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CD Feature/ Vector Lovers: "Ping Pong"

img  Tobias

There is nothing but a fine line between the seductive sequences of colourful club tunes and the dreamy embrace of electronic pop. Unlike most, Martin Wheeler is actually bridging it. His Vector Lover’s project has manifested a completely convincing style between track and song, sound and structure as well as between melancholic torpor and merciless thrust. For a man who thinks so much in melody, harmony, verse and chorus, the connection with techno’s 12’’ culture may seem odd, but his ceaseless creative chuzpe in combining them with crunching kick drums and hissing hihats has never once seemed out of place.

On “Ping Pong”, released with his long-time supporters, friends and fans of Glasgow’s Soma Records, he is again playing the game with two rackets at the same time. The title track is an epic electronic symphony, stretching to nine minutes and folding in on itself by means of clever thematic development and recognisable recapitulations. Its first few seconds sound like an ominous quote from Tangerine Dream’s 1975 “Krautrock”-classic “Rubycon”: Darkly glowing fenlights flash morbid morse code in surreal slow motion, as if guiding an alien spaceship to a safe airfield. What follows, however, is perfectly human and of brooding magneticism.

Wheeler repeatedly recombines or rearranges the same elements, jumping ecstatically between Electro, Techno, House and Trance. A descending four-chord progression and an elastic bass, flexing its muscles at strategically selected moments bind various episodes of hymnical denomination and hypnotic density together into a single, fluent gesture. It takes a little while to get into the groove, but around the five-minute mark, the pieces of the puzzle suddenly start falling into place, locking the listener tightly into a vociferous vortex of sound.

“Pin Tweaks” rotates in pulsating, psychoactive ellipses, like Steve Reich on acid. Again and again, the rhythmic emphasis changes, while opaque melodies of glassy composition float weightlessly and wondrously like black mass through Einstein’ean ether. Closer “Reminisce” initially seems to grow into an equally complex structure. Cinematic and sensously symbolic, it however simply stays put instead, singing itself to sleep in an oneiric loop of chimes, gently rolling beats and sweet harmonic bliss.

Each piece works as a sound space of its own, yet together they constitute a collection of concisely realised ideas. Even though the material is definitely danceable and defined by undaunting four-to-the-floor action and a propulsive production, it is Martin Wheeler’s highly musical way of moulding his minimalistic motives, which renders them suitable for late-night listening at home as well. If you thought this’d be great food for an exciting album of pearly electronic pop: Wheeler is currently busy with writing an album of love songs.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Vector Lovers
Homepage: Soma Records

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