What does it sound like?:
I like my Electronica to have a groove, a narrative arc and a sense of place. Stars colliding in a distant universe generally goes down well with me. Failing that, the fire and ice of Iceland is bound to bring a sense of drama and jeopardy to keep me interested. Imagine my anticipation when I heard that a dance DJ, known only as Tim, was teaming up with a soundtrack composer, Rupert, to create an album in Valgeir Sigurösson’s legendary studio in Reykjavik. All my boxes were ticked.
The cover looks promising. A bleak, dingy block of flats suggests an album of urban dystopia. The song titles offer further clues: Silberblick, Ridges, Everyone Runs, Bad Habits and, most intriguing of all, Southend After Everyone Has Left.
Silberblick starts gently, with a tentative piano figure, until strings sweep in and a rhythm builds, like colic, cranking up the intensity then gradually withdrawing. Hyena has a deep bass motorik rhythm, synthesiser washes and some squelches and squeals. It’s hypnotic but doesn’t make me think of a hyena at all. You Caught Up rattles along at a good pace propelled by a convincing sounding drum kit and a meaty bass. Southend After Everyone Has Left successfully evokes a town where all the fun has been sucked out. My problem is that it reminds me of The Love Theme from Blade Runner with all the sexiness and sense of dread removed. Both Turncoat and Motorbath are smooth Krautrock, the latter with added glistening guitar. Bad Habits consists of Reichian keyboards underpinned by glowering strings. Ridges is all scratchy violin and disjointed percussion. The finale, Everyone Runs, breaks into a sweat and has a welcome cool-down period to close the album.
Mechanism is undoubtedly a quality product, well produced. Their name, Soft Error, hints at a fondness for the random or unexpected but this isn’t apparent in the music. It is well organised and carefully thought through.
It has its pacy moments and its cinematic moods but, in the final analysis, I was too comfortable listening to Mechanism. There wasn’t much to unsettle nor to thrill me. I’d like a little threat and a touch of the ecstatic next time, please. Maybe, throw something random into the mix.
What does it all *mean*?
Sometimes, you can have all the correct ingredients and the perfect recipe but the resultant cake still has something lacking.
Goes well with…
Solitude. The best way to experience Mechanism is under a good pair of headphones with no distractions.
Might suit people who like…