One of the great fallacies is the idea that electronic music could only seem icy and detached. Sure, that can – intentionally – be a component of the sound, but where the style was once some sort of outlier it’s now best-positioned to provide poignancy and comment on how we live; we’ve caught up to it. Or something. That’s very much the case with ML Buch’s debut long-player, her songs and instrumental segues appearing as warm, thoughtful connections and comments on the human condition. Never icy. Never detached. Marie Louise Buch, a Danish-born, now Berlin-based composer, musician and vocalist creates pop songs and hides them inside glitch-free electronica glides; the music liquid-like in its flow, the lyrics speaking directly to and from the human condition.
A touchstone might be Oneohtrix Point Never. Certainly I can hear Daniel Lopatin’s use of texturing and day-glo fades in some of what Buch offers here. In fact it’s immediately obvious as opener Can You Hear My Heart Leave takes shape. Percussive synth pads set up both tone and rhythm before the song-proper announces itself. Eventually we’re left with a finger-picked guitar and human voice, folk music staples.
Touching Screens is the pop-song highlight here, its subtle rhythmic and melodic merge recalling Don Henley’s 80s pop hits or Belinda Carlisle certainly as Buch builds on the early Grimes ideas but more calmly creates a song around a simple hook, the repeated line, “touching screens more than skin” a mantra of Black Mirror sadness, and a hopeful, happy realisation of the role technology plays in not just assisting us in our lives but in shaping relationships.
There are vocal-only tracks that feel like an update of Laurie Anderson (I Feel Like Giving You Things) and instrumental-only segues (O) that work as beguiling bridging links. Closer, Mv, is a deep meditation that recalls Cocteau Twins’ slow-swirl before going deeper and darker towards Lustmord and Burial textures.
A lot is achieved in just 27 minutes. You can somehow feel quite widescreen-enabled now when staring into a phone in the palm of your hand. That’s how it is with this album also.
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