They returned to the Scottish electronic music scene in 2008 with both new and re-hashed ideas, before quickly establishing themselves as an act of interest.
Led by the man with a powerful voice – John Brown, the first album ‘Dischord’ received warm enough welcome for the trio to gig extensively and cement their reputation within the fanbases of DEPECHE MODE and MESH.
‘The Thin Line’ followed with grand industrial sounds, but it wasn’t all about the foot stomping beat of FRONT 242; the melodious elements followed, clearly influenced by OMD, Depeche and the works by Giorgio Moroder.
The third long player, ‘Trinity’ marked a turning point for ANALOG ANGEL, with a maturer sound and more varied influences from all three band members, John Brown, Derek MacDonald and Ian Ferguson. Co-produced by Philip Morrison, it had a more polished feel to it and heralded a slight detour from the rawer-sounding outings AA were known for.
Having a cynical approach to over-production and over-compression, the two sadly predominant features of most electronic music on the UK scene, the production retained most of its originality and congenial feel.
And that fact certainly rings true with the new album ‘Four Front’. Entitled to celebrate the fact that three became four: with the admission of a lady into the men dominated group, the textures are bound to vary to accommodate the vocal of Tracy J Cox.
Brown summarises the album as “based on our experiences”, and, boy, the experience does show.The production’s herald, ‘Inner Peace’ ushers the era of powerful synth, elegantly waving through the meanders of voices of Brown and Cox.
ANALOG ANGEL have definitely done their homework on the music front here: Ferguson’s ability to layer sounds shines through, making this a persuasive opener.
Following on is the title track, which is indeed “OMD meets Numan” in a can. The raw, pastoral execution canvasses the Brown-Ferguson harmonies.
The tempo slows down somewhat with the compelling ‘I Am Me’, Brown’s favourite and a superbly accomplished tune written by Ferguson. This ballad, reminiscent of A-HA, is full of uncertainty and moroseness with fragile strings and gentle electronic symbols. AA are going fully Nordic with this one; the track could be easily placed alongside the songs of yet another Norwegian band, ELECTRO SPECTRE.
The tempo speeds up again with Ferguson’s ‘Leaving’, leading onto ‘Flourish’. Describing the life in Glasgow, and the motto of “Let Glasgow Flourish” is Brown’s second favourite and a further nod towards simple piano and eloquent synth.
The rain theme continues with ‘Another Rainy Day In June’. More piano and strings are interwoven within the proficient synthpopia reminiscing MESH.
Here, Brown is again joined by Ferguson on vocals; the latter magnificently sounding like Mark Hockings’ twin.
As much as the band founder wants to steer clear from his obvious influences of EBM, ‘Paranoid’ brings the palpable connotations. And why not? It is quite superb.
‘Turn The Lock’ freshly marries vintage PET SHOP BOYS and equally vintage DEPECHE MODE, followed by the song Brown wrote to suit Cox’s vocals; ‘Perpetual Motion’ is the first proper outing for Tracy J Cox, who has become a fully contributing member of ANALOG ANGEL.
Brown’s staple nod to religion realises itself in the closing ‘Cradle 2 Grave’. This could easily be a PERFIDIOUS WORDS song, with a heavier lyrical content however.
What a journey ANALOG ANGEL have been on; while the spectre of styling themselves as Mode lookalikes is long gone, some references to the Kings Of Electronica still remain, if only in the musical sense; the familiar connotations have been discerned towards the beginning of the band’s journey, now seeing them evolve into an act with its own sound.
Ferguson has clearly influenced AA’s output, producing superb tunes, which sound original and clean. Brown’s vocal, as well as the lyrical content have matured.
Phillip Morrison gives the album the final polish, keeping the crispness and shying away from over-production.
Following their concept of the rawness; the nomadic aura remains, and maybe that is why ANALOG ANGEL’s comeback rings fresher, well-formed tunes, making them worthy a mention within the cream of the crop of UK electronica.
‘Four Front’ is released on 23rd April 2016 can be pre-ordered as a download or CD from
Text by Monika Izabela Goss
Photos and artwork by Mark Walker @ MNW Visual Communications
19th April 2016