Pop: The NX big thing
Saturday 22 November 1997
Add N to X are among this year's new arrivals in Krautrock electronica, and their presence is most welcome, given that their way with a Moog is freakier and cheekier than most. Their minds work too feverishly for them to be mindless Tortoise or Stereolab wannabes, lost in snoozy prog workouts. The band are Steve Claydon - a graduate student at St Martin's College - Barry Smith and Ann Shenton. Their name is a cybernetic formula in computer dictionary speak, used to create something called a "third force". They go about the business of making music like mad boffins, and the results are a sort of 1950s sci-fi kitsch meets synth rock armageddon, a sensual overload.
The new single "King Wasp" wallows in a sleazy ambience that puts you in mind of leather fetish parties and trashy teen-orientated 1950s B-movies, while the flipside "Hit Me" is a dense collage of frantic beats; a dark, hyperactive melody that reaches successive hysterical climaxes with the help of a whining theramin. This is the sound of low culture, pulp fiction sensuality rewired by the avant-garde, curious about everything.
Not everyone can stick it: some departed early from their ICA show a few months back, unable to handle the assault of sounds. And in Paris, they provided the music for an exclusive fashion show by Balenciaga, only for many of the fashion world's top brass including the editor of French Vogue - to flee horrified, fingers in ears. To create melodic bedlam, Add N to X have been collecting junkyard instruments - keyboards, synths, drums - to create a soundscape of thrills that vibrate tunefully, but without mercy. The title of their September album, On The Wires Of Our Nerves seems quite appropriate.
They are the highlight of a night of bands on the Satellite Record label. Scott 4 mangle country-rock and dabble in Germanic synthery in their new single "Deutche LP". And completing the bill is Chris Bowden, who has jazz, soul, techno and hip hop in his repertoire. He gained acclaim last year with his Time Capsule LP and recorded the single "Hero" with 4 Hero. All in all, this promises to be a cut above the average, but not for the faint-hearted.
Add N to X play Islington Union Chapel (0171-226 1686) tonight
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
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