Saturday, 7 April 2018

Sir Robert Orange Peel - Snapchat (Metal Postcard)

The once radical act of cutting up and putting together a bunch of sampled voices has, like most activities carried out in the name of popular music, become generally horribly stale and predictable.   The genre, if it can be called that, desperately needs someone to raise it above its sterile condition, to recognise that the relative simplicity of the practice isn't an excuse simply to toss out any old junk and stick it on Soundcloud.
Sir Robert Orange Peel may well be that person.  His second album, which follows with almost impertinent haste on the heels of his previous collection, is a triumph of wit and audacity that works so well fundamentally because, hidden beneath the sampled voices and intoxicating rhythms that have an appealing ring of The Normal or Fad Gadget about them, is a shrewdly deployed obsession.
If this is sometimes veiled by arch references and cultural in-jokes, then that just adds a further layer to a highly enjoyable listening process.  You don't have to be familiar with The Fall to understand where the title of 'Europeans in Australia' comes from and you don't have to know anything about The Lovely Eggs to get the reference in 'Get your mince pies off my lovely eggs!' - a version of which first appeared in session in my Dandelion Radio show in January - and there's certainly a deep mine of enjoyment to be ploughed even among the uninitiated.
It's not all about celebratory references though.  If the potential AI issues brought forth in 'Alexa' have received significant coverage elsewhere lately, then the title track 'Snapchat' - which you can hear in my show this month - is perhaps still more disconcerting.  A world where mobile phones and social media don't merely become an aid to communication but the very focus of it is articulated by a female voice that relates to us, in a perfectly matter of fact tone, how she 'literally cries' when her phone is out of data.  
Meanwhile, 'I write in love and desperation', has chilling undertones of its own, offering another warning that, in a world where social bonds have become the very focus of existence, casualties are many and often lurk behind a façade of lucid ordinariness, demonstrated here by a narrator whose articulate words convey horrors that are both dark and all-too plausible.
None of this is to underplay the level of playfulness  that is always present in the work of Sir Robert, but this new collection has a depth to it that is an evolving feature of that work and allows 'Snapchat' to become far more than merely a one-off novelty listen.  It also hints of great possibilities to come.
Get 'Snapchat' as a digital download here


1 comment:

  1. thankyou mark for a wonderfully insightful review - unsurprisingly i concur! best sean MP