The two extremes of the types of CDs that we get here at Treble can be the most exciting and adventurous ones. At one end of the spectrum is the CD that every writer wants. Whether it’s the sophomore Franz Ferdinand album or the debut from Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, its pretty much guaranteed that more than one of the Treble staff writers has tried to put an electronic post-it on there, like someone claiming to have called “shotgun” first. (By the way, the real rule is that you have to be able to see the car before you can call it). At the other end of the spectrum are the CDs that have come unsolicited, sometimes from the band or artist themselves, and sometimes from a friend of a friend of a friend. These can either be the most distressing or the most rewarding. In the case of Seattle band Infomatik, I find myself firmly in the latter description, coming to the realization that the album Technologies will probably not leave my CD case for some time.
With the death of Ian Curtis, Joy Division made the slow transformation from arty post-punk to electronic alt-pop dance music, the two forever separated by an unfortunate incident. One could never wonder what would happen had the two styles been allowed to blend together, until now. Infomatik is equal parts of both bands, sometimes with a little Thompson Twins or Oingo Boingo thrown in, as with “The Mechanical Bride.” Ben Larson’s bass is sometimes indistinguishable from Hooky’s, while the shared vocals distance themselves from previous acts, and Geoff Gardner’s keyboards recall the new wave explosion at its peak.
The first three tracks kept me in such rapt attention that I barely noticed the distance traveled on I-5 north of Seattle until I was nearly at my destination. But it was the rest of the album that then upped the ante. Besides “The Mechanical Bride,” other standout tracks include “Sleeping Pill,” “Further Away,” and closer “Parasol.” All tend to both embody and defy the genres they take from all at the same time.
One might get the wrong impression based on the comparisons that Infomatik shares more in common with the Killers, the Bravery and Interpol. That’s not really close to the mark. Whereas the Killers and the Bravery both borrow from the 80’s synth pop revolution, the songs and attitude seem to be hollow, empty stylish suits meticulously imitating their predecessors. Interpol have more substance, but are more similar to Joy Division in terms of not only voice, but in an overall slick package. Infomatik gets down the mood better than any other band I’ve yet heard. There is something tangibly and emotionally heavy about Technologies, just as there was for nearly every Joy Division album. But at times, the band captures the dance whimsy of its later incarnation, after Bernard Sumner took over and they became “Touched by the Hand of God.” Who’d have ever thought, except now in the case of a `mash-up,’ that we’d hear the two influences together? This is one of the first times I feel like I should be thanking the band for sending me the CD rather than vice versa for the press.
Joy Division- Still
New Order- Technique