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Printed Circuit / Figurine | Acrobotics / The Discard EP (555 Recordings)
Welcome to the March of the Disco Robots... Call it Electroclash, call it the Nu-Wave of Electro, call it whatever the hell you like. It's been lurking under the pulsebeat for a couple of years, but now its damn near everywhere you look. Fischerspooner on the cover of the NME; innumerable spreads in style magazines focusing on the burgeoning New York Nu-Wave scene; a seemingly endless stream of new electro-influenced compilations, featuring both contemporary wannabes and original has-beens; tribute albums to the Human League and star-studded reunion tours featuring blahblah and blah. For Christ's sake! Now the spotlight turns to 555 Recordings (formerly of Leeds, though now seemingly of Philadelphia). 555 Recordings have been merrily putting out records for the best part of a decade now; considered by some, myself included, as one of the finest British labels around. They have, together with Static Caravan, long been a prominent and important figure on the indie/post-rock/electronica/whatever scene. Over the years putting out some veritable gems - stuff by Hood, The Remote Viewer and Kid 606 to name but a few. However, where once they clearly saw the light, it seems of late, its all gone sort of dark. Sadly these two releases are not the requisite torchbearers. For both are reflective of all that is lacking with this current trend, churning out as they do, nothing but dull, boring pastiches laced with a Hi-Karate splash of irony.

Printed Circuit is Claire Broadley and 'Acrobotics' is 5 tracks of uninspired electronic pop and 80s kitsch, weighted with such oh, so witty titles as Robophobic and Blinken Lights. Admittedly, the opening Act Robotic is both catchy and fun - like an eight-year-old kid high on candy and Coke doing karaoke Kraftwerk. But therein lies the problem. Whilst this longs to bring the electro classics into a contemporary context it fails to offer anything new and thus ends up sounding merely like a poor version of its influences. And this is what so many in this scene just don't seem to grasp. Kraftwerk were and remain quite awesome. Tracks like Computer Love and The Robots still sound fantastic today and, as is the wont of timeless classics, always will. So why try to imitate? After all what is this? Stars In Their Fucking Eyes? And even if you ignore the whole Kraftwerk thing you've still got such heavyweights as Model 500, Anthony Rother and of course the mighty (and recently re-released) 'Space Invaders Smoking Grass' by I-F to contend with, so, you know, why bother, man?
Figurine - on the other hand - do the whole boy/girl, Human League thing. I don't know whether they've got the haircuts but... On paper this really should work, being as it is a remix project featuring such luminaries as Isan, Sutekh and Rechenzentrum. Only it just doesn't cut it. I have to admit that I am unfamiliar with the originals (from the 'acclaimed' 2nd album 'The Heartfelt' apparently) and am therefore unable to say whether these versions are an improvement or even drastically different. I can however tell you that tracks 5-56 contain the sound sources from whence the remixes originated. So if, like the reviewer, you are not wholly satisfied with your lot, you can (theoretically) do something about it. Or if you can't be bothered, again like the reviewer, you could just rest easy in the knowledge that by the time you read this, all this Electroclash malarkey will, like the football, be well and truly over. (Hoxton, so much to answer for).

Graham Sefton
August 2002