Exploring the underbelly of Hollywood with tracks inspired by leftfield 80s pop and smooth 90s downtempo music
Los Angeles – and specifically a psychogeographical Los Angeles of empty mansions, deserted cerulean swimming pools and highways that wind endlessly – is the landscape that has inspired the bittersweet orchestral paeans of Nicholas Krgovich’s ‘On Sunset’. Krgovich has created a very subtle and subliminal audio environment with this album and its subject matter. The gorgeous, glittering artifice of a city built on fame and its ultimately hollow and melancholy payoff is not only evocative, it is profound in its pastel-hued pathos.
The obvious reference points for ‘On Sunset’ are 80s outfits like Prefab Spout, Scritti Politti and The Blue Nile. We’re talking sugar-coated experimentalism and highbrow pop. It’s also somewhat reminiscent of Sweetback, the late 90s downtempo house and funk project of Sade’s backing band. There are times, such as the brilliant but derivative lead single, ‘Along The PCH On Oscar Night’, where you feel that Krgovich has carefully studied Paddy McAloon’s formula for erudite refrains and cinematic tones, and pretty much reproduced it note for note.
In Krgovich’s defence, his is not an obvious form of 1980s revivalism. During the wholesale pillage of that decade’s music that’s been going on in recent years, the focus has largely been on brisk, angular, post punk guitar music – Gang Of Four et al – and primary colour electro influences. Not so many have attempted to resurrect the literate postmodernism of the highly intelligent and deliciously avant garde pop of the era. On balance, then, perhaps Krgovich is to be commended for unearthing some treasures and taking inspiration from less likely sources.
I would imagine part of the reason for this is the sheer musicality and the nuance needed to reproduce both the pristine veneer and the intricate melodics, harmonics and orchestrations. Despite sounding effortless – like languid ripples in places – Krgovich’s music has a modern classical complexity and suggests a knowledge of oblique, diminished, unexpected chord changes and atonality. You’ve got to know the rules before you break them. That said, I don’t think Krgovich’s songwriting is a strong as that of McAloon or Green Gartside and his melodics are softer and less emphatic. Ambient and downtempo have certainly also had an influence here.
‘Along The PCH On Oscar Night’ is definitely the strongest track and the one that’s going to be most popular with the downloaders. ‘Rock’s Dream’ also sounds rather luxurious, though, the melody gliding smoothly on strings and piano into the ether. Don’t be afraid to go with it.