Harsh isolation, dystopian dreamscapes, semi-connected catharsis caught up in electronic precision.
That’s the evolving sound of Blancmange 2.0; collections of stripped down half hooks, building in escalating elaborations, repeated in sheets of thin ice and cool water. This is Neil Arthur from 2016’s Unfurnished Rooms, through to 2017’s Fader and Near Future, through this year’s Blancmange album Wonderlust.
Riot tinged pop and protest promotion… But I feel safer than I should be feeling.
‘It’s Rats to the Ratrace. It’s Rats on the Run…’ I Guess even rats can get tied up in twists. Hard not to see it as some kind of fail, back to scratching around on the decks going down, kicking hard to keep calm in the water. We’re back in UK with the same burn to go, to be living someplace somehow else.
What went wrong? Almost nothing. Three months in the US driving East coast to West then a month in Saigon, Vietnam…
(…and just what it means to want to be ‘somewhere else’)
A show reviewed last year at Rescue Rooms, Nottingham was the first time I really encountered Blancmange. I’d had an awareness, an occasional knowledge of the odd track or accolade, but that show was my main introduction.
Right after the show, once the lights got turned up, I tried grabbing a couple of words. It was last night of tour and then wasn’t the time but I was assured I could grab a word sometime.
Here’s the first set of highlights from the state of Colorado… a close to whistle stop tour of Red Rocks Amphitheater, the Million Dollar Highway and Dinosaur Ridge. Queen, natural beauty, sci-fi kicks, claws and warnings all wrapped up in a Rats tour guide wrapping.
You could hunt around looking for fat to trim off but you’d be hard pushed to find much to cut. Personality Cult’s new debut LP is a lean hard wired helping of short, sharp, sweet tracks packed with thin wry-lipped smiles and breezy snot nosed punk.
With the red dust of Strangeness, Oklahoma behind us, we tacked west and made our way up. My face stung from turps as Texas plains gave way to upended earth and Colorado crept up on us to cover our tracks.
Enter a drone on delay, drag out the scratches and build, call in a smooth set of chiming guitars and slam with a drum weighted howl. Hollow Thieves opens Bad Llama’s new EP with a clean polished anger and grandeur.
The aim is Colorado with ambitions for Denver. We take an $18 stop at an Air BnB, Oklahoma to step out of Texas just ‘cus. Our hire car runs and rattles down pigtracks, spitting out clouds of dust and kicking out a red mist right behind us. My mind plays out North by Northwest and X-Files movie drive scenes and I have to remember not to have too much fun.