11 March 2009

New Musik - Warp

If you were lucky enough to get a copy of the excellent Cut Copy promo mix So Cosmic then you'll know the track Warp by synth-pop pioneers New Musik. It was one of the stand out tracks in the mix and I didn't hesitate to pick up a copy of the LP when I found it in Vancouver last year. I was all set to record just the title track from the vinyl, as on a previous listen I wasn't keen on the rest of the album. But after a few more listens, it's really grown on me. Released in 1982, Warp was the group's third and final album. It was written and produced by Tony Mansfield, who also produced work for Captain Sensible, a-ha, The B-52's and After The Fire. It definitely sounds like it's from the 80's but in a good way. There are some very cheap sounding drum machines used (including a Roland TR-606 I believe), plenty of synths and a bunch of what would then have been 'new' studio effects.

Side A opens with Here Come The People, which has a nice laid back groove to it with a stuttering electronic beat, clean and tidy guitar chords and some plinky plonky piano. A Train On Twisted Tracks has a similar tempo but is more synthetic, using thick layers of synth pads over a robotic bassline; lovely stuff. Two tracks on side one share the same title - the familiar looking All You Need Is Love. Version one is their own composition; a fairly traditional sounding pop song (in comparison to the rest of the album). At the end of the 4 minutes there is an ambient interlude, after which the second version begins. It's a cover of The Beatles' classic. The swing of the original is lost and replaced with a driving 16th note bassline. The second half of the track is totally different, introducing new melodies and a great piano solo to fade - one of the best moments on the album.

Over to Side 2 and Hunting repeats a short piano loop over a thick synth bassline and 4/4 beat. The lyrics don't really make much sense but I love the feel of the track. Green And Red (Respectively) is the weirdest track on the LP, starting with the word "GREEN" and ending abruptly with the word "RED". Inbetween are 3 minutes of frantic 4/4 beats, heavily processed piano, wonky sounding synths, metallic percussion and a bunch of studio effects. The Planet Doesn't Mind has a nice ambient introduction before turning into a slightly cheesy synth funk/pop hybrid. Warp itself has a proto deep house kinda vibe to it. I love the rolling bassline and the ethereal synth pads low in the mix. The vocals are also well delivered, although the "WARP" shouts sound a little dated. Things go crazy at the end of the track, with all sorts of trickery trying to fool you into thinking your LP or cassette has warped and broke.

New Musik - Hunting

New Musik - Warp

The album was re-issued on CD in Japan in 2001. Clips of each track can be heard on last.fm. There is a great website full of info on the band here.

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