Somnambule - Writing About Music

Raiders of the Lost Arp ~ 4

‘Arrival’ begins with the lashing sound of docking units as your cruiser decouples from its moorings. A distant announcer’s voice is audible, though too distant to be intelligible. With no friction to slow you down – how can there be in a vacuum? - you’re sailing free. ‘City Lights’ stomps you into submission with piledriving beats intent on shaking the foundations of whatever building you’re currently occupying. Halfway through, the mellowest of melodies tells you that even if everything crashes around you, it’ll be alright. ‘Bridge’ begins like an alien fire alarm then switchbacks into an uplifting tune. Things will be strange, unregnisable even, but the future will be a great place to be. That’s what ‘Bridge’ seems to be saying.

On first hearing this album sounded a little lightweight, verging on the disposable. Perhaps this impression was the result of ingrained prejudice. Prejudice is something to face out, otherwise you’re in danger of missing out on something. Persistence paid off. The sound grew bigger and bigger. What was one-dimensional became four-dimensional. What sounded straightforward became clean and sheer. What seemed simplistic acquired an air of relaxed, but deliberate spaciousness. ‘4’ is mostly the hybrid product of a melding of techno and disco and is full of fat analogue sounds. The influence of the 1970’s is audible in the warm, lambent tones of the Fender Rhodes – delicious held chords underscored by hazy synthesizers. Lovely stuff that just grows and grows. The whole thing is groovy, synthetic and purposeful.

The album ends with a 12 minute track called ‘Untitled’; the first minute seems to be made up of the eery sounds emanating from the living planet in Tarkovsky’s film Solaris. Thereafter it becomes a monster 10 minute stomper of a track. Turn those disco lights on, pump the dry ice out, unbutton your shirt/blouse and dance...

Raiders of the Lost Arp’s ‘4’ is one to file alongside Kirk DeGiorgio’s recent outings - As One’s 21st Century Soul and Offworld’s eponymous debut. It’s equally possible to slot ‘4’ in alongside some classic Donna Summer, upbeat New Order or first generation Detroit techno. Just maybe Donna Summer and Ralf Hutter had a lovechild whose godfather was Juan Atkins...
Colin Buttimer
May 2004
Published by Absorb