Laugh Clown Laugh / Play :: Double review (Medical)

It is releases like Laugh Clown Laugh and Play which have made Troy Wadsworth’s imprint the respected global label it has become.

Medical Records is already building up an impressive head of steam. 2013 has already been the Seattle imprint’s most productive year, and its only just October. Collaborating with the excellent Crispy Nuggets blogspot, Medical introduces even more synthesizer goodness for those hungry for more.

Laugh Clown Laugh are the duo of Sam Findlay and Dominic O’Brien. This seriously obscure Somerset outfit only ever released one track, a compilation piece back in 1984. Despite their lack of output the twosome did make a number of tracks. Armed with early electronic music equipment this pair etched out their own brand of analogue wave. A chirpy, warm and undeniably British, sound immediately pours from the record. “Feel So Young” is reclaimed richness, machine plinks coupled with catchy lyrics. The tracks are innocently D.I.Y. but have a real musicality, the heartbreak of “Tattoo” or the sorrow of “This Side of Heaven.” The album hums with that early energy of the analogue age, a sense of electronic experimentation and youthful artistry. “Track 14” is an instrumental work that takes cosmic moments and filters them through minimal channels. The tracks are fiendishly short, most flirting with the three minute mark. But their brevity allows for a concentration of both sound and emotion, as in the wrenching “Aquarium.” There is an overarching enthusiasm dominating the LP, the same eagerness and exuberance that characterized the Wave scene of the early 80s.

Troy Wadsworth is returning to Survival Records, earlier in the year re-issuing Survival veterans like Drinking Electricity. This time the Seattle imprint is turning to the twosome of Wayne Kennedy and David Rome, aka Play. Rome was behind much of the guitar work of Drinking Electricity and also worked with the late Martin Lloyd as Analysis, the group later growing in Oppenheimer Analysis. Play cross the divide between Minimal Synth and Post Punk, immediately calling to mind the likes of Camera Obscura. Play’s sound is one of measured analogue pop, one with a rousing passion and coursing quality. “Erase the Memory” is classic string influenced Synth Pop. “This Little Girl” shadows lamenting vocals with thick strings and backing chords. “You Don’t Look The Same” is of that golden New Wave vein. Depeche Mode and The Cure are precursors to this addictive piece. There’s quite a radio play quality to Play’s style, at times I’m almost waiting for news and weather updates circa ’83. “In My Mind” pours forth with an Summer cheer, clever lyrics clasped to weaving notes.  “Chasing the Sun” rasps into being with sharp machine snares and lilting bars. The track is one of the stand-out pieces on the album. A piece that almost borders on Industrial as vocals are used as a breathy ballast for those thick keys.

It is releases like Laugh Clown Laugh and Play which have made Troy Wadsworth’s imprint the respected global label it has become. During the Summer I saw Medical releases in small English towns and just recently in two different stores in Madrid. The label’s ability to catch the imagination, and ear, of Synth Wave lovers is uncanny. Two top notch LPs to further embolden the Seattle label.

Red Movies and Laugh Clown Laugh are both available on Medical.

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