Ubre Blanca Terminal Island EP (4 stars)

Ubre Blanca

An brilliantly unsettling adventure both escapist and inescapable from electronic synth duo

(Clan Destine)

Oh Don Johnson, so much to answer for.

Somewhere in the past two decades, the mulleted heart-throb’s 80s cop frolic Miami Vice has become shorthand for fast cars, Martini Girls, neon cocktails, rolled-up jacket sleeves, Reagan’s America, bronzed limbs, palm trees and – not least – the shimmering, synth-tastic realms of Jan Hammer et al.

Miami Vice has proved to be a bizarrely resilient reference point in popular culture, and its aesthetic continues to make waves in the underground, too. It’s hard to imagine hypnagogic pop’s lo-fi dynamos (James Ferraro, Ducktails, Oneohtrix Point Never) without their DIY (re)-imaginings of Miami Vice’s tropical horizons and brawny fluoro imagery. And so too is it hard not to reference the high-octane escapades of Johnson’s buff Lothario, James ‘Sonny’ Crockett, when admiring this luminous second EP from local electro-druids Ubre Blanca.

You might argue, of course, that a 30-year-old TV show about badass japes on Miami’s South Beach bears no relation to a subterranean Glasgow duo whose lineage straddles Shitdisco, DIVORCE and Remember Remember – and whose righteous command of shit-hot percussion (Andy Brown) and incendiary synths / guitars (Joel Stone) is often enshrouded in 70s horror vibes. But that would be to overlook their driving, gleaming soundtracks; their Vangelis / Jan Hammer-esque synth melodramas; their blinding invocations of Cerrone’s space disco and Exit-era Tangerine Dream; their self-proclaimed wish, on this very EP, ‘to encapsulate venetian blinds, drug lords and the hot Miami heat of Reagan’s America’.

The EP is fittingly titled Terminal Island, which reads like a sci-fi 80s paradise gone awry; at once both escapist and inescapable. It builds on the audio-visual topography mapped out on last year’s excellent Polygon Mountain, and the new EP’s track names follow suit, charting an unsettling adventure – ‘Escape From Terminal Island’, ‘Red Skies’, ‘Muscles and Jungle’, ‘World on a Wire’ – that variously conjures Triffids, beefcakes, Mars and the apocalypse. Even the fearless Crockett would balk at that.

Ubre Blanca’s Terminal Island EP is out now via Clan Destine Records. They play Edinburgh Banshee Labyrinth (with Happy Meals and Apostille) on November 22 and Glasgow School of Art on November 27 (with Clip Art and The Orpheus Choir).

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