I have recently fallen in love with two exceptional electronic pop LPs. One is old – almost as old as me – and the other is brand, spanking new. Both are remarkable, beautiful creations, both are made by collections of odd, obsessive men and both are fine examples of how music made with computers doesn’t have to be cold and impersonal.
The first of these LPs is The Man Machine by Kraftwerk. Given that this was released in 1978 and I am a big fan of electronic music, you’d think I’d already have this LP, or at least have heard it. However, aside from The Robots and The Model, I’d remained blissfully ignorant of its existence for 34 years until I finally picked up a copy on vinyl a couple weeks ago. Despite it’s deliberately minimal, stylised feel it’s wonderfully warm and almost whimsical (especially Neon Lights), while the arch humour of The Model, delivered in wonderfully clipped, German-accented English, is a joy.
Technologically speaking, it was amazingly ahead of its time. The production is crisp and there is none of the shonkiness you’d expect, given the primitive equipment and software that must have been used to record it. Much of it must have been played live or looped using non-digital means. The mind boggles!
The second LP which has been getting a battering on the Lofthouse hi-fi is the new Hot Chip album, In Our Heads. We bought it on vinyl because it was a lovely heavy-weight pressing and it sounds absolutely fantastic. I have always rather liked Hot Chip’s singles, but been somewhat ambivalent towards their previous LPs, but their latest single Night and Day was arresting enough to give the whole LP a go and it doesn’t disappoint. Each listen bring a new track to my attention as I notice little noises, melodies, lyrics, drum sounds and samples. When your favourite track on an LP changes regularly, you know you’ve come across a classic!
For those of you who don’t know Hot Chip they make electronic music, but without the emphasis on sequencers and loops, preferring to play the music live. This means that they have much in common with bands like New Order (as evidenced by the very New-Ordery opener Motion Sickness) but there are all sorts of other influences in the mix – Night and Day recalls Bassment Jaxx in their pomp and the drums on Let Me Be Him sound like early detroit techno until the melody rushes in and it goes all Screamadelica. Simply wonderful.
So, a classic LP and an early contender for the best LP of this year… all in all, it has been a great couple of weeks.