There are lots of new releases to please techno fans this month! M83 offers an ambient project called Digital Shades Vol. 1 on Mute Records which makes for great background music. The disc is rife with warm sonic washes of synthesizer and the occasional breathy vocal. In some ways, it's like incidental scene music to the quiet parts of a science fiction movie. For more information, check the group's site at www.ilovem83.com.

 

Blaqk AudioBlaqk Audio
Cexcells
(Interscope)
½


Blaqk Audio is the side project of AFI's Jade Puget and Davey Havok, and for fans of both AFI, Depeche Mode, and electronic danceable pop, it's a must-hear.

The disc opens with “Stiff Kittens” which, with its echoing piano hook and throbbing bassline sounds like it was lifted from “Personal Jesus.” Later, with the piano-drum opening of “Where Would You Like Them Left?” they seem to be channeling “Strangelove” era Mode before slipping into a sexy pop chorus that might make gloom-Mode fans choke just a bit (“strip for me as I strip for you/we've got nothing to hide/and we've got less to lose” Havok sings).

While there's a lot of Depeche Mode influence here (which is helped by having Mode-collaborator Dave Bascombe at the mixing board) Blaqk Audio doesn't seem to know quite where it wants to come down in the synth-pop spectrum.

While much of the first half of the disc has a moody gothy vibe to it, the second half starts to sound more bubblegum-oriented, with that sugary technopop hitting full force in tracks like “Semiotic Love” and the driving gallop of “Again, Again and Again,” which sound like a summit between The Lovemakers, Neuropa and Intuition.

Focus problems aside, for fans of hook-laden synth pop, there's bound to be something here you'll want to add to your iPod songlist of the week.

For more information check www.blaqkaudio.com.

 

FreezepopFreezepop
Future Future Future Perfect
(Cordless/Rykodisc)


Freezepop is a techno trio from Boston that features the offhandedly cool vocals of Liz Enthusiasm. While some techno acts make their sound by merging dark or soulful vocalists with electronic soundscapes, Freezepop takes the cue of Kraftwerk and play up the metronomic aspect of techno music, with Enthusiasm singing in very clipped, emotionless sylables much of the time. Ironically, this makes these songs astonishingly catchy – and has also led to their tracks being used in videogames like Frequency and Amplitude.

The band's third full-length disc opens with a call to the dancefloor in the building fun of “Less Talk More Rokk” (which also appears in the music video game Guitar Hero II) before slipping into the no apologies “Pop Music Is Not A Crime” and the unashamedly silly “Ninja of Love.” All of these tracks are reminiscient of another indie synth-pop band, I Am The World Trade Center.

With the more layered and plaintive vocals of “Frontload” and “Swimming Pool” and the gender politics of “Do You Like Boys?” the band sounds a bit more like English techno-popsters Client, while the lush effects of “Thought Balloon” almost call to mind Enya with a better beat.

In the end, Future Future Future Perfect is a gem of an electro disc that is the equivalent of rock candy to retro synthesizer music lovers. Don't miss this great dose of bleeping pop!

For more information, check their website at www.freezepop.com.