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Metrovavan | Retrofitting (Darla)
Pity poor Retro. A dying beast, huddling for warmth around a lava lamp in a backwater of Camden, cursing the advent of decimalization and "modern music". In an attempt to make 60s tinged Moog Synthesiser gurglings more palatable for a modern audience, some of these retro types have stumbled upon "dance music". It's the new thing, you know. A breakbeat here and a 303 squelch there can do wonders for your career. Look at Beck: one minute Johnny Cash, the next, Prince. With the array of vintage synthesisers being tweaked here, it's clear that Scott 'Looper' Twynholm (a/k/a Metrovavan) shares an affinity with Money Mark, but, unlike the aforementioned organ grinder, the beats here sound a little bit dated, a little bit...retro. These recordings could be compared to the early 12"s of Alpine Stars, with their charming brand of 'Computer World' optimism, adopting a similar retro-futurist stance. The musical backdrops themselves are generally lush, with twinkling keyboards and Air-esque acoustic guitars dominating the proceedings. But the looped hip-hop style beats themselves sound a little too stale and obvious to propel the instrumentation to the laid back territories that they could easily inhabit. This disappointment aside, there is obviously a talented songsmith at large here, for amidst the quaint and quirky electronica, lies an understated and moving gem. The true heart of Metrovavan beats in the melancholy pop of I'm Glad I'm Not A Spaceman, where stately piano and lonely acoustic guitars support an endearing vocal melody, delivered in the arch and wounded style of Lawrence (Felt/Denim). This obvious highlight sounds effortless in comparison to the rather stilted nature of the bulk of the record, and one might hope that this direction would be explored further on subsequent releases.

Simon Berkovitch
November 2001

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