A sensual and seductive psychedelic voyage into electronic waters
If you’re going to name your electronic/distorto-bass/80s synth project after the drug that Hunter S Thompson claims to be sucking from vials in the opening pages of ‘Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas’, then it had better be good. For the most part, Andrenachrome’s ‘New Beginnings’ is exactly that.
Andrenachrome is rookie musician/producer Steve Eyre, who wins favour in the first instance through a mix of fuzz and fizz. The opener proper of ‘New Beginnings’ is ‘Golden Gates’, a pretty astonishing workout to introduce yourself with. There’s a big battering beat, the distorted bass takes the spotlight, and the voice swirls in a cloud of reverb and jangling electronics. It’s even reminiscent of The Flaming Lips in its tremulous vocalising and powering sense of forward motion, combined with a psychedelic tendency to shift the frequencies to produce out-of-body experiences.
At other points, there are shades of Public Service Broadcasting, another act whose use of vocal samples transports their music to different times and places. But in the likes of the heavenly ‘Your Final Dream’, Andrenachrome offers something more lush and seductive than PSB’s bookishness, with a stronger strain of sexuality. In ‘Odyssee De L’Espace’, for example, Eyre gradually builds on a simple disco beat, starting off with a bouncing, honking synth, to which he then adds an electronic choir of beautiful voices, until you’re about fit to steer your ship on to the rocks.
The first half of ‘New Beginnings’ really doesn’t put a foot wrong. It’s solidly inventive, highly appealing and great fun, with each song bringing a fresh dimension to the party. By the end of the title track, which delivers an emotive, soulful vocal over a nervous, bubbling synth bassline, you’re about as convinced as you need to be that you’re listening to your new favourite artist.
But while the album doesn’t ever lose the plot, there is a growing sense that this is two records jammed together, one a top-drawer collection of psychedelic electronica, the other a hodge-podge of instrumental bedroom experiments, some of which don’t quite work. ‘Divide & Funk’ is entertaining but sounds a little perfunctory. It has all the hallmarks of an undeveloped idea with a pretty ropey organ improvising throughout. And although ‘Go Tropo’ pulls off some beautiful moments despite its unpromising title, it possibly gets a bit overwrought in its Avalanches-esque good-times stew.
Steve Eyre is from Lincolnshire, an English county of peculiarly savage flatness in places. It would be nice to imagine this collection of spacious, driving electronic music being produced under its vast sky, perhaps as an attempt to escape the imposed reality of the dismal low-lying agri-biz warehouses of Sleaford. If that was the intent, then full marks, job done.