the album is a kaleidoscope of electronic sound and flavours in a haunting realm of intimation and contemplation. Its breath is dreamy yet from a body rich in textural reality, together a conjuror of inspiration for one’s own thoughts to weave and play.
Intercom starts the release off, its immediately bubbly presence almost a deceit to its coldwave chilled breeding and an air of robotic intimation. At its core though, the song is as inherently infectious as the common cold and far more engaging a companion as it lays the initial seeds to the album’s hauntological theme, of its reference to “the return or persistence of elements from the social or cultural past, as in the manner of a ghost.”
The dystopian air of the song is similar and as potent within the following Opus Three, the song though a lively dance of moog spun temptation and hope bearing romance in a climate of apocalyptic darkness. It is an ethereal embrace cast but also with an earthly grounding to its darkness around locality split protagonists.
The album’s title track casts cinematic intrigue next; its instrumental air like an echo of the dilemma and shadowy espionage of sixties British TV shows and setting the imagination out on an adventure of suggestion and drama. Fusing synth pop with post punk gelidity, the track proved a spark for thought and feet whilst epitomising the unique storytelling in word and intimation Cromwell presents.
Fluctuations follows bearing a brighter aura if one still centred with a sense of remoteness, lure and temptation a thick flirtation in the loneliness of TV shopping set within a realm of sparkling melody and cool sonic shadowing. The track instantly burrowed deep, favourite song gripped by its grasp even as Waiting Room, to fully captivate, wove a sense of solitude and romance within a soundscape soaked in nagging dystopian chill.
The instrumental detour of Butterflies in the filing cabinet transfixed with crystalline warmth, a moment wrapping previous album cast shadows like a souvenir of recollection before Cloud Catalogue set its particular musing to the celebration of moog animation and melodic joy. Both tracks set lofty instrumental canvases for the imagination to further colour as too the more confined but no less suggestive orchestration of The Small Print, the album’s storytelling pinned down for a minute or so to the detail of melody, fingers and typewriter keys.
The Department of Public Tranquillity seduced with its Fad Gadget-esque serenity amid senses embracing shadows, its other-worldly seduction an irresistible enticement while Wristwatch Television cast the same strength of captivation with its optimistic saunter through futuristic excitement, all the while revealing what comes so often to high hopes, but disappointment seemingly brought with a knowing expectation as borne by its creative smile.
It is another song which had the body instinctively swinging as did Calculations though it was the imagination which was ultimately revolving to its instrumental implications and melodic romance even if hips could not turn away from its gentle but flirty dream pop persuasion.
With The Winter Palace drawing a lively shuffle from the body with its synthpop musing and melodic courtship, Memory Box left as potently and seductively as it began. Across its whole body, the album provided a flirtation of craft and infection lighting up tales of the imagination which in turn inspired ones own…a recipe of creativity so easy to recommend.
Memory Box is out now via Happy Robots Records: available digitally and on Ltd Ed vinyl @ https://rodneycromwell.bandcamp.com/album/memory-box-2
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Pete RingMaster 14/04/2022
Copyright RingMaster Review
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