Total Squaresville

 

Pattern Language is the new project of Chris Frain. Currently based in Boulder, Colorado, Frain was previously keyboard player for the indie-pop band The Giranimals (where he developed a love for the staple sounds of the Minimoog and Melotron instruments) and bassist for the power-prog rock trio Tanuki. In 2013, Frain decided to pursue a solo electronic music career after a chance viewing of the BBC4 documentary “Synth Britannia”, which made him fall back in love with the sound of the synthesizer.

Apart from sounding similar to krautrock legends like Kraftwerk, Cluster, Harmonia, and La Dusseldorf, the tracks found on ‘Total Squaresville’ showcase Frain drawing heavily on influences from his childhood, including The Art of Noise, Eurythmics, Thomas Dolby, and the 1980s iteration of King Crimson. Particularly noteworthy is the use of pre-Roland 808 sounds for the drum machine parts, placing this version of synthwave closer to the late 1970s than the mid-to-late 1980s sound currently dominating this sub-genre.

Tracks like ‘By the Time We Get There’ and ‘Squaresville’ sound like lost Conny Plank projects – complete with simple, direct melodies and motorik-beat rhythms. The Mini-Album’s closer ‘Le Chocs des Etoiles’ (named after the original French title of campy science fiction flop ‘Star Crash’) could easily remind the listener of songs by AIR and Stereolab with its liberal use of Mellotron strings and bongo-heavy percussion. While almost unheard of in popular electronic music, ‘The Castellers’ glides along in 3/4 waltz time, replete with flamenco hand-claps. Electro and space disco-inspired ‘A Pattern Language’, along with the moody minimalist piece ‘Deeply Recessed Windows’, round out the tracklist for this debut release.

Featured on Aural Delights 233

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