Old postboxes at Cockatoo Island, Sydney
Elsewhere by Graham Reid

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Wide angle reviews, interviews and opinion by writer Graham Reid

Arcades: Who's Most Lost? (Rattle)

Arcades: Deep Space
Arcades: Who's Most Lost? (Rattle)

Now this album on Rattle has a very interesting pedigree. Mainman behind it is Dugal McKinnon (who wrote the lyrics, and did some of the music and programming with vocalist David Prior,  and played some guitar) is the director of the Lilburn Electroacoustic Music Studio in Wellington . . . and is Dr McKinnon to boot.

So what we have is an art-pop electronic outing (not electronica), and that makes it a first for Rattle Records.

Douglas Lilburn -- the godfather of New Zealand classical music who died in 2001 -- founded New Zealand's first electroacoustic studio in '63 and you suspect he might have approved of this crossover music where electronic undercurrents and bleeps sit in a deliberately uneasy juxtaposition with fuzzed-up bluesy guitar and processed vocals (Emotional Gold), Eno-like ambient pop (You Were Born into This) and strange, squelchy sonic wobbles (Deep Space).

There is a delightful weightlessness to short pieces like Such Cold Hands (1'35")  with its high and fragile vocal, and although the glitches and stutters on the title track initially seem like your CD has been damaged it just takes a couple of listens for the sonic stuttters to become a logical part of the music's texture.

Some of this however sounds a bit arch and slightly too pretentious for its own good (the limping spoken word/poetry on Loaves Are Wishes being a prime offender).

But as an experiment in a different and potentially rewarding territory, there is enough here that is quietly beguiling (Instant, the pastoral Once with its bird song and electro-squiggles, the lightlydelic reprise of Four Letters).

You hope this won't be just a one-off. 

Like the sound of this? Then check out this.

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