Kudzu – Defeated

With a sound as eclectic and unpredictable as it is ravenously catchy, US synth pop duo Kudzu have just released their new album, Defeated. It is an infestation of infectious hooks, flirtatious synths, and rousing escapades but to tag it merely as synth pop is an injustice to its diversity, the album a stirring web of post punk, electro punk, industrial and more across its seriously magnetic body.

Springfield based Kudzu consists of Seth Goodwin (vocals, synth, and drum programming) and Mark Gillenwaters (vocals and guitar). Inspirations to the project include the likes of Tears For Fears, The Cure, Spectrum, Guided by Voices, Sympathy Nervous, and This Heat but as suggested, their sound has a much broader tapestry which is as bred in the seventies/eighties synth landscape as the creative now. It makes for a proposition which is as familiar as it is boldly fresh and one massive treat of a listen.

It opens with the punk assault of Some Cops, a track bursting from its electronic shimmer with zeal and urgency soaked in creative dissonance. At the same time it is a virulently catchy incitement, its fuzzy fumes leaving the senses as woozy as the bone shuddering beats. Like Calling All Astronauts meets Artery at its core, the song equally embraces psych rock winds in its contagious turbulence to provide Defeated with one ear grabbing start.

Straight away the variety of the album is at play as the following and quite superb No Backbone breaks the dividing peace with electro pulses straight out of the early Mute Records catalogue. Instantly thoughts of bands like The Normal arise but are soon pushed to the background as guitar spun melodies and harmonic vocals tease and caress respectively.  The hook Gillenwaters casts with his strings is simply delicious, a psyche enslaving lure soon backed by the darker pulsation of keys and the snapping resonance of rhythms; kind of like a fusion of B-Movie, The Cure, and Modern English yet unique from start to finish.

The album’s title track brings a scuzzier breath to ears; its post punk irritability echoed in the John Lydon textured vocals but again there is a repetitious coaxing teasing and tempting at the centre of the fuzz ball which necessitates only submission to its infectious demands. As its predecessor, it brings another hue to Defeated as does next up Burn Yourself, though its electro punk surge is akin to the opener. With the increasingly magnetic vocals almost gliding over the tides of noise springing from synths and guitar, it was so easy to be swept up in the raw yet skilfully nurtured arms of the track as thoughts colluded with its lyrical insight. Defeated is described as “a reaction to mounting disappointments and frustrations with increasingly frustrating and disappointing realities” and with intimacy and a worldly observation its often dissonant words hit the spot whilst almost arguing with the rousing catchiness of their vehicles.

The mesmeric Balking the Grave is next, the song a riveting post/gothic punk shadow bound serenade which almost seeps under the skin with its slow drawl and bordering concussive clang while Sleep in Disguise is a boisterous slice of synth pop/new wave with the scent of bands like Mr.Kitty, OMD, and early Human League to its bright if slightly caustic breeze.  Both tracks border the irresistible yet still get slightly outshine by One Purpose with its flirtatious Blancmange like melodies and climate.

One definite peak in the lofty heights of Defeated is followed by the ear grabbing proposal of When You Were Mine. The song is almost like a weave of the best traits of its predecessors, a tenacious pop song with attitude and seduction in its raw charms which manages to grumble and serenade in the same breath before leaving to allow B.I.Y.E. to bring things to a transfixing close. With its cold scenery and instinctive bounce, the song merges the alluring traits of a Joy Division and Modern Eon in its industrially edged and melodically draped canter. It is a fine end to an album which we are finding hard to shake off as new propositions to look at build up. That is never a bad aspect to have and as Defeated is so enjoyable we are certainly not complaining.

Defeated is out now via Push & Pull Records; available @ https://kudzukudzukudzu.bandcamp.com/

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Pete RingMaster 09/03/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Some Kind of Illness – Awakening

In a time where each day and every twist within it brings some form of tension or reflection of humanity’s quest for self destruction, we need a place to escape, to embrace a calming beauty within the chaos. One such place is the new album from UK duo Some Kind of Illness. The mesmeric Awakening is an oasis in the turbulence, a realm of elegant ambiences and warm melodies and though shadows and melancholy equally line the flight of the release they are all part of the evocation guiding ears and thoughts to an experience reflecting the album’s title.

Hailing from Farnworth, Some Kind of Illness is the creation of brothers Mark and Paul Hinks. The project emerged around 2014 bringing an alternative/indie guitar sound which swiftly drew positive attention especially with the release of the pair’s self-titled debut album in 2015 By then the band had become a busy proposition on the surrounding live scene and played numerous iconic venues across Manchester and Liverpool spreading out across the UK as well as shared stages with the likes of Tom Hingley and The Jackals and going into the following year, The Primitives. 2016 also saw the again highly praised release of second full-length Souls as well as the unveiling of Nick Connors’ film Northern Lights for which they wrote the soundtrack.

With Awakening, the pair has explored the qualities and depths of a retro Roland D-50 synthesizer and an 808 Drum machine around their weaving of guitar suggestion. The album also moves within a lighter climate of emotion in comparison to its predecessors, again its title echoed across tracks which are unafraid to hug shadows and darker feelings but explore the beauty in all. It opens with the instrumental caress of its title track, keys and guitars wrapping each other’s grace in a slowly revolving flume of temptation. Its hypnotic beauty is followed by the equally calm climate of Neon Glass though immediately beats are a lively lure. There is a great eighties post punk/new wave feel to the track, bands such as Human League in its first guise and Eyeless in Gaza coming to mind as the song seduces the imagination.

No More Waiting embraces similar hues within its gentle hug of ears; its ethereal atmosphere warmly clinging to the vocal declaration before the pop kiss of Violet Dream floats over the senses like the morning mist on an autumn day. The song features the enchanting tones of Hara Su, an engaging spice on the beguiling melodies of guitar and keys which tease ears. There is a hint of discord to the track too, a whiff of unsettlement which sparks thoughts as potently as the reflective prowess of word and tone.

The captivation continues through the Slowdive-esque Memories In A Window and the instrumental whispering of Ledana, both tracks an individual province of melodic suggestiveness and emotional intimation which lure ears and thoughts away from a moment of reality. They in turn are followed and matched in temptation by Cyclone which welcomes the innocence graced tones of Daisy Davies as it immerses the senses.

The dark touches of the real world continue to be eluded with the celestial flight of Icarus, its lofty beguiling atmosphere lined with darker omens as keys and vocals float across the rich captivation while with its own off world spatial hints, Snowflakes gently falls around the poetic portrait cast by Virginia Martelozzo. Each is a bewitchment which almost haunts the senses before the shoegaze shadows of Crystal Light bring the release to a lucent close. Melodies sparkle off of its energetic slumber, vocals similarly a vibrant lure into the track’s radiant depths.

It is a fine end to an album which simply grows more beguiling and impressive listen by listen. We all need an escape from the surrounding tempest, the compelling echoes and layers of Awakening just might be yours.

Awakening is available now @ https://somekindofillness1.bandcamp.com/album/awakening-lp

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Pete RingMaster 16/09/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Snuttock: An introduction of Rituals

Photograph by Laurie A Smith

Allow us to introduce you to Snuttock, a band from Baltimore in Maryland consisting of Bryan Lee, a classically trained musician, and Christopher Lee Simmonds, the latter also a founding member of Michigan progressive metallers Thought Industry. There the background to the pair and Snuttock ends though the fun and real discovery of the electro outfit is through their music. Some might pin it down as synth pop and certainly that is its breeding but with sonic and emotion cast shadows, a kaleidoscope of flavours and textures, and more twists and curves than a descending slinky, it makes for a proposition which never leaves ears and imagination lost for adventure.

Formed in 2003, Snuttock released debut album Straight Jacket Life two years later. It was the first insight to the pair’s blossoming fusion of industrial rapacity with the instinctive allure of synth pop; a blend shaping Carved and Sutured in 2008 and its collection of new tracks and dance-floor friendly remixes. Where we come in and cast a glimpse into, thanks to Lee and Simmonds themselves, is with the band’s last two releases, Endless Rituals and Rituals Redux. The first is in a way the duo’s proper second album, though it seems to be classed as the third, and was released in 2013. Its successor came out last year and sees a host of artists presenting remixes of its predecessor’s tracks, the album acting like a companion piece to the originals bringing new sides and personas to their already captivating characters.

What Endless Rituals quickly establishes is the diversity across the sound and creative enterprise of Lee and Simmonds; songs ranging from simply synth pop to industrial, dark electro, ambient and much more.  As expectations and assumptions of what comes next arise they are quickly shot down and left floundering as song by song the release persistently presents a new facet to its swiftly captivating presence. For all its twists and new sides though, there is a coherency to it all which links it all as something truly individual to Snuttock.

From opener Attention, intrigue is an eager response, the opening shadows of the track rich in suggestion and invitation before the track breaks into a vibrant stroll. That vibrancy is soon a flood across hungrily catchy endeavour, grabbing body and ears with zeal and infectious energy. There is a feel of early Mute Records bands to the song, The Normal coming to mind most and the laying down of the first compelling moment in the album’s landscape.

The dark wave scented, robotically natured Single Cell Antenna is the first twist in the emprise of sound within the album, its dance dexterity and pop glow managing to also cast a dystopian shadow over the affair. New turns flow through ears from thereon in, the emotional reflection and melancholic sharing of the Depeche Mode like People Too, the reserved but open funk of We Learn with its BEF air, and the dark ambience of Nameless straight away expanding the broad terrains honed by Snuttock. The last of the three is like a flight across cosmopolitan lands, its instrumental blossoming in adventure and suggestion with something akin to a merger of Kraftwerk, Thomas Dolby, and pre-split Human League.

It is fair to say that every track within Endless Rituals stirs the senses; the outstanding and dark, almost predacious presence of Crawl invading the psyche with a prowess reminding of UK band Defeat giving one particular favourite moment though with its thought romancing, dark atmospherics One Day and Spitting Into The Wind with its Blancmange meets Artery like emotive theatre leave their magnetic mark. Even throwing a handful plus of references to give a hint of the songs on offer, the uniqueness of Snuttock is the driving force and continues to captivate across remaining tracks like the haunting post rock/electro ambience of Ghost and the irresistible electro punk popper Advice.

Endless Rituals is a treat, even more so if you can get the deluxe edition with an additional four tracks, which newcomers to Snuttock should make their entry point though Rituals Redux certainly makes for a potent invitation too. Even after years of taking them on board, we have yet to get our personal heads around the appeal and maybe even purpose of remixes especially when the originals are so impressive and dominate. We can equally understand their popularity and in turn demand for others though, even more so after listening to Rituals Redux. Whether it was because we heard it first and numerous times before Endless Rituals, the album like a film or TV show hinting at the majesty of a source book, or simply the quality of the tracks on offer, the mix of all maybe, it certainly awoke an appetite for the Snuttock enterprise and a fun in imagining their originals.

First the only ‘negative’ with the album and that is its radio show skits and bumpers. Whether they are taken from a real show or are simply cast to suggest that surrounding they do niggle personal tastes, especially when coming back to back. It is a minor thing of course and certainly once the music descends and remixes from the likes of Psy’Aviah, Marsheaux, [:SITD:], TweakerRay, and Sebastian Komor, is forgotten as feet quickly leap and the spirit jumps opening track and a sparkling take on Advice by Leæther Strip. Each track takes the core essence and heart of the original songs and casts them in a fresh landscape of imagination or shadow of dark suggestiveness. Major highlights for personal tastes include Sebastian Komor’s fizzy take on We Learn and indeed Marsheaux’s warmly seductive version, The Metroland Protocol’s hypnotic twist on Single Cell Antennae, the noir lit take of the same song by The Rorschach Garden, and Psy’Aviah’s haunting at times senses stalking remix of Spitting Into The Wind.

As we said though, and maybe surprisingly, considering its 2 CD, eighteen track length, Rituals Redux hits the perfect  spot with artists such as [:SITD:], Amarta Project, Statik SeKt, Retrogramme, Red This Ever, TweakerRay, Guilt Trip, L’Avenir, Diskodiktator, and Deutsche Bank Machine equally lighting ears and enjoyment with provocative interpretation and craft.

So that is Snuttock, a band which if synth pop and broad electronic adventure is your appetite should make for a highly pleasing new exploration.

Check them out more @ http://www.snuttock.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/Snuttock/  and their music @ http://www.snuttock.com/store.html

Pete RingMaster 31/05/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Meter Bridge – It Was Nothing

Meter Bridge _RingMaster Review

It Was Nothing is the new single from Canadian duo Meter Bridge and a song which again shows the ability of the band to create a sound seeded in eighties synth pop but equally revelling in the genre’s modern invention. It is a quality which was already in evidence and acclaimed in the band’s debut album Slow Motion, from which It Was Nothing is taken, but it never does any harm to remind especially with virulent infestation of ears like this.

Meter Bridge single cover_RingMaster ReviewMeter Bridge is the pairing of Richard Kleef and Jill Beaulieu, a Nelson based duo which came together in 2011 and quickly began picking up a keen following. 2014 saw the release of their self-titled debut EP with Slow Motion coming a year later, both stirring up potent attention on the international electronica scene. The twining of their vocals within rich electronic caresses alone had ears enticed whilst the melodic simmers and livelier eruptions explored only added to the inviting drama of sound in especially the latter release, as now epitomised by It Was Nothing.

References to bands such as Kraftwerk and Ladytron are seemingly a regular comparison to the band, and understandable as the single strolls in with dour yet smiling bass pulses aligned with a flowery breeze of melodic tempting. The contrasting yet potent pairing of Kleef’s dark tones and Beaulieu’s warmer vocal caresses makes for quick magnetism, they enhanced further by a spice of variety which also tempts from within the music as a touch of Landscape smoulders alongside a Human League like air which bridges the two eras of the Sheffield band. Throw in a splatter of Thomas Dolby and Hot Chip and you get a scent of the rich enticement of It Was Nothing.

The single comes with a remix by Rodney Cromwell; a version which in many ways gives It Was Nothing a new side to its character rather than just a makeover. It opens with an Altered Images like electro shimmer which soon takes on a more Visage like nature musically and a Calling All Astronauts sounding adventure to the leaner vocal mix and rawer textures. Though not a big fan of remixes, the track certainly held the ears and appetite as firmly as its source and helps give a new nudge to those still unaware of the band’s synth pop adventure.

It Was Nothing is available now as a name your price download @ https://meterbridgeweatnurecords.bandcamp.com

http://www.meterbridge.ca/   https://www.facebook.com/meterbridgeband

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Pete RingMaster 05/02/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

For more exploration of the independent and promotional services check out http://www.zykotika.com/

Mr. Strange – The Bible of Electric Pornography

Mr. Strange 2015 pic 5_RingMaster Review

For a long time Mr. Strange has been one of the British music scene’s most imaginative and unique songwriters and artists, and one of its biggest unrecognised talents. Whether as the frontman of the brilliant circus rock steampunks, The Shanklin Freak Show or in solo adventures, he has teased and stoked the imagination whilst exciting ears with perpetual regularity. Potent spotlights have always seemed to fall elsewhere though, but that might be about to change, in fact expectations are sure it will as new album The Bible of Electric Pornography spreads its electronic seeded sermon.

The persona and sound of Mr. Strange has undergone a rebirth, a major evolution in all aspects in the time between acclaimed previous album Wonderful World Of Weird and the new slab of alchemy from his deviant creativity. Embracing fresh industrial and electronic temptation whilst weaving in numerous other rich flavours, Mr. Strange has opened up all sides of psyche and imagination whilst wrapping new songs in the so-called deviancy that others claim is pestilence. Thematically The Bible of Electric Pornography is defiance and a middle thing to the oppressive ‘normal’, an anthem for the supposedly grotesque, for the freaks and the like-minded unique; an encounter which also happens to rock like a thousand orgies to stand in the words surrounding the album, as a “sacrilegious assault of electro-influenced filth!”

Mr. Strange EP album cover NEW_RingMaster Review   The album opens with Born Again, and the birth of they, of Mr. Strange. Upon arrival electro pulses and shimmering melodies crowd around the creative cot, his vocals providing the commentary as synths strengthen their drama and the atmosphere becomes shadowy. There is a portentous air to the track but one breaking into the dawning of climactic sounds and the heralding of Mr. Strange’s new realm of invention, which in turn sparks the stomp of Deviant Ritual. Making a sort of bridge between past triumphs, the song sharing open essences of The Shanklin Freak Show and previous solo album, keys swing and vocals entice as beats grip with potent temptation. In no time the track has the body acting like its puppet, limbs and energies flung around to the wicked swagger and infectious seduction of the outstanding protagonist.

Disco Bitch is on an immediate prowl next, though its gait has a more boisterous than predatory energy and design to it. Quickly into its robust stroll with compelling walls of electronic tenacity and enterprise, the track resonates with Being Boiled era Human League potency and colouring, a scent dirtied and fuzzed up by the craft of Mr. Strange as electro squirts lure and bassy rhythms dance with the passions. As its predecessor, the track is a blaze of dance-floor devilment and raucous sonic eroticism, incitements to get the defiant and proud party started before the album begins setting its sights on prosecutors, Electric Pornography continuing the festivity whilst flirting with the devil and its breed like a seductive pout of devilment. Amongst inspirations for the album, Mr. Strange offered Electric Six recently and definitely the track shares their kind of dance/rock devilry.

A thicker air of intensive energy soaks the following Tension, its emotive breath crafted and accentuated by darkly enticing rubs of guitar and moody bass tones as synths cradle the warmer hues of voice and melodies. It all unites in provocative electro rock persuasion which again has ears, hips, and thoughts emotionally and psychically involved.

A tirade of sample pieces spouting religious and social bigotry fattens God Hates Me next, keys initially a misting of melancholic elegance eventually brewing into more dramatic smog, though still with despair rather than outrage as its hue. The piece leads into the remarkable Jonathan, easily one of the pinnacles amongst a constant range of peaks within The Bible of Electric Pornography. It is a narrative for and growing support of the track’s oppressed champion which as the character, grows into its mesmeric creative skin as simple melodies align to weaves of electronic and industrial resourcefulness. Ebbing and flowing in intensity as the voice of Mr. Strange reveals all, the song is simply glorious, as lyrically impacting in its croon as it is invigorating musically, and easily one of the best things heard this year.

Do It Like… is another exhilarating whipping up of body and soul, a song inspired by Pete Burns and his life/attitude whilst musically drawing on the contagious invention of Dead Or Alive and indeed Nightmares In Wax which evolved into the former, and merging it with Celldweller like steeliness . Every element of the song has the body, inside and out, bouncing and swinging whilst again nudging thoughts with its lyrical potency.

The bubbly punch of I Like Girls & Boys is the next to take over, sculpting rousing crescendos of skittish beats and scuzzy electronics along its magnetic body, expulsions conducted by the ever Mr. Strange 2015 pic 7_RingMaster Reviewalluring tones of its creator. Though not in an obvious way, there is a definite feel of Fad Gadget to the song, to its theatre and emotive richness whilst My Addiction gets down and funky offering up hints of a Heaven 17 and Blancmange in varying degrees. By now it is not unusual to leave a song without a smile on the face and appetite, this of course no exception with its warmly stimulating hug.

The noir jazziness of Sodom Nights brings yet another eclectic shade to the album, its melodic waltz and electronic seduction a sultry fondling of the senses and inciter of lusty contemplations, that dark romance followed by the rapacious sinister sizzle of D/s, a fuzzball of temptation featuring Global Citizen. The crawling magnetism of the track is just sonic addiction matched by the bold lure of Stormtrooper In Drag, a striking cover of a solo song released in the eighties by Tubeway Army guitarist Paul Gardiner and featuring Gary Numan who co-composed, sang lead vocals, and played on it. It is one of those ‘lost’ gems now given new life, re-vitalised by Mr. Strange’s innovative touch.

Closing up the album is firstly Fag, a leviathan of rhythmic tempting with a Manson-esque snarl providing the most irritable proposal upon The Bible of Electric Pornography and in turn one of its numerous slices of ear slavery and lastly The Last Song. Providing a bewitching serenade with a message for those who hate change, and might argue about the new direction Mr. Strange has taken, its defiance to any complaints openly and mischievously argued by the strong and highly enjoyable Kraftwerk influence, the track is pure captivation bringing the album to a thrilling close.

Familiarity and uniqueness collude within The Bible of Electric Pornography, with the latter the overriding substance, the album leading the second coming of Mr. Strange and easily eclipsing previous solo offerings, as impressive and they were and still are. We are looking at a release boldly challenging offerings from the supposed electronic big boys and girls, challenging and surpassing.

Mr. Strange is dead. Long live Mr. Strange!” Time for all to join the resurrection.

The Bible of Electric Pornography will be released November 16th, pre-ordering available now @ http://mrstrange.bigcartel.com/product/electric-pornography-cd-album-pre-order

http://www.mrstrangemedia.com https://www.facebook.com/Official.Mr.Strange https://twitter.com/MrStrangeMedia

Pete RingMaster 05/11/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Masters Of The Radio – Origin of Radio

MoftheR

Masters Of The Radio is another band which tangles nostalgia and new strands of sound into fascinating and highly enticing slices of modern invention. It is an increasing trend it seems, especially within electronic and synth pop, and capable of producing some rather flavoursome and enjoyable propositions such as the UK band’s Origin of Radio EP. We had a striking taster of it with the single Radio Forever, released a few short weeks back, and now get the whole increasingly captivating meal with its four tracks of electro pop drama.

Hailing from Widnes, Masters of the Radio was founded in 2008 by vocalist/writer Paul Ventux. The line-up within the band has changed a few times over the years but this past January saw Ventux enlist new personnel in the creative shapes of bassist Taylor Manwo, drummer Murphy the Destroyer, and keyboardist Mr Darklight. The combination has ignited a spark in the energy and impetus of the band it is fair to say, one fanned by the aforementioned single and now in full flame with Origin of Radio.

10406701_10153744529814392_6293799804298505228_nThe EP opens up with You’ll Never Be Famous, a darkly hued song which from its first breath brings a noir lit landscape to its ambience and emotion. Within that though keys cast melodic warmth and intrigue which feeds both the light and darker elements of the song as rhythms almost prowl around the scenery. They carry no ill intent but certainly offer more depth to the shadows within the song. Despite those shades, it is a vibrant and catchy proposal bred on seeds of bands like OMD and early Human League, and swiftly has feet and imagination wrapped up in its presence.

The magnetic instrumental adventure of The Drive comes next, the steely bass lures of Manwo sparking appetite and imagination first and continually across the piece whilst Giorgio Moroder flavoured keys cast a seductive and lively spatial incitement sure to immerse thoughts whilst the bouncy rhythms will have bodies courting the dancefloor. A flight of melodic temptation with cinematic enticing, the track is a bewitching waltz ripening the passions up for the closing song. Before getting to it though there is the brief interlude of Intermission/Coming of the Light. Whether an introduction or warning, not too sure how to describe it honesty makes us admit it is skipped with most listens from a hunger to get to the enjoyable devilry of Radio Forever.

Like a mix of The The and Paul Haig, the song flirts straight away with an irrepressible melodic smile and an infectiousness to match. As melodies broaden and greater creative colour soaks the twists and vivacious rhythmic shuffle of the song, that early contagion just increases especially in the inescapable call of the chorus. It is a tremendous end to a thoroughly enjoyable release, and still the song which most suggests that Masters Of The Radio has the potential of seeing big horizons come their way ahead.

The Origin of Radio EP is available now

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RingMaster 28/04/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard on Reputation Radio @ http://www.reputationradio.net

 

The Department – Alpha

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Like an A-Z of synth and electro pop bred in a parallel universe, the debut album from Swedish/British synthwave band The Department is one of those introductions which simply absorbs attention. A feisty mix of nostalgia and fresh imagination with a perpetually virulent infectiousness, Alpha blossoms with familiarity and new invention, embracing past decades whilst opening up new adventures. Two years in the making it is mostly though, one fascinating and exciting proposition leaving ears and pleasure with seriously greedy appetites.

The Department is the creative project of Londoner Rob Green (vocals / synth), who used to make progressive house records in the mid-nineties under several monikers, and Gothenburg musician Magnus Lindström (synth) who also plays in Swedish electro band called Mr. Jones Machine. United as The Department in 2012, the pair has since played with the likes of Naked Lunch, The Woodentops, Ekkoes, and Kids On Bridges, and at such venues as Romo Night club in Sweden, the 100 Club, Analogue Nights, The Hope & Anchor, and The Macbeth, all to increasing attention and acclaim. As mentioned they have spent the past two years working on Alpha, a release which in return immediately thrusts the duo into the full gaze and frontline of modern electro rock and pop.

From the first embrace of opener Don’t Give Up, the band’s album is a revolving kaleidoscope of recognisable sounds and flavours crafted into original and bracing exploits. Song one makes a slow and suggestive entrance as electronic percussive coaxing brings a slightly portentous feeling to the immersive and stark breeze of the synths. As their presence and melodic expression expands, so does a warmer underbelly to the emerging song, spreading and intensifying with every passing melody and hook. Not only musically but also through the Dave Gahan like vocals of Green, there is no escaping the Depeche Mode essences flirting from within the melancholic yet vibrant landscape the song. It is a transfixing spice embraced by the expressive and evocative imagination of The Department.

The potent start to the album is straight away reinforced by both Take My Hand and Glass Houses, the first of the two opening with chilled synthesiser minimalism reminding of The Normal. Its industrial lilt leads to broader endeavour and a breath of early Human League to tempt the imagination, and if you had to pick any general if loose reference to describe Alpha, the late seventies era of the Sheffield band alongside Fad Gadget would be our choices. The song itself is a wonderfully small yet again busily lively encounter, sparking in ears and the imagination with its gentle revelry whilst its successor provides a more anthemic pulsing and melodic catchiness which offers hints of the synth pop days of Al Jourgensen and Ministry. It too remains a restrained and reserved romp of energy yet has plenty to urge feet into action, and at barely two and a half minutes long, is one sublime slice of synth pop.

16470_584444331690660_2953593570011598044_n  Come Inside has a great steely twang to its opening rhythms and opening hook, their union making for a compelling lead into another minimalist terrain as pungent and provocative as any full-blooded sonic rampage. Infection loaded, a given with every track upon Alpha, the song has a swing to its body and energy to its melodies which is almost Heaven 17 like, a whisper backed by the equally catchy essence of Green’s vocals.

The album’s debut single As If Transformed comes next, a captivation of cyber drama driven by effect wrapped vocals, sonic niggling, and a fuzzy bluster of electro wind around an endearing weave of melodies. The repetitive nature of lyrics and sound only adds to the theatre and shadowed heart of the encounter, an emotional edge which definitely has a Frank Tovey like exploration to them. Its dark fascination is mesmeric but instantly outshone by the tenacious beauty and vibrancy of Days Of Liberty, a song on an addictive rhythmic march whilst draped in just as irresistible and vivacious melodic radiance. It is pure addiction with NEXT SINGLE all over it.

Through the cooler air and emotion of Not For You and the wonderfully sinister seduction of Skin Vultures, the album’s magnetism is only compounded. The first of the pair provides a mellower tone and smoother flow to its presence compared to the previous song, with synths gliding over the senses as the baser elements of the track pulsate with heavy emotion and suggestiveness matched by Green’s equally expressive tones. The second of the two is seeded with a Fad Gadget like provocative drama, every slither of electronic bait and melodic entangling of ears, offering new avenues of reflective and emotive exploration. It is a dark caress of a song but again magnetically loaded with bewitching echoes and touches of warmth and captivating light.

The enchanting beauty and shadowed emotion of Slow Down keep thoughts and emotions gripped next, its elegant sonic poetry followed by the just as finely textured and enthralling Let It Go. It too opens its heart with a merger of light and dark, continuing the personal and musical intimacy which veins the whole album and arguably finds the most dramatic and traumatic depths within The Waiting Room. There is a thick Martin Gore feel to the songwriting and voice of the song; it’s haunted dark tones a seemingly volatile yet firmly bound incitement within the inescapable threads of melodic temptation lighting the gripping encounter. The track is gorgeous, a croon come dark serenade earning its place as the pinnacle of the album and as the most immersive and incendiary proposal for ears and imagination.

Even The Sun offers a potent and pleasing encounter next, though after the last song it is a paler incitement through no real fault of its own. It still feeds appetite and satisfaction nicely before The Gothenburg Reprise Remix of As If Transformed brings the album to a close. Anticipation for Alpha from fans has been eager and no one has been left short in pleasure and enjoyment by the outstanding release. The Department had some big expectations to live up to but they surpassed those with ease whilst giving us all a very welcome dose of nostalgia.

Alpha is available from March 27th via Hard Cell Records, digitally and on CD @ https://hardcellrecords.bandcamp.com/releases

http://www.thedepartment-official.com/   https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Department/248106308657799

RingMaster 26/03/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard on Reputation Radio @ http://reputationradio.yooco.org/