Manchester electronic veteran Eric Random has a fascinating history as a Factory Club stalwart in THE TILLER BOYS and post-punk experimentalist.
As a member of BUZZCOCKS’ inner circle, his first album ‘That’s What I Like About Me’ came out in 1980 on New Hormones who released the seminal ‘Spiral Scratch’ EP; it was co-produced by Stephen Mallinder and Random later worked with CABARET VOLTAIRE on their ‘2X45’ album.
But Random made his return in 2014 with ‘Man Dog’ released by Austrian label Klanggalerie, having last issued a long player using his own name in 1986 as ERIC RANDOM & THE BEDLAMITES. ‘Words Made Flesh’ then appeared in 2016 before being quickly followed by ‘Two Faced’ a year later.
With his new work ‘Wire Me Up’ released by analogue underground independent Sleepers Records, Random’s stark style of presentation remains, but his vocals in the vein of FAD GADGET take a breather on this primarily instrumental set. However, vocodered vocals do appear by ‘Stealth’ over a chromatic soundtrack of rhythmic passages not unlike DEPECHE MODE when they were good, while they are more robotically direct on the obviously KRAFTWERK-inspired ‘Systematic’.
But it all starts with the gentle pulsing of ‘Nothing Is True’, although that mood is immediately offset by the playful noise arrangements on ’Target’. ‘Monochrome’ offers something dark and bleepy as a slice of voice sample laden electro, with the occasional clatter of an 808 snare and some doomy synth vibrato providing a suitably anxious feel. Meanwhile ‘Commence Countdown’ is catchy techno-funk despite its fits of industrialised noise terror.
Held around a hypnotic bassline, the eerie sweeps of ‘Skid Row’ recall the arthouse cinematic work of John Foxx, while cut from a similar sheet of steel, the brilliant ‘You Seem The Same’ exploits a minimal use of vocoder while catching the ear with some wonderful bursts of cold vox humana strings over what can only be described as a bouncy backbone.
Chunkily uptempo, ’The Louder You Scream’ is accessible with a wide range of buzzy textures and chilling vibes. With lashings of synth arpeggios and simplistic claps, ‘Hypnophobia’ has menace in its claustrophobic air before it all ends with the comparatively ambient overtures of ‘The Outsider’.
‘Wire Me Up’ is an enjoyable collection of classic synth instrumentals with an edge. For those who prefer their electronica to be vocal-free but desiring a musical hook every now and then, Eric Random’s double length long player is an ideal listening experience.
‘Wire Me Up’ is released as double vinyl LP by Sleepers Records, audio preview and information on stockists at https://soundcloud.com/sleepersound-2/eric-random-wire-me-up
Text by Chi Ming Lai
26th June 2019