It starts, of course, in the ’80s with Psychic TV who, in my memory, are creators of quintessential music to hurt the ears of little children. The reality was a great deal more subtle, as this third album by former member John Gosling will remind old fans.
Psychic TV seemed to have a greater talent for getting up the noses of God-botherers, the Establishment and just about everybody who stood for anything traditional than they did for getting their music noticed. A few lovers of avant garde composition bought their albums, and the Sunday tabloids periodically took an unfortunate interest in their world of de-sexualisation and cathartic violence to the point where several members were forced to flee the country.
And if all that wasn’t enough to make you like them, they were also electro-pioneers, exploring to the farthest corners of sound.
In the guise of Mekon, Gosling is now ready with his third album to combine menacing and haunting refrains with the dance scene that so took his fancy. Taking dark electronica as a starting point he mixes in grimy beats and grinding baselines to produce a series of tunes that hover between a grown up Benny Benassi and Marilyn Manson‘s Disco Party Album.
Having attracted a stellar if perplexingly varied bunch of collaborators, from Suicide lead singer Alan Vega to Kevin Mooney, one of Adam’s old Ants via Funkmeister and Zulu Nation founder Afrika Bambaataa, Gosling has allowed their talents to take the lead.
Rita Brown’s icy, deadpan vocals give opening track Boy Bitten – an upmarket dancefloor anthem if ever there was one – a detached sexiness, while Vega and Bobby Gillespie, back in Jesus And Mary Chain mode, growl their way through Blood On The Moon. Marc Almond positively attacks his vocals for the vast and pounding Delirious, spitting out the words over clattering, clanking music.
In spite of all the guest stars, one of the most intriguing tracks is the brief G.S.E., the only solo Gosling composition, where a driving beat is highlighted by muffled breathing and strange groans and heart monitor beeps, an audio journey through the A&E, perhaps. Some Thing Came Up reaches its peak on the second to last track, D-Funktional, which has Afrika Bambaataa’s rollicking stamp all over it, a deliciously hard-edged piece where every strand feels rough and ground out.
For people who appreciate dance music as more than a beat to jump up and down to, this inventive and refreshingly wide-ranging collection of compositions represents a rare treat.