The self-titled Club Soda album gets going into some intense, hyper dance club version of a science fiction synthwave vibes right away with “Goblin Bitch.” Given the possibilities of modern production it’s difficult to say how much of this was produced with older technology but it has the tonal aesthetics of something that would have been made with cheap synths, drum machines and either Acid or some old sequencer and a CasioTone 101. Except that Elijah Jarocki brings a different set of aesthetics to the music than someone would have in the late 90s making use of childhood electronic instruments to create strange pop songs. “Heartbreak City” sounds like a trap song made by Captain Ahab. Ghosts of Herbie Hancock’s “Rock-It” haunt the edges of “Rice Forever” before it goes lo-fi Dirty South early EBM. “Goyle/Soda Alienation ” warps the flow of rhythm in a way that draws you in and provides sonic flashback of one of those beats Aphex Twin buried on the deep web for adventurous and resourceful fans to find. In the end, though, with “You Almost Took Me To The Edge,” Club Soda finishes the album with a triumphant, synthpop banger with vocoder to seal the impression of gloriously abused aesthetics and technology to engage in layered stylistic time traveling to make an album that could have been made 40 years ago or yesterday. Being able to exist in that zone of timelessness for the duration of the album is truly a gift. Listen to Club Soda on Bandcamp where you can also order a copy of the physical media.
“Screaming Banshees” by Oh Mr James is the lead single from the latter’s new EP Primer. At first one hears the urgent breakbeats, alien robotic voices and ambient swells and take into consideration that the project is called Oh Mr James and wonder if that James is Richard D. James of Aphex Twin fame operating under a different moniker as the artist is also from Cornwall and the song wouldn’t be out of step with Aphex Twin’s most recent compositions. Whether that’s true or not, this song doesn’t sound like an omen of death so much as multiple planes of musical ideas working over and with each other in sync. The electronic percussion parallels and reinforces the staccato yet bouncing bass progression sounding like a frantic teletype receiving portentous news. Multiple synths come together throughout the song as the carriers of the melody while background atmospherics are the connective tissue for the song which you come to realize is a bit like the musical model of the functioning of a fast moving animal that races across the earth and arrives at its destination and place of rest at song’s end. Whatever the purpose of the song it takes us on a journey of texture and emotion rich in detail and expertly executed polyrhythms that make it impossible to ignore yet non-invasive enough to stimulate your brain into creative realms of thought. Listen to “Screaming Banshee” on Soundcloud