CD: Diagrams – Black Light | New music reviews, news & interviews
CD: Diagrams – Black Light
Electro experimentalist comes up with some new angles
The term "folktronica" always makes me think of that horror-porn abomination The Human Centipede. Two entities being joined together in a way that they should never be joined together. Finger-in-your-ear choral harmonies and groovy basslines? It should not work but it often does. Audacious outfit Tunng regularly cocked a snook at received boundaries and pulled off this unholy alliance with flying colours, so perhaps it is no surprise that frontman/founder Sam Genders repeats the trick with the debut release of his latest outfit, Diagrams. And then some.
Black Light is the kind of album that hooks you with the first listen and then gets better and better the more time you spend with it. Maybe less folk than in the past, but still plenty of tronica. From the angular Wire/Gang of Four-style riffs of "Appetite" to the spectral atmospherics of "Ghost Lit" this is music that feels both scintillatingly boxfresh and in debt to left-field dance-rock's brightest, most inspiring sparks. Genders bends and twists genres to spectacular effect. He even gets away with some noodling prog-rock, occasionally evoking the dreaded flamingo-legged Jethro Tull, while elsewhere the spirit of the Beta Band’s anything-goes alt-hippy philosophy looms large.
The addition of flesh-and-blood instruments, including brass, removes any possibility of this ending up as just another over-programmed bedroom project. There is plenty of heart and humanity here. The crossover electro of Hot Chip’s last album is another touchstone. The mood is celebratory and easy-going and never overpowering. Genders took a break from music to teach in a primary school after leaving Tunng and one cannot imagine him ever losing his temper in class. This is mellow music at its best. "Oh, isn’t this good," Genders whispers softly at one point. I could not have put it better myself.
Watch Diagrams perform "Tall Buildings"
Subscribe to theartsdesk.com
Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 7,000 pieces, we're asking for £2.95 per month or £25 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.
To take an annual subscription now simply click here.
And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?
more New music
After 10 years, rule-breaking risks becoming gentrification for London indie label
Teenage Spanish prodigy makes London debut, ready for the giant footsteps
Irish singer-songerwriter's debut contains rich pickings
Folk-popper turns up the volume for a sell-out tour
Radiohead frontman's second solo LP exudes a mournful electronic loveliness
This celebration of Saharan musicians is more showcase than soul
The voice is thin, the music naff and terrible - but do give us the glitter and sparkle
Perfect harmony: four great singers and players in their own right form a folk supergroup
Californian four-piece tread water in a sea of adolescent power pop
Resurrection of a demonic rock sensation from 1970
The purple one returns, invigorated and very silly
After only nine years' break, the introspective Edinburgh songwriter is back