What we're listening to
A Synthetic History of E.M.A.K. 1982-88
This banana-yellow retrospective comp devoted to a small collective-group of electronic musicians in Cologne, Germany offers a number of John Carpenter-like pleasures. E.M.A.K. member Kurt Mill provides two of the best. The vaguely sinister bass line, otherworldly organ, and synth stabs of "Bote des Herbstes" would fit in perfectly alongside tracks from Carpenter's soundtrack for Christine (1983), and "Filmmusik" has a dancefloor as well as cinematic appeal. A fun document of a time when sampling was being invented and Commodore 64s were making music.
THE FRESH & ONLYS
Play It Strange
(In the Red)
A half-dozen or so listens in, this is shaping up to be the best album by SF's Fresh & Onlys to date, thanks in part to its widescreen production (the album was recorded by Tim Green). With its Duane Eddy twang, ghost harmonies, propulsive rhythms, and dovetail lyric about bickering between dying forms of media, "Waterfall" is as terrific as it is catchy. I kinda wish the group would slow down the tempo from time to time for more variety, particularly because they seem more than capable of pulling off a big ballad. But not many groups can evoke both Morrissey and late-period Damned while sounding like themselves, and "I'm All Shook Up" offers exactly the kind of irresistible classic rock 'n' roll its title promises.
The Nightmare of J B Stanislaus