slow motion existential catastrophe (set to music)
Back in the more innocent days of 2011, Homework seemed poised to slipstream fellow Scottish synthwave buzz bands such as Chvrches into mid-level festival act with terrestrial TV spots-type success. Heady stuff but sadly it was not to be. The reasons for the split remain obscure to most apart from the protagonists but after mixed reviews for their 2013 album 13 Towers, the two brothers at the heart of Homework parted company musically.
Now frontman Oliver Kass is back, sans sibling, with an avowedly clean slate. “The idea of starting with a completely blank canvas was just too tempting,” he explains. Tonight is the live debut of his new act Future Get Down, a collaboration with Homework alumnus Ally Dennis. The duo loom out of a magenta cloud of dry ice to excited applause: although Glasgow mob The Imagineers are technically topping the bill, everyone is here to see Future Get Down. They are joined on stage by a supporting cast of drummer Sam Bidgood, Jeanne Laidlaw on synth and percussion and Brian Pokora controlling samples and effects. The new material showcases similar electro-synth influences but despite the live drums and Dennis’ bass alongside the various keyboards and other boxes necessary to reproduce the tracks live, there is a purer digitalism on display than the more analogue guitar sound of before.
The duo made their intentions clear with a crystalline shard of driving electro entitled Dreamkillers released for streaming last summer. The track is the result of a session at producer Richard Formby’s studio in Leeds. Future Get Down’s diamond hard electronica combined with Formby’s background as sometime member of seminal 80’s indie act The Jazz Butcher before launching a career as control room Svengali with Spacemen 3’s swansong Recurring bodes well for future releases. Formby’s recent CV includes albums by modish artists such as Wild Beasts, Ghostpoet and Egyptian Hiphop.
Such then is the anticipation surrounding tonight’s gig. The Inverness-born Kass & co do not disappoint. The fogbanks of rose-tinted smoke and sci-fi fencing masked press shots maybe designed to deconstruct the cult of personality but they can’t conceal the birthpangs of an idea whose time has come. Future Get Down’s eponymous dance party is teleported to the here-and-now with a ballroom blitz of sequenced cyber-pop humanised by a New Romantic lyricism. In particular, Kass’ impassioned, almost plaintive performance is fascinating. His camp theatrics and mannered vocal style are endearing: as if Dave Gahan were channeling a Utopian Todd Rundgren. But Kass’ heartfelt evocations of rained out provincial holidays and other suburban disappointments do not vibe sentimental. His voice is treated in reverb, echo and other distortional counterpoints, wrongfooting any easy assumptions. Likewise, Future Get Down’s image betrays an ongoing obsession with a Daft Punk robot-schtick. But there is appropriately little of the French pioneers’ discofied prettiness here. This is 2017. Future Get Down could well be the soundtrack to our unfolding dystopia. The Ambassador and I will be coming with them.
This article first appeared in Product Magazine http://www.productmagazine.co.uk/
Jannica Honey’s photography can be found here http://www.jannicahoney.com/