Total Squaresville by Pattern Language
The tasteful sound of eighties synth pop today
OMD springs to mind on hearing the opening bars of By Time We Get There, and this is a reasonable reference point for the melodic synthesiser work from American producer Chris Frain, aka Pattern Language.
Inspired by the BBC4 documentary Synth Britannia Frain's career path altered when he decided to pursue his burgeoning love of electronic music, having previously played bass guitar in various indie-pop bands; his appreciation for the Minimoog and Melotron taking hold. So what we have with Total Squaresville is the sound of a man finding his feet, experimenting with song structures, immersed in childhood influences.
Composed of six instrumental tracks, the mini-album owes a small debt to Kraftwerk, with its motorik-beat rhythms and catchy melodies, although at times it could sound like any of your favourite synth bands from the Krautrock-era through to The Art of Noise to recent Letter favs Survive. His approach:
Each one of the pieces on this album was started from some very basic idea about sound or structure or primary influence, and yet I was surprised by all the twists and turns they took through the stages of composition, recording, and mixing
While the music sounds simple in construction, with drums and two or three synth lines forming the basis of each track, the titles bring added depth (The Castellers for example: human tower or British Rock 'n' Roll band?). Squaresville is undoubtedly the highlight with its melancholic hook, in what is generally a very pleasant listen. Something feels amiss though? A missing element... lyrics perhaps?
8/10 after 20 listens
Out today via London’s Happy Robots Records.