Label: Silber, US
Details: CD/DL. 16 tracks, 59 minutes.
This is a lot different to anything else I’ve heard by Remora. The guitars have largely been jettisoned in favour of early eighties analogue synthesisers. Mecha is a concept album put together by Remora (aka Silber head-honcho Brian John Mitchell) with an accompanying comic. It’s a tale of a dystopian future of robot freedom fighters in the grand DC/Marvel tradition.
Musically, this is deliberately almost simplistic stuff with the Normal, pre-Dare Human League and the non-pop side of OMD the obvious reference points. The tracks with vocals are given a dispassionate deadpan delivery that resembles John Foxx’s most mechanistic performances.
It’s obviously a deliberate move by Remora to make Mecha sound like something that could have been made thirty years ago at the pre-dawn of the synthpop boom. It works for the most part, but there’s a nagging feeling that a number of tracks overdo the two-note, one finger synth patterns and could use a bit more complexity. There are interludes that are more abstract and do help to break up the icy monotony, injecting a little dirt to the otherwise clean boing-boing-boing of the synth melodies. Many of these are the most successful pieces – the industrial metallurgy of closer 049 is particularly good.
I guess Mecha is an attempt to reconnect with the sc-fi tradition of albums such as Travelogue and Reproduction, and as a retro-future exercise it achieves everything it sets out to admirably. In some ways, in 2010 such a project is akin to the “Ethnological Forgeries” committed by Can where they created pseudo-facsimile versions of obscure tribal music or scratchy twenties hot jazz records – i.e. an exercise in musical time travel.