Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Travelogue (6/8)

I know! I know! I wrote this one with one of the worst hangovers I've ever had, so sorry, it's a bit sketchy...

Who: The Human League
What: Travelogue
When: May 1980

Travelogue sounds like people who know how to play synths, doing just that. And I love me some synths. Which is good, since the album states proudly, right after the title and band name, that it "contains synthesizers + vocals only". They’re not kidding. This is only their second album. They would split up after this album, 2 members leaving to form Heaven 17, and 2 to try to continue with a more pop oriented, new Human League lineup. Already, the synth textures and vocal on this indicate a pop leaning, but the tone remains quite dark and solemn, recalling, at times, bits of Kraftwerk.

It starts (as I always do) at the very beginning, with The Black Hit Of Space, from what I can tell, a song about a record about Buck Rodgers. It’s dark and paranoid, and a bit full on. Dreams of Leaving, on the other hand, is a bit more minimalist, save for the intense synth noise that comes in right before the first verse. It builds up and then breaks down for about 6 minutes in total, turning into a bass groove, and introducing a synth wash into the second verse.

Gordon's Gin is good fun. I love a song about booze, me, and this song is an instrumental synth version of a jingle written by Jeff Wayne for the titular brand of gin. It takes the triumphant heralding of the original and turns it into a delightfully dark synthy warning against it. Tom Baker takes it to another level, and is a truly good instrumental synth exploration. Plus, anything that references Dr Who is ok with me.

Crow and a Baby is quite weird, but I liked it, and besides, weirder still was the covers medley of Rock’n’Roll/Nightclubbing, pairing, you guessed it Gary Glitter's Rock 'n' Roll and Iggy Pop's Nightclubbing. Unfortunately, it doesn’t actually do too much, so something that one thinks could only have been the best thing ever or the worst, turns out to be neither, it’s in fact just meh.

So an overall underwhelming, but a fitting, and perfectly enjoyable second album.

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