The thing I really like about Craft Spells is the same kind of reckless, completely going for the dancy side of electronics, as Virginia Plain but with a heavy focus on the songwriting, it just happens they want to make music minus the guitars...and bass....and drums. I can admire that... when the sounds aren't having to try so god damn hard.
"Electric Eyes" on the A-Side sounds like the Dum Dum Girls or Zola Jesus if they went straight for the pop jugular. There's unabashed reverb handclaps, some kind of 1997 bassline, even a heartfelt volin or cello solo. An ancient drum machine sound without a hint of hiss or degradation, used the way they were intended, to get butts moving without that pesky guy going off beat or changing it up. I always loved the story of this band auditioning players and they settled on this bass player who jammed with them for like 20 minutes with the same perfect bassline. It was good, they just wanted to play and not deal with some dude coming in there and trying to solo every other measure.
This sultry echo vocal from Alfra Martini is right in the center of the spotlight and is the perfect idea of a prom band like the one at Better Off Dead, EG Daily, not done with any irony or glitch, pulling off a real track in the Siousxie style pop goth, a little bit of a snarl in that attitude. This track goes one step further and is even about the dancefloor. Wavering controlled vocals, perfect crafted synth laser melodies. She keeps calling back her own lyric in a massive echo, bringing that chorus back one more time when it should have ended, that's how those dance trax get you with one more chorus. This is an obvious hit A-Side.
B-Side's "Swamp thing" has a big bassline melody and a breathy kind of synth organ, maybe some live drums this time and distortion all over the back of this thing. Getting darker and closer to Sioxsie here, that kind of "I'm defeated" attitude, this tempo is even going for the almost slow dance side...sounding a bit like Karen O, playing with the girl/guy twisting it on it's head a bit. Not as hot off the floor, a more tempered number, with odd key changes, belting, still not self conscious at all, just more reserved maybe. More epic, but sad. They hit everything from the unselfconscious synth '80s without sounding like they went out of their way to do just that.
Great reenacted photo of slicing eyeballs (dali or the pixies?)
An edition of 200 from All Hands Electric Records, black vinyl with download card:
Virginia Plain is the new pop project by Alfra Martini, Justin Miller and Christian Reinhardsen, a trio that incorporates jazz inflected vocals, cyber punk style synth-scapes and electronic percussion into a classic pop template. Conceived as an outlet for the music Martini began writing after her last project Prudence Teacup went on hiatus, Martini recruited members of the ambient improv group Fono Luxe as collaborators to expand on her new found sound. Mining similar territory as OMD, The Eurythmics, and late period Roxy Music, Virginia Plain creates mood music for slow dances and futuristic night clubs.