Altres & The Product :: Double review (Dark Entries)

With the festive session in our midst it’s time to consume. Food. Drink. Maybe even some new music. Dark Entries have sorted out your next synthesizer stocking stuffer with some abstract analogue art.

Dundee, Scotland, is not known for much. The Timex industrial dispute in the 90s. Tay Bridge. Mediocre football sides and of course the cake that bears the city’s name. The North Eastern town was the unlikely birthplace of Altres, a five man synthesizer outfit. With a myriad analogue equipment this Scottish outfit created their own brand of electronic music in the early 80s. “Everything Is” opens with a warm analogue flurry of sounds. Melodic and timeless, the track is a wonderful example of the musical quality endemic to early electronics. The LP builds from this excellent starting point, Altres serve up beautifully complex pieces such as “Panic” and “Icefield.” “Rise” sounds simply modern. It has the warmth of Bochum Welt mixed with the arching synths of Steve Moore. Breathtaking. “La Marche Futile” takes the chords of Jan Hammer and stretches them with drum machine clips and a lilting harmony. “Ghosts” sees darker notes endear before the noodling arpeggios of “Strangely Coloured Trees at Night” closes. The album was literally thirty years ahead of its time. Stunning. [Release page]

The Product come from a different place. The group exude cold wave, blackened synthesizer angst from the outset. “Everywhere, Here, Nowhere” sees a slow machine beat punctuate anguished lyrics and bleak reverb. The tempo is raised for “Drowning.” Coils of mechanical sound are coupled with distanced lyrics for a track of desperation and despair. “Almost Afraid” slows the beats. Melodies are tortured into strung out synths whilst lyrics ache with pain. The Product come from the traditions of The Human League and John Foxx, but the energy is reduced into a latent malaise. “When He Was Sleeping” is a stunning piece of beatless synthesizer music. Classical sounds warmed through oscillators to produce something truly special. “The Killing Pain” depicts a dark and dreamless life and “This Life” amplifies the agony. The album closes with the ashen skies it opened with. Eclipsed souls are drowned in sighs and grief by “Alive Again.” [Release page]

Once again, Dark Entries have plunged into the obscure and resurfaced with two pearls. Altres are one of the greatest synthesizer groups that never made it. Their sounds are rich and intoxicating. The Product come from a different angle, a downtrodden and disaffected sound from a disenfranchised time.

Both releases are available on Dark Entries.


The Product

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