Oh, no. It’s that time of year again. You know, the time of year when those ‘Wellington sound’ bands start releasing albums for the summer. Their deep, repetitive bass lines, smooth horns and organic vocals are inescapable, played at every café, barbeque and stereo at the beach.
That’s where Disasteradio comes to the rescue! His latest offering, Visions, is way more fun, party-ready and dance-inducing – which is what a good summer should be all about, right? And, as a child of the 80s, he is indebted to 80s computer games and TV shows – Visions is conceptually based on TV themes. This basically means it’s okay to stay inside, in front of the box – playing Visions in the ad breaks – thereby avoiding the orthodox Wellington sound.
Right from the opening cowbell dings of ‘Awesome Feelings’, the album will give you just that. The 12 track Visions is all about thick, uber-cheesy synths, systematic drum beats and frequent solos, all held together by the consistent upbeat pumping bass line. OTT digital drum cadences, digitalised keys, guitars and vocals dominate the treble, where they range from distorted, echoed, bleeped, glitched or fuzzed out. And, of course, there are computer game sound effects playing against the keys on plenty of the tracks.
In a way, Visions is a homage to the 80s. ’Hotline’ has a computerised American voice and reminds me of my first family computer, which my sister made swear at me. But in other ways, it’s looking towards the future. On ‘Digital Pop’, one of the more structured tracks, Rowell sings about the future of pop. It’s so gleefully upbeat, it would trump any thick ’organic’ roots baseline that Wellington summers are so defined by.
While a few of the tracks sound a bit similar on the first few listens, the more you hear, the better it gets. ‘Marathon’, which could be the victory theme to any 8-bit computer game, sounds like it’s played by an 80s hair-metaller landed with a keytar. battling it out against a 2007 neon-clad synth-playing nu-raver. However, watch out for tracks like ‘Believe in Yourself’ – its forceful stabbing beats and crazy phone-beep sounding solo could lead to dancing a little too hard and result in a much needed swim at Lyall Bay, Wellington’s roots-reggae breeding ground. Wear earplugs.
If you are quite serious about 80s revival and need a ‘summer soundtrack’, go digital! Check out Visions, out through A Low Hum in all decent stores on October 1.