Albums round-up - September 2013
Machinedrum, The Pure Conjecture, The Spook School and A Band Called Quinn reviewed
Machinedrum – Vapor City
(Ninja Tune) ●●●●●
The first full-length Ninja Tune release from LuckyMe alumnus Travis Stewart, Vapor City is apparently based upon dreams he would have about a futuristic city of China Miéville proportions. Despite his forward-thinking style, though, this record often finds itself stepping back into the past of electronic music, from the sparse drum & bass Reprazent-isms of ‘Gunshotta’ and ‘Eyesdontlie’ to the tripped-out ambient house of ‘Don’t 1 2 Lose U’ and ‘Vizion’, and finally the crisp, rhythmic chillwave of ‘U Still Lie’ and ‘Baby It’s U’. It’s a sublime voyage and a feast for the imagination.
Listen to 'Eyesdontlie' on Ninja Tune's SoundCloud page.
The Pure Conjecture – Gendres
Orchestrated by Brighton’s Matt Eaton and performed by musicians drawn from across his city’s scene, this second album by the wonderfully-named The Pure Conjecture (released on Scotland’s Armellodie label) features members of British Sea Power, Electric Soft Parade and Brakes. It sounds like none of the above though, an odd but rarely baffling kneading together of wistful 60s charm (‘Surfin’ Sunset’), Herb Alpert-style bossa nova (‘Mr Tong’), Ben Folds-recalling piano balladry (‘Dictators’) and a touch of Hall & Oates (‘What’s Worse?’).
The Spook School – Dress Up
(Fortuna Pop!) ●●●
They’re clearly just one appearance on a Wes Anderson soundtrack away from becoming stars of the global geek axis, but this debut album from much-fancied Edinburgh indie quartet flatters to deceive in places. There’s something of The Moldy Peaches or The Vaselines about them, a Caledonian collision of bubblegum guitar-pop anthems and lo-fi production. When it clicks – the beat-group study in gender identity ‘Are You Who You Think You Are?’ or the epic ‘Who You Gonna Call? Goat Buster’ – its exuberance is mesmerising.
A Band Called Quinn – Soundtrack from Biding Time (Remix)
(Tromolo Records) ●●●
Louise Quinn’s group was a key part of Edinburgh’s Summerhall programme during the 2011 Fringe and this soundtrack to that multi-media theatrical performance uses Quinn’s smooth, seductive rocker’s croon as the jumping-off point for a slew of genre experiments. For the most part, a grimy, Goldfrappesque electro-pop is deployed on tracks like ‘You Know the Right People’ and ‘Judas’, with busy forays into sparse, autumnal balladry (‘The World Belongs to You’), Garbage-style garage rock (‘Forget About It’) and Lynchian drama (‘Loathsome Road’) cropping up throughout.