Monday, December 15, 2014
Ollo - "Transistor Resistor" on Metal Postcard Records
Who isn't in love with the digital sounds of the '80s. They reek of nostalgia, even back then and had their own mysterious process in creating sound that can't be emulated. I guess it's like vinyl in that way. I don't know the science, just that having that thing in your hand is a lot more fun and inspiring than a laptop. Ollo must have their own thrift store amount of circuits that make sound. Sometimes even that generic casio can have a rhythm preset or swirling chime sound that you've never heard anywhere else. Not to mention the physical side of having replacement parts for things that aren't worth fixing or no one else knows how to do it. What came first, the band or the storage units full of 'digital rhythm programmers'.
A-Side's "Transistor Resistor" opens with those ancient sounds taking up the bass line until an actual person comes in on drums in the style and gated no room sound of the period. These sounds are inherently just what they are; cold and precise. Ollo's challenge is to give them some kind of life like a defibrillator. There's an attempt at life jerk but really it's impossible, just keep trying. Kraftwerk proved these sounds can't escape their conception and you have to just go with it. Ollo have no problem enhancing the fits and tics of the equipment and delivering vocals with that shallow robotic reverb in an equally jagged vocal. The whole thing has that kind of playful pop vibe though, like Stereolab without the repetition, their approach becomes shaped by these vintage instruments in a similar way with a more laid back result.
"Full Stop Blue" locks on a low sine wave and phases it with pitch wheels starting to sound a lot darker than the A-Side track. Those low register pressure analog synth sounds push speaker cones in new directions coming off especially great on vinyl. Like a Magnetic Fields ballad, they push and pull this technology way past where anyone at the time had foresight to go. Without even trying, they avoid typical structures and these sounds lead you as much as they bend to your will. There's no denying that the technical skill it takes to wrangle this equipment is almost as hard as getting it all lined up in these pop ways. A more subtle track, this is a real tear on the robot's cheek.
Black vinyl, in a gatefold single sleeve, which is more rare than the single itself. Get it from Metal Postcard direct or Discogs.