Album Reviews

Diagrams – Black Light

(Full Time Hobby) UK release date: 16 January 2012


Diagrams initially began as a small pet project for sometime Tunng man Sam Genders. Once it became clear the confines of his Streatham Hill bedroom was going to be too small he recruited the likes of Hannah Peel, Micachu and Fever Ray producer Subliminal Kid to add to the line-up. The result is a bright, inventive and immediately enjoyable collection of tracks that are sure to fill a hole for anyone waiting to find the next big electronic crossover act.

Diagrams nestle comfortably with contemporary leftfield electronica acts such as Hot Chip but without completely ditching the indie guitar sensibility. The album’s opener Ghost Lit sets the tone brilliantly with a poppy, psychedelic and spectral atmosphere before we head into the driving relentlessness of Tall Buildings – a track which a bass hook echoing close sonic cousins Metronomy.

Tunng fans need not worry that Genders has completely ditched the folktronica. Tracks like Night And Night vary the pace with more subtle tones. Elsewhere the title track is surprisingly upbeat and poppy considering its ominous name, and Mills goes a long way to subverting Blake’s “dark, satanic mills” of England. There’s also more than a hint of Sufjan Stevens about Antelope – a track that could easily be a bass-heavy Illonoise off-cut.

Genders’ vocals will be familiar to Tunng fans, but it’s with Diagrams that he really comes into his own. His Derbyshire accent and soft, almost breathless qualities dominate and help bolster the album’s spectral qualities. There’s also something quintessentially British about the near-deadpan delivery and the dry sprinklings of eccentric and absurdist humour among the lyrics.

It’s an effervescent album full of successful and unpretentious ideas – a less safe pair of hands could easily have resulted in esoteric Shoreditch wank but Genders and co have created a heady combination of diversity and invention without losing any pop sensibility. The thing that immediately hits you is that there’s no doubt or chin-stroking while you wait for a track to grow on you – this album gets it’s hooks into you immediately. Fans of the genre may desire something more emotionally distant, but the warmth of Genders’ approach is the album’s greatest asset and goes a long way to make Black Light an enjoyable delight.

Joseph Mount’s Metronomy originally started life as a similar project before snowballing into Mercury Prize nominated, four-piece glory. On the basis of this recording, such a pleasant fate surely awaits Diagrams. You won’t need a pie chart to tell you that Black Light constitutes a great debut and an impressive start to 2012’s release schedule.


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Diagrams – Black Light