Release Date: Jan 13, 2009
Record label: Astralwerks
Genre(s): Rock, Electronic
Fantasy Black Channel is the most thrilling British debut of the year for its spirit of invention, its surfeit of ideas and its ear for a good tune. The Castle Donington four-piece may be young pups but they reference prog, heavy metal, Roxy Music, Blur, Aphex Twin and Gary Numan - often all in the same song. Bathroom Gurgle begins as synth-pop, but after two minutes it suddenly bursts into falsetto spandex rock.
Perhaps Late of the Pier’s Sam Potter said it best when he described the band’s sound as follows: “The minute you think it’s one thing, it’s the exact opposite." Fantasy Black Channel, the British fourpiece’s long-awaited debut, is at once strangely familiar and like nothing you’ve ever heard. Although perhaps too far-reaching in its influences and ideals to become popular with mainstream America, the album is certainly poised to become a favorite for open-minded music heads who like their rock spiked with a heavy dose of the electronic. The recipients of massive amounts of attention in the U.K.
It's a yawnably familiar back-story: following a string of hyped independent singles, a band of young upstarts drops its eagerly anticipated first LP to the notoriously hyperbolic adulation of the British music press. As U.S. listeners would discover five months later, when an Astralwerks release in early 2009 gave them a chance to hear what all the fuss was about, it's a familiar sound, too: in essence, the same basic mode of synth-heavy dance-punk that has dominated blogs and indie club nights ever since the Rapture's breakout early in the decade.
On the face of things, Fantasy Black Channel is, like, so 2007. But while Late of the Pier exhibit touchstones of the nu-rave emergence that fleetingly intrigued and quickly irked the British press not so long ago, it doesn’t take too many spins of their debut album to see that there’s something decidedly more substantial here. Yes, there are the club-ready beats, the brightly-coloured analog synth, the metrosexuality and the occasionally blasé vocals—all of which helped make Klaxons a conspicuous attraction before the likes of Does It Offend You, Hadouken!, and New Young Pony Club brought about a premature fustiness in the faintly preposterous mini-scene that never really was.
After overseeing albums by the Long Blondes and Mystery Jets, DJ Erol Alkan has apparently retired from production following this third record. It's not hard to see why; Fantasy Black Channel is a tour de force comprising glam, techno, and rave , all of which he twists into unimaginable shapes. It's hard to see how he or they could spin a more definitive statement.