Return of the Permanent Wave
Only after a few days of listening to Return of the Permanent Wave and Electro alternately did I realize how much more Wave has going for it. I’m combining their reviews because Electro is one of those albums that is most useful for the way it throws others into relief.
My first reaction to the former compilation was to say I’d have thought there couldn’t ever be such a thing, but someone has finally made a CD with a sound that may be too computerized for even me. Truly these are the times that try men’s souls.
Burn Like Nero’s “Faded Away” gets points for inspirational lyrics (“Time’s an abstraction when you’re with me/ If you love somebody, then set them free),” but doesn’t have much smarts. Lank’s nocturnal “Stress Relief Point” lasts for 12 minutes according to the insert; I’m not sure if it’s an insult or a compliment that I didn’t realize this until now. It’s certainly non-intrusive.
Bernie Lucas’s “No Down” and “Grayscale” sound like Doctor Who soundtracks thrown into a box designed by Kraftwerk. eH FACTOR’s (that’s how they spell it) “Club 33” makes me think they own, not two or three Gary Numan singles on compilations, like any normal person, but at least one entire album.
Egg In Space’s “Say Hello” is exactly the kind of record John Lennon would have made if they had computerized sequencers in 1965, all electronic squeals and blurred vocals. But please note I said it was the kind of record he would have made, not the song he would have written.
A song he did (co-) write, of course, was “Ticket To Ride,” covered to unimpressive effect on Aalacho’s similarly techno-poppy album Electro. I kind of hate to say this because Aalacho founder Nathan Scott lives here in Seattle, his stated influences (OMD, Kraftwerk) are in the right place, and he’s making my kind of records. He’s just not making them terribly well. With the exception of the fine, driving instrumental “Lift,” this is a CD that conjures images of a man sitting behind a laptop playing that funky music white noise. And there are better people at that, a few of whom can be heard on the Silver Plastic Records compilation. True, Return of the Permanent Wave is one of those albums that may challenge your committment to techno-pop or electro. But Electro is an album that won’t challenge you at all.