Experiments are never dull. Successful ones seem to last forever (Kraftwerk’s Trans-Europe Express helped pave the way for many modern kinds of music). Unsuccessful ones don’t go quietly but are remembered in fits of nostalgia (Lou Reed’s Metal-Machine Music thankfully never left the ‘discount’ shelf). A truly successful experiment is a pretty undefinable thing: what do you call a ‘success’ or a ‘failure’? In a hundred years time we could easily be talking about Trans-Europe Express as the failure, and Metal-Machine Music as the visionary. As Bob Dylan said, ‘…there’s no success like failure, and failure’s no success at all’. With success and failure so subjective it’s easy to see why so many artists are content to find a happy little rut and stay in it – who can honestly say that Fatboy Slim didn’t find a consistent formula and stick to it like a plaster? It isn’t intended as a criticism, just that some artists would rather eat all the apples in the tree before trying a new fruit, whereas some are always looking enviously at the other tree and wondering ‘what if that is better?’.
Young producer Andrei Eremin decided that he didn’t want to eat apples for ever, he didn’t want to stick to the formulae laid down by previous incumbents, and released Pale Blue as an attempt to combat it. Sounding like a Jean Michel Jarre composition, it counters its airy vocals with thick electronics; nothing is too hard to replicate for Andrei, and the workmanship here is something to be greatly admired. Mind, having said that it sounds like Jean Michel Jarre, it doesn’t; it sounds like nothing else you’ve heard – some songs sound as if they are the result of mixing Disclosure and Neu! together, some sound as if someone has got a Flaming Lips record and stuck the intro on repeat. The emerging tradition of guest vocalists is here again: Eremin does the slightly bizarre thing of hiring five artists/singers who sound exactly like each other, so there is little diversity, however with the EP only having five tracks it would be stretching to say that the songs begin to homogenise.
However, this is not a flawless album. The aforementioned workmanship does begin to sound slightly forced by the EP’s close and it also (strangely, given that this album was apparently partly recorded in shed) lacks the DIY feel of others – notably The Chemical Brothers. The music, whilst well constructed, does start to sound as though it was recorded from the same base – the five tracks sound like they are stretching Eremin’s ingenuity to the limits. The lyrics are not something that will go down in history, they are all pretty bog-standard electronic ‘I am not [this], but I am [this]’ cut and pastes, although with such wonderful music, who’s going to listen to the lyrics?
Success or failure? To soon to tell really. Give it twenty years or so, then get back to us. At the minute what we have is a very good EP, a diamond. A rough, unpolished one, but a diamond nonetheless.
Pale Blue will be released independently on August 28 2015.