As one of the most promising new acts in the UK, CURXES have been continuing their development with a more aggressive post-punk template with wonderful songs such as the haunting staircase mystery of ‘Spectre’ and the CHVRCHES gone aggro stand point of ‘Avant-Guarded’.
And as part of the thrilling international wave of new electronic based music, CURXES have also opened for acclaimed artists such as KARIN PARK and TRUST as well as being commissioned by CHVRCHES to remix the single ‘Recover’.
But when the Blitz Poppers first made a splash on the scene back in Summer 2011, they were “a decorative set of bones, channelling the ghosts of discothèques past”. With minor keys and Chromatic chord structures laced with Roberta Fidora’s powerful vocals and Macaulay Hopwood’s nouvelle vague sensibilities, they sounded not unlike DEPECHE MODE being eaten by SIOUXSIE & THE BANSHEES. Things have changed a little since then so before the debut album proper, CURXES have issued an interim mini-album of their excellent earlier material as a clearing of the decks exercise. Thus in the manner of John The Baptist, ‘Precurxor’ is the one that speaks of the one who will come after!
The opening track ‘Creatures’ is the duo’s homage to the Replicant love of ‘Blade Runner’ and is probably the most immediate of their earlier work.
Released originally as a their second single, it takes a tremendous neo-Neubauten journey via ‘Music For The Masses’ and has Roberta Fidora’s deep emotive voice coming out to the fore. Its excellent B-side ‘Jaws’ though is more frantic and guitar laced. Influenced by the 1987 film ‘The Lost Boys’, Hopwood’s scaling six string riffs are reminiscent of John McGeoch in Banshee mode, capturing the tension of the classic ‘World In Action’ opening theme with its clusters of gothic aggression.
Often using found sounds for their percussive template, ‘Once Upon A Time’ is an exciting fusion of a white van, a biro, household items and heavy breathing with Francois Kevorkian’s remix of KRAFTWERK’s ‘Tour De France’ looming within its sonics. The incongruous digital slap bass is delightful despite conjuring up memories of SWING OUT SISTER’s ‘Breakout’! The haunting neo-gothique flavour of debut single ‘The Constructor’ however is a fine example of a synth friendly Siouxsie going on a mutant staccato journey with synthetic choirs and strings holding together over a squelchy bass backbone. Meanwhile, the sparse, drone assisted ‘Spires’ sees Fidora enter THIS MORTAL COIL accompanied by Hopwood’s Guthrie influenced textures.
While the core five tracks that showcased CURXES sound between 2010-2011 are all present and correct, also included on ‘Precurxor’ are two previously unheard demos from the period. ‘Lightness’, which was played at TEC001, is a marvellously eerie mood piece which is then punctuated by a building electro-goth crescendo in the choruses while the windswept tune that is ‘A Primary Question’ is comparatively lighter and points to a love of THE CURE and guitar driven NEW ORDER.
The release of ‘Precurxor’ is a milestone for CURXES and an important curriculum vitae. Where they are heading next may be less overtly synthy but is still technologically dynamic and inventive. Without the material on ‘Precurxor’, that journey could not have started… and in the words of the duo themselves; there is ‘Further Still’.
CURXES ‘Precurxor’ is available now as a CD or download from https://curxes.bandcamp.com/album/precurxor
Text by Chi Ming Lai
12th April 2014