Electronic Sound: Reviews (Issue 69)

Reviews originally published in Issue 69 of Electronic Sound magazine, September 2020:

Hot Pots
(Castles In Space)

In which Brighton’s prolific Neil Hale takes minimalist utilitarianism to extremes. It’s as good a hobby as any. No track titles here, merely eight numbered slices of twinkling, instrumental pop that suggest Hale spent his lockdown cultivating an intense relationship with the 1983 OSCar synth upon which this entire opus was performed. Like the OSCar itself, the whole barmy escapade feels delightfully British, a throwback to an era when nerdy adolescents perused Freemans catalogues for the latest clunky keyboards.

Or, indeed, appeared on Top of the Pops. ‘Hot Pots 2’ in particular has a tantalising whiff of Vince Clarke, and it’s hard not to imagine Alison Moyet lurking round the corner, never quite hitting her cue to start singing. ‘Hot Pots 4’ shimmers atop dark undercurrents, ‘Hot Pots 7’ is grandly cinematic, and Hale – on his third Castles in Space album of 2020 alone – shows no signs of flagging. The OSCar must be sweating buckets, though.

Album available here:

(Clay Pipe)

Knickerbocker Glory, anyone? David Boulter‘s musical love letter to his childhood memories of Great Yarmouth perfectly encapsulates the hallucinatory bliss of a stiflingly hot school holiday. Opener ‘Across Sea to Sand’ is jazz-tinged and cinematic, all flutes and vibraphone, the soundtrack to Ipcress-era Michael Caine licking a cornet outside the Milk Bar. And ‘Milk Bar’ itself introduces a languid brass section, as the album slows to beatific stillness. 

As a founder member of Tindersticks, Boulter is a dab hand at capturing moods – but perhaps rarely the mood of being six years old, with time in virtual stasis. ‘Sandcastles’ and ‘Rusty Old Pedal Car’ are touching evocations of that feeling, of being lost in a perpetual sunny afternoon of endless play. Elsewhere, tinkling glockenspiels, softy-plucked guitars and lilting strings weave around the sound of gulls and sea. An album of stale suncream, sandy chips and exquisitely faded glamour, with a sense of sublime melancholy that slowly overwhelms like the incoming tide.  

Album available here:

Living Posthumously
(Third Kind)

Is Aberdeen ambience a thing? It is now. Komische-obsessed Granite City resident Bob Plant has previously recorded for Concrete Tapes, and his debut for Third Kind is a superlative collection of soothing, amniotic calm that starts gently before settling into downright blissful torpor. The likes of ‘Spectacular Items’ and ‘Degrader’ evoke the softer side of Eno and Cluster’s late 1970s collaborations, and the splendidly-named ‘Advances In Shelving’ is a drifting, afternoon daydream of an album closer.

Album available here:

Girl Zero
(Spun Out Of Control)

2013 might feel like a golden age with hindsight, but in imaginary cinematic blockbuster Girl Zero it was the year when android slaves fought to the death in post-apocalyptic arenas. And Italian synth wizard Morretti, perhaps rarely seen in the same room as Grey Frequency‘s Gavin Morrow, provides a convincing mid-1980s soundtrack to the plight of gladiator Kerez. It’s terrific John Carpenter-style fun, and tracks like ‘An Endless Wasteland’ are hard to hear without imagining a robotic Adrienne Barbeau striding purposefully across piles of toxic rubble.

Album available here:

Undulating Waters 5
(Woodford Halse)

With his diligent curation of unreleased tracks from emerging artists and old favourites alike, Woodford Halse supremo Mat Handley is becoming the John Peel of the cassette circuit. Opening this new collection is Panamint Manse‘s ‘Saline Sands’, which will make grizzled Café del Mar veterans turn decidedly misty-eyed. Elsewhere there’s sinister synth-folk from Pefkin and a haunting, melancholy piano recital from Norway’s Benjamin Finger. Plus – excitingly – ‘A Nest Of Liars’, a lost track of dystopian terror from original 80s synth pioneers The Loved One.  

Album available here:

Tomorrow Again

Becky Jones‘ first album since 2014 feels intensely personal. “That time in Paris when we locked our love forever to that bridge / Do you think I’d find it now?” she sings, her pitch-perfect whisper expertly finding the spaces in sparse, electro-folk arrangements. ‘For My Love’ has banger qualities but the overall mood is sublimely wistful, with Badly Drawn Boy, Bill Ryder-Jones and Willy Mason all contributing perfect harmonies – the latter duetting on the gently doleful ‘Rock Pools’. Plaintive and fragile, she’s Stockton-on-Tees’ own Vashti Bunyan.

Album available here:

PULSE: Andy Fosberry

Who he? 

Grandson of a jazz pianist, one-time teenage drummer and prolific producer of epic synth soundtracks. Although new album When Comfort Is Stranger takes a more reflective, personal approach. “It was an album I felt I needed to make,” explains the Hampshire-based Fosberry. “The title came from thinking about how it’s often an alien concept to find comfort in this world right now.” The album’s elegant piano, off-kilter percussion and immersive electronica certainly combine to darkly beautiful effect.

Why Andy Fosberry?

Previously he’s recorded as Sunset Graves, but March’s Death Ship 2047 was released under his own name and was a thunderous homage to cult 1997 film Event Horizon. “I’ve been a fan of sci-fi and horror since I was a kid,” he explains. “True story: that album began as a serious pitch to Amazon to compose the score for their upcoming Event Horizon TV series. Evidently, I didn’t get the job…”

Tell us more…

When Comfort Is Stranger has a delicate, fragile track named after Lana Del Rey. “I have no idea what made me listen to ‘Norman Fucking Rockwell’ one day back in May,” he ponders. “But I did. Then I listened again. And again. Over this hot, weird summer, it’s woven itself into the fabric of my life. I listen to that album like walking through rooms of paintings and photographs.” Elsewhere, ‘H In A Circle’ samples Fosberry’s percussive crunching of a pill packet, and the elegiac ‘Plastic Ocean’ is a stately, mournful piano-led rumination on environmental disaster. Grim? Yes, he admits… “but I always try to find the beauty in that”. He’s succeeded.

Album available here:


Electronic Sound – “the house magazine for plugged in people everywhere” – is published monthly, and available here:


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