Tag Archive for 'synth'

The Whip – “X Marks Destination”

The Whip

It can’t already be time for a baggie revival, can it?

In 1989 Britain was raving mad, deserting the clubs for the countryside to dance the night away to DJs spinning the latest synth and sampler generated sounds. Doomsayers began predicting the death not only of rock, but of live music entirely. And it was precisely at that moment that a clutch of bands galloped to the rescue. Hailing from Manchester, and led by The Stone Roses and Happy Mondays, they unleashed their weapons of swirling atmospheres, blurred guitars and irrepressible dance rhythms, a perfect blend of pop-rock and acid house, saving their nation from a total techno takeover.

Fast forward 21 years and meet The Whip, a band that could only have emerged from Manchester itself. “I wanna be trash,” Bruce Carter ever more adamantly pleads on X Marks Destination’s opening track, “Trash,” a reiterated lyric that instantly evokes The Stone Roses’ “I Wanna Be Adored.” In truth, “Trash” bears little more resemblance to that dreamy, yearning, psychedelic rinsed classic, other than its equally memorable; “Adored” on steroids, with a compulsive, driving rhythm, a shadowy, almost threatening ambience, and a jubilant keyboard melody that bounces gaily over the pounding beats and bass, and jittery post-punk guitar.

So, The Whip are definitely not your parents’ baggy, although, like their predecessors, they’ve hung out at the electronica clubs, they’re not under the spell of acid house, preferring a straight-forward techno. They’ve obviously also spent their time immersing themselves in their parents’ collection of post-punk and early new wave records. Collide their influences, and the result is a thoroughly unique retro dance band.

“Fire” is further proof of their inspired cross-over sound, built around a muscular bass, adamant beats, and splodgy keyboards, which combine to conjure up early ’90s techno, while futuristic synths and a strong post-punk melody tie it all together. The instrumental “Divebomb” features even splodgier keys, a funky aura, and a combative rhythm, techno spilling towards trance, but with the ferocious feel of punk underlying it all.

“Blackout” slams around post-punk territory, but its rhythm is entirely club beat driven. In contrast, “Save My Soul” swirls into the shadows of dark dance, albeit a gloomy realm lit by delicate new romantic touches. “Muzzle #1″ beautifully combines both genres, the aura is threatening coalescing around an aggressive bass line, splatters of sinister surf guitar, and a rhythm that never lets up.  A song perfectly poised between post-punk and dark dance, but with a rhythm that is far more powerful than both.

Elsewhere, The Whip flick around synth-pop, explore a variety of early electronica styles, pay tribute to both Depeche Mode and New Order, wade deeper into the new wave, and conjure up more than flamboyance and glory of the New Romantics. There’s myriad retro and synth-pop-dance bands on the scene today, but The Whip beat them all at their resurrection game. They revisit the past, but The Whip succeeds at creating a sound that’s entirely fresh and new. Amazingly, Destination is the band’s debut, but they already boast the assurance and self-confidence of a band twice their age. The baggie revival begins here.

[By: Jo-Ann Greene]

Rating: 5/5

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Master Slash Slave – “Scandal” 12″ vinyl

Master Slash Slave

The two members in Master Slash Slave must have grown up in the ’80s; that or they really, really love “Zelda.” Ushering in what can only be described as the Nintendo-core sound, the group combines programmed beats, live drumming and guitar with an array of synthesizers all heavily influenced by the “training interlude” music in “Mike Tyson’s Punch Out.” Add a Brandon Flowers-esque vocal quality to the mix and you have yourself one interesting band.

Master Slash Slave describes itself as sounding like “the White Stripes and Kraftwerk arguing with Interpol over what to wear.” While there is little doubt as to the Kraftwerk influence, the jury’s out on whether the other bands mentioned in the musical equation actually fit. The Killers and Devo arguing over who gets to score the next “Tron” soundtrack with Kraftwerk would make much more sense.

If you’re starting to get the impression that this band is a little weird, you’re right. In fact, some of the tracks on Scandal would blend in nicely with the loops found on DJ battle records.

Not all the tracks, however, sound like they could be featured in an upcoming Mix Master Mike album. With “Slummin,” the driving force of the song is no longer synthesizers but dance-tastic, double-time hi-hat action. Take away the analog vibe and the band starts to sound a bit like “Bows + Arrows”-era Walkmen. Master Slash Slave, however, wouldn’t be Master Slash Slave without some tweaking of the keyboard. Midway through the song, the band layers bright synthesizer tones over the traditional instrumentation, giving the song a futuristic “Super Mario Bros.” sound (not a castle level, though). The resulting effect gives the track a mash-up feel and goes to show that not all synth-heavy groups end up sounding like the Revenge of the Nerds band.

The duo also shows some variation on “High Heels.” Although the keyboards are still firmly in place, the only other accompaniment is an acoustic guitar and the vocals of Matt Jones. The track doesn’t really seem to flow with the rest of the album, but the song sounds good, and it’s definitely something different.

Long story short: if Capcom is looking to give the Mega Man soundtrack an indie rock edge, then Master Slash Slave is the band to do it. [By: Jake Corbin]

Rating: 3/5

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