fri 31/10/2014

CD: Soft Metals - Lenses | New music reviews, news & interviews

CD: Soft Metals - Lenses

Desolate and diffuse but frequently seductive electronics from Los Angeles-based duo

Soft Metals’s ‘Lenses’: plays as though born in a lab

A disembodied, wispy female voice declares “this is not true”, the only emotion left a resignation so acute she may as well be contemplating her imminent demise. On Soft Metals’ “Tell me”, her deliberation is accompanied by electronic music drawing from the pulse Giorgio Moroder created for Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love”, 20 Jazz Funk Greats-era Throbbing Gristle, French cold wave and the drifting vapourousness of the early Orb. On the next track, “When I Look Into Your Eyes”, she sighs “we all die”.

Patricia Hall and Ian Hicks, the Portland-formed and now Los Angeles-based duo who operate as Soft Metals, can’t be accused of being cheery sorts but the atmosphere they create is attractive and enfolds the listener – albeit desolately. Lenses is their second album, the follow-up to 2011’s eponymous debut. Although it's sonically fuller than its predecessor, there are few surprises. They know what they’re doing, and it’s more about mood and texture than actual songs. This means their absorption with what they’ve created can lead to tracks sometimes lacking focus. After initially seeming hypnotic, the album’s techno-styled instrumental closer “Interobserver” meanders just too long to hold the attention.

Although well conceived and frequently seductive, Lenses is – like Hall’s vocals – often too diffuse and plays as though born in a lab. With much of the album hard to grasp onto and the surfeit of female-voiced duos where the male half seemingly handles all the electronics, Soft Metals are going to have a tough time multiplying their audience.

Visit Kieron Tyler’s blog

Watch the video for “Tell Me”, from Soft Metals’s Lenses

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