Clockwork Orchestra – Friends without Names (CD White Label Music)
Fantastic album by Dublin based Paul Mangan. More than once the synth whirlwinds got me carried back in time, to the early eighties and even further back. Although some of the track titles make references going as far back as the sixties; Strawberries and Blueberries and Talking to the Flowers could easily make you expect hippie-delusions, the music’s roots really start in the seventies. The playful psychedelica which sustains through several tracks makes quite a lot of references in style to the music from the Dutch band The Nits’ in which members who were playing were responsible for the experimental outings of Supersister. It is those typical progressive stylistic exercises getting kinda recycled with a contemporary shallowness, which is perfectly reflected in the anonymous names of Mangan’s friends (who are absent as this seems to be a 100% solo work).
The bedroom electronic weirdness on his first proper record, breathing the cold era atmosphere feel of early eighties, is hard to listen to without comparing it to the work Legendary Pink Dots released in new wave’s heydays, say Space Captain-era. Besides similarities with the adolescent electronic psychedelica of LPD’s music it is remarkable how Mangan’s voice comes dreadfully close to Ka-Spell’s vocal outings.
The waltz patterns recurring on a couple of tracks make a perfect match with the overall proggy textures “Friends without Names’ has. But beneath the layer of varnish of happiness lies a continuum that consists of highly personal fears, saturated with a typical cynicism, or sarcasm even. Tragedy never seems to be far away, and that is also what makes this record a good listen. PvdG.