The very simple structure of this final song on Solvent‘s 2004 backwards-looking Ghostly International release “Apples + Synthesizers” propels the listener toward a place more uneasy than that occupied by the rest of the poppy, happy, or wistful tracks on the record. It contrasts strongly “My Radio”, the much-remixed lament for the dear departed radio of Solvent alter ego Jason Amm’s past that first brought the artist to my attention.
At the heart of “Think like Us” is the dark and untempered monomania of a post-Depeche Mode Alan Wilder. Wilder lacked the benefit of group input on his subsequent Recoil releases, but his fat synthetics were the filter-envelope modulated repetitive backbones of the best late ’80s-early ’90s DM work.
Amm’s use of the vocoder has a modulated, hands-on-the-knobs style and sound that is specifically his own, but his choice of a thin-sounding synthetic drum kit, as well as the very krauty use of them on one or two lead-up tracks, leads one to believe that his approach is informed in large part by Kraftwerk. This is not to say there was any way not to have been influenced by Kraftwerk working in this genre of music.
I should make one disambiguation: There is nothing whatever thin about the kick drum on this track.
In from the other room collects and coalesces the apparition of The Black Dog’s ghostly tunings, possessing the Saturday morning air in my everyday apartment. Spinning on the magnetic discs is their most recent full-length, Radio Scarecrow, ownership and first-hand enjoyment of which I secured through the top-notch Bleep digital music store. Short, very short historical notes on the Black Dog entity:
Formed in 1989 by Ken Downie, Ed Handley, and Andy Turner, (the latter two leaving to form the ever-noodley and atmospheric Plaid).
Currently a solo effort on the part of Ken Downie.
This is a work of beautiful, very deep production. Sharing this passion for the haunting of 3-dimensional aural spaces with Plaid, The Black Dog delivers a very synthetic set of melodies minimally framed by a post-rave aesthetic that still sounds pleasingly and eerily natural. All the various wind-up monsters of sequenced repetition or LFO modulated pulses roaming the scales of this songlist in their terrific chrome and black matte definition, even at the full distance of hearing’s horizon, seem to do so obfuscated in a shadowy and endless nighted wood. It is seeing with the ear magic and clockwork in a land of tin wendigos.
Normally I wouldn’t just take to promoting electronic music that so flagrantly espouses the combination of nudity and polygamy in in a primeval environs, but for this set of glitch-influenced, hip-hop sprinkled, Boards of Canada-indebted (for cover art and in part for style) platter of unflinchingly digital oscillators with a taste of ye olde industrial gait, I will make an exception.