Aloa / Roladex :: Double review (Medical)

The new year is here. Resolutions bandied about, liked and retweeted. But some old habits can be hard to break, and others shouldn’t be. Medical Records is keeping an old habit alive, that of double releases; and few would say there’s anything wrong with that.

aloa_roladex_dbl_featAloa were the German duo of Al Kanz and Matthias Brendel, a twosome who released one record in ’82. The group come from the annals NDW. Armed with machinery like the 606, 808 and Prophet 5 The German twosome carved out their own unique sound. Styles melt. Mechanical Electro is paralleled by slow motion tribalism. “Traumfrau” sees synth chords soar into the stratosphere while “Deutsche Begegung” blurs lines with metronomic clicks meeting angst riddled lyrics. As with all NDW there is that touch of the absurd to Aloa, tracks like “Banane Zitrone” bordering on angular cool and out-there lunacy. The duo is next to impossible to pin down. “Du Machst Es Mir Schwer” is a work of weirded-out Krautrock whereas “Fremdes Haus” is burgeoning synth pop. Genres are jumped, the partnership splicing styles whilst forging their own. The self-made quality of Aloa’s sound is unmistakable, their innocence is matched by their willingness to experiment. Heartfelt moments arise in tracks like “Hostessendienst” but it is an overarching D.I.Y. chic that characterises the LP.

Troy Wadsworth is also continuing his exploration of contemporary sounds, this time with Roladex’s debut LP: Anthems For The Micro-Age. Roladex have been releasing since last year, clocking up three outings on imprints like Night People and Beko. The group of Tyler Jacobsen and Elyssa Dianne formed in Texas and their electronic inspirations are evident from the LPs outset. Movie soundtracks from the 80s, the New Wave scene and of course Kraftwerk are all pertinent influences. The machine sounds come straight from a lost act of Thatcher’s Britain; melodic, snapping and wholesomely analogue. But the hazy vocals are tethered to today. At times the playful style of Skanfrom or Bakterille Infektion come to mind; plinks, plonks and pacey drums. Tracks across the LP have a superb musicality, from downtrodden pop laments like “Love Surgery” with its lonesome sorrow to the neon happy stripes of “Colour Channels.” The lyrical content is a litany of change, technological advance and man’s place within it. “Empty Street” echoes with the isolation of John Foxx’ “Underpass” whereas “Single Cell City” explores more contemporary biological issues. “Nuke It Out” closes, and revives the greatest pastiche. Heaven 17’s “Let’s All Make A Bomb” was one of the first tracks to explore the issues of the nuclear age with a synthesizer. Roladex close, some thirty years after the Sheffield group, with modern analogue worries of atomic winter.

There isn’t much of a connection between Aloa and Roladex, bar the latter taking their cue from contemporaries of the former. Nonetheless, both have a free-wheeling spirit. Aloa adhere to almost nothing, proudly dancing across genre tags. Roladex are part of the new wave of…New Wave, analogue rich and melancholic. Two groups mapping the evolution of that early 80s music project.

Aloa and Anthems For The Micro-Age are available on Medical.

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