Our Present to the Future
Something In Construction
his is a group that plays it pretty close to the vest, but if you poke around 69corp's website with enough diligence eventually you will unearth the fact that 6 and 9 (as they are known) used to be members of the not-terribly lamented Geneva (if you’re not acquainted, they were usually compared to James and Suede). I mention this not to disparage their present work, but because when you read that press clipping suddenly Our Present to the Future makes a lot more sense. The pre-album single "Demonseed" was all loping beat, looped horror-movie violins and sinister mutter, clearly formed out of a different idiom than rock and aimed at the dance floor as a few of the other tracks here are. Some of the results, particularly “Demonseed” itself and the almost Balearic “Messin’ With Blissy,” are pretty successful. So far so simple.
But what's surprising after hearing "Demonseed" and the brief, blippy opener "A Six In Time...", is that the bulk of the album is actually composed of machine assisted lysergic ballads of varying degrees of tenderness complete with verse/chorus/verse. 69corp is actually, it turns out, a kinder, gentler Unkle or Death In Vegas rather than another partnership of faceless dance producers; in other words, electronic music for fans of rock.
That’s a bit harsher than intended—there are a few missteps which given the 69-minute running time should have been excised, but the quality level is generally high. Unlike either Unkle or Death In Vegas Our Present to the Future is strictly in-house, with no celebrity guests. But depending on which member is singing and the song, every song here sounds vaguely like it’s being sung by Gruff Rhys, Bobby Gillespie, or Bernard Sumner. Which is apposite because those bands are like 69corp in one important way: All three are essentially rock bands using the tools of other genres to open up and rejuvenate their sound.
When it works you get the best of both worlds. Although the title track takes its guitar riff straight from New Order’s “Crystal,” the dense swirl of the song turns it into something new. “DBTR” is a hazy, impossible fragile reverie because of the thick layers of sound and echo applied, not in spite of them. “Asteroids” sounds like Unkle’s “Panic Attack” submerged in narcotics, and even though “Trapped In The Time Being” sounds a bit too close to SFA on the verses, the sparkling chorus temporarily erases all comparisons.
As with most hour-plus albums, though, there is plenty to skip. “Nowhere Walking,” “Every Loop Every Lock,” and the otherwise fine “Soda Called” all suffer from length, with too much repetition by the end. “Trust Me, That’s Venus” feels like it was beamed in from another album altogether, and as with most of the other techno tracks doesn’t really cohere with the rock songs. The closing “Only Time,” although listed on the back, is preceded by seven minutes of silence, which is baffling and even more annoying than when songs end with that sort of gap.
It’s telling that 69corp’s album, much like Unkle’s and Death In Vegas’, is a mixed bag. All three acts are caught between trying to juggle different genres and trying to synthesize them into something new, and all contribute to the slow, unsteady process of two genres feeling each other out and cross-pollinating. It’s not necessary that 69corp choose either the dance floor or the living room stereo to be successful, and they may even be looked back at some day as pioneers, but for now this is that rare sort of record where almost anyone will find stuff to both love and hate.
Reviewed by: Ian Mathers
Reviewed on: 2005-04-18