For a label as prolific as Lobster Theremin have been over the last few years, I have always been a little bit surprised that there has not been more of an attempt to get some decent electro out there, particularly as they have always seemed willing to support some properly freaky music. But, with the exception of a rather fine release by Privacy a while back, it has remained a decidedly blank space in their release schedules.
Yet a tweet at the start of the year that they had been sitting on a pile of electro but hadn’t yet let it out into the wild got my hopes up. While the genre is well served at the moment with a number of great specialist electro labels, there is always more room for more. Beyond that the fact that Lobster are beginning to twist themselves around to electro’s oddball charms is even more evidence that the genre is growing in strength.
The last release by ITPDWIP, Post Love on Brokntoys was a record I liked more than loved. It was an interesting mix of wistful melodies and solid enough contemporary electro trappings which pitched itself somewhere between the classic end of the genre and somewhere on the border between IDM-ish noodling and a looser, poppier, vibe. It was enjoyable but never seemed to have quite enough to separate it from the crowd.
Eye Can See The Light (In The End Of The Tunnel) is a different beast, and one that quickly shirks off the constraints of the genre to deliver something which sets its sights further afield. The A side tends towards the more obviously electro, but does so with panache, especially on Blinded By The Light where a lightness of touch mixes with the beautifully understated, slightly wonky vocals to deliver something heavily infused with genuine soulfulness. It’s a playful, deceptively sleepy hit of high-tech jazz which rides a gently haphazard breakbeat into the clouds. The Jeremiah R Remix perhaps loses something of the original’s quiet invention but replaces it with more Drexciyan tones and overt grooves, and the sort of electrified percussion which gets everything wriggling whilst retaining much of the original’s smiles.
The B side pushes out on its own, removing the breaks from both tracks but mixing in a more pronounced sense of experimental adventure. On first listen both I Am Not Him and Outernet feel like they owe something to mid period Detroit’s fascination with creating melody and space out of the most disparate of elements, and Outernet in particular swims through the internal cosmos in a similar way to some of Kenny Larkin’s older material used to. Repeated listening both emphasises some of those touches, but also reveals the tracks to be looser, the orchestration more willing to open up and invite different energies into the proceedings. Both tunes are lovely; skanking rogue blasts of midnight sunlight flecking the electro ocean with wide-eyed funk. Outernet, the darker, heavier of the two, builds a thicker sense of drama, but it’s I Am Not Him which best encapsulates both the warmth and soul which lies at the heart of the record. Utilising much of the poppy vibe from the Brokntoys release, it simmers at just the right temperature, drawing out a strain of bleepy fun with which sentient machines run riot.
Whether or not forthcoming Lobster Theremin electro releases hit the same levels as Eye Can See The Light (In The End Of The Tunnel) remains to be seen. It can be a tricky vein to mine if you’re not 100% in love with it. But, based on the evidence here, we might be on to a very good thing, and any widening of the pool can only be good for all of us. Bring it on.