Sitting in the office as hail taps the window and the first official winter storm approaches... there's a second sweeter tapping.. I'm drawn towards clockwork sounds of tin-like knocks against the ear. Not in any bad or indifferent or disturbing way but one of musical recognition. It's that classic tinkly-bonk of alternative synth-pop that flows gently from the speakers. I'm acutely aware of the sounds... and it takes me back some years.
The album in question is Ephemeral and the author of this eclectic mix is Richey Hackett. One of those collections of tracks that reflect a composer who has many strings to his bow...and a willingness to lay bare for examination all that he has to offer. And this he does... in the most honest and remarkable way. Herein lies a veritable pick and mix of alternative synth-pop and quirky electronica that ebbs and flows gently from genre to genre via some trippy themes and never fails to surprise.
The album opens with Deep Empty Reflex.. a track straight out of the Bowie library... it stands as a flag barer to the compositions that follow. I'm thinking at this point that I know what I'm about to experience but no... each track hereafter pulls me to another theme, another sub-genre... but kind of always glued together by a common thread. Something I cannot quite find the words to adequately describe but musically instantly recognisable as a constant, a link that works, fits snuggly.
Track 2 slides into view... The Ambulance: I'm thinking here we go again with a new direction. It speaks in tongues of latter day Talking Heads... kind of crazy, a juxtaposition of beats and bleeps of synthy delight. For some strange reason I'm reminded of the Butthole Surfers and of Zappa. The themes change so fast it's hard to comprehend how much thought and effort has been injected into this album.... deliberate or happy chance? Who knows and really... who cares!? It works.
Teutonic soundscapes of classic Krautrock, stillness and calm.... ambience and then bounced back in to robotic anthems and what can only be described as Industrial-Lite. The Severance is so very Human League in its construction and becomes almost mechanical in that respect.... you anticipate the next stanza. Old Growth draws the album to a close. Ambient and industrial sounds break into a darker more riff orientated rock composition which again surprises the listener and lulls one into another sense of false security. A clever devise that works throughout the album.
So what of this? I guess perhaps you have to feed it slowly to the brain... Track by track. Too much to handle in one sitting. A chocolate box of flavoured delights designed to satisfy your every desire. A very enjoyable journey through a musical exhibition. Everything from electronic indie pop via dancey Slimelight industrial themes to the comfortable soft landings of ambience and atmospheric muses. I like this.... drip fed in the darkness, served with a dash of melancholy.
It's not necessarily mean and punchy... more a hand held trip through the wires, a celebration of the sub-genre, a quirky mix of alternative synth-pop that flows gently in a way.... a way that is... Ephemeral.
by Stuart Turnbull