Tuesday, 21 February 2012

WeirdGear - Aurora review

On first hearing “Aurora” and glancing briefly through the press release there are a number of influences and emotions that become apparent. Compared, not unreasonably, to early Human League and Depeche Mode, as well as more predictable comparisons to Kraftwerk, Formed in 1994 WeirdGear are a live analogue synthesiser trio from Essex, featuring Paul Barlow on bass, synthesisers and vocals, Lee Maher on drums, synthesisers and vocals and Paul Wolfe on drums, effects and soundscapes.

From the opening phrases of “Heat of the Middaysun” there is a palpable sense of nostalgia for a time when purely electronic driven music was in its infancy, and spoke to a generation of people of a promising future in the way music could be conceived and performed. Simple lines of pure electricity weave in and around the vocal lines, and the ominous repetition which featured so heavily in those early pioneering pieces, compliments these tunes, rather than detracting from their eccentricity. The heavily distorted voice, as used on “Coffee Girl”, and so reminiscent of a time when the technique was widely used, is totally apposite to the overall mood. “Game”, “Germs”, “Osaka Knights” and “Holding On” are reminiscent of murky, cloudy “alternative” discos of the early to mid 1980’s. yet are danceable in their own right in a contemporary setting. Whereas tracks such as “Wals” and “Rocket Ranger” bring to mind ghostly images and memories of mid 1970’s music for schools programmes or low budget science fiction television. The use of analogue equipment throughout gives the album a warmth and humanity which can often be sadly lacking in an era of digitally encoded sound.

In his 1993 work “Spectres of Marx” Jacques Derrida described a philosophy of history he referred to as hauntology, which suggested the present exists only with respect to the ghosts of the past. Aurora essentially bears this out in that it is capable of evoking a culture long forgotten by many. It could be argued that music made in this way, however, is retrospective and dependent upon the listener’s nostalgia. At a time in the history of music however, when we have access to a myriad of influences both in terms of culture and time, sounds that are being produced by bands such as WeirdGear are a gentle reminder of how the future of music was once viewed.

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