Somnambule - Writing About Music

Sean Quinn ~ Skylines

Skylines is Sean Quinn’s solo debut, although the press release indicates previous work with Steve Hillage and the inimitable and now sadly defunct Penguin Café Orchestra. The album begins with patient analogue chords that swell and ebb in a way that’s reminiscent of Vangelis or Tangerine Dream. When the synthetic rhythm kicks in there’s a recognisable pathos redolent of ‘80’s instrumental ‘b’ sides by the likes of John Foxx, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark or the Human League. Dead Air’s vocoder’ed apologies “for this temporary fault, normal service will be resumed” are accompanied by contemporary breakbeats and a delightful, cascading melody. Next up, Windscale’s whispered vocal – again delivered via vocoder – is becalmed Kraftwerk adulterated by Boards Of Canada’s hazy childhood memories.

Quinn is clearly fascinated by that space between the mid ‘70s and mid ‘80s when analogue synthesizers created the sound of dystopian futures that were both alarming and strangely alluring. This was after all the time of television dramas about societal breakdown (The Survivors, Children Of The Stones and Day Of The Triffids) and films about the aftermath of nuclear apocalypse (Threads and The Day After). For anyone who has tired of the abstract scratchiness of DSP’ed glitch electronica, Skylines will serve as a welcome antidote. Its elegant compositions bears a fragile mournfulness that hover in the consciousness like a memorable film soundtrack.
Colin Buttimer
April 2005
Published by Milkfactory