People Press Play
People Press Play
openhagen-based electronic group People Press Play is but a reshaping of Future 3, who have added vocalist Sara Savery to six of this album’s ten tracks to include a Febrezey vocal element to the already over-oxygenated flatlands and snowy mountains of the album’s chosen arenas. Composing songs that can only be faulted for sounding dreadfully passé, the group can’t forget its forebears. “Girl” is a hands-on tribute to Air, rife with cooing amorous male vocals and fusions of metallic thunderclaps and swirling concoctions of electrified voice and humanized machine. Savery, on “Always Wrong,” suggests some of Imogen Heap’s Frou Frou incantations of fritzing beat with moth-eaten cashmere vocals, a kind of nature video soundtrack recounting the lives of microscopic pond-dwellers and their diaphanous-winged predators.
Fans laterally spanning the intelligent lullaby genre from Sigur Ros to Zero 7 to Efterklang will enjoy snoozing to the scintillating moments of the album’s early tracks as much as the meatier support to “Girl”’s sonic mission statement: the aforementioned “Always Wrong,” and particularly “These Days,” with a predictable but lovely tapestry of rapid heart murmuring from the synth bass and whining analogs in high registers. The instrumental songs are decent, though they try too hard to be a kind of Aphex Twin of the post-millenium, a Squarepusher with disdain for rhythmic structure and a love of melody (even though other critics have faulted this debut for having none of the latter, well, I’ve heard worse).
At the onset, “Hanging On” is a keyboard transposed onto a synth bassline track, which gives way to a backgrounded xylophone puncturing the crisp, stiff metallic atmosphere with softness. This is all bolstered by a soothing electric guitar, which plays like its classical older sibling. The song gets boring, melody-wise, only saved by Savery’s verses, which are minimal but crucial to one’s ability to like the song. As seen on Outputmessage’s debut, PPP belie the experience they have with their equipment, which often yields a commendable attention to detail: Alongside Savery’s accompanists on “Hanging On”—guitar, seeting, zithering drum machine, and xylo—are skittering details in the background, organic, creaturely elements also found in the busy tapestry of “Always Wrong.”
There are tracks in which the voice and atmosphere are given equal weight. On “Before Me,” the same lyrical line is repeated essentially throughout the song, which turns out to be not really that interesting, but begs the question why the group’s three henchmen couldn’t experiment more with turning Savery’s—and their—vocals into another man-made instrument, as those fare well here as simulators of pretty natural environments. This is attempted a little on the opener “Girl,” where voice becomes a moody co-creator, a brisk wind in a tinseled forest, but it would be fascinating to hear voice as percussion in the fashion of Allien and Apparat’s “Do Not Break.” That duo knew the limits of being too leaden, which this group does not, even though they’re happy to half-assedly test the waters of the German pair’s heart-on-sleeve industrialization.
“Studio”’s thrashing, animalistic sound effects and adamant synth bass suggests them, as does “Everything”’s peacemaking alarm-bell digital patterns, slowed down to the electric guitar’s improvisational, lazy-Sunday strums. “Everything,” the exit track, ends up being a perfect complement to the opener—the JMC organ-pipe vocals and breathtaking washes of distorted guitar, bass, and a hint of flute are the response to “Girl”’s call, an old sentiment wizened by the sonic tapestries that preceded it. Atmospheric, and too often insubstantive, this album is flawless in its familiar, surface achievements.