Imagine walking through an electronic music exhibition that charts the history of the technology-influenced genre by displaying its evolutionary equipment and pioneering artists. Now let’s hypothetically say that the organisers are also secretly spraying hallucionegic steam through the vents inside the audiotoriums that make the public drowsy and so off their heads that are easily susceptible to join a cult .
That sensory scenerio could be felt when listening to Canadian project Freak Heat Waves‘ new album Zap The Planet. Which the title alone sounds like an alien instruction. This is because Steven Lind and Thomas Di Ninno’s second album as a duo (fourth overall) is heavily influenced by electronic music throughout the decades, and uses MIDI and analog synthesisers to create a timeless ode to the genre. Hear the sparkling Yellow Magic Orchestra keyboards and rigid Kraftwerk robotics on ‘Busted’, the stuttering New Order drum machine on ‘Dripping Visions’ and the cold ghostly Fatima Al Qadri synths on opener ‘Off Axis‘ .
Furthermore, Album highlight ‘Let It Go‘ is a pick-and-mix of production tricks. Initially sounding like Art Of Noise doing a rendition of ‘Crocketts Theme‘, there is a great use of artificial pan pipes, record scratching, The Cure drums and French samples with psychedelic wooziness.
But it’s the vocals of Steven Lind that make the group stand out. Like blending Nick Cave and Sebastian Tellier, his slurring stretched-out pronunciation may divide opinion but it gives the duo a distinctive identity over the heavily-influenced music and gives Zap The Planet this hypnotic and soporific quality.
Lind comes across as a hedonistic guru looking for new recruits to his spiritual practice and Freak Heat Waves’ music being part a key component in the initation ceremony. “You are not drowning in your light. I know you’re scared to be alone. It’s alright to let it go, for me it’s good. / I got a glimpse of you. Is there a way to lock out and fix you from creeping in under my skin? ” The repetitive loop of tribal rhythms and siren swirls on the aforementioned ‘Dripping Visions‘ that are synchronised beautifully with the vocals make it the most tranquilizing experience on the LP and the most efficient use of Lind’s vocal ability. It can be equally sleep-inducing and goosebump-producing but he’s not omnipresent, Freak Heat Waves have instrumental tracks such as the bouncy but monotonous ‘Something Fresh‘ that could be the theme to a medical drama.
Freak Heat Waves end Zap The Planet beautifully with ‘Nothing Lasts Forever‘ in which the group create a chill out atmosphere through the use of subtle Gregorian chants, snippets of percussion that sound like a woman gasping, plucks of melodic guitar and a cloudy pressing of heavenly synth. It’s as if the gates to a godly awakening are opening. If this is a record that’s mission is to brainwash us to joining an electronic music cult paradise, then…count me in!