The Swedish Railway Orchestra
Credit: Rob Smith

The Swedish Railway Orchestra – Dance To The Drum Machine (Blowtorch Records)

Dance To The Drum Machine is the new album from The Swedish Railway Orchestra. It will be released digitally and on vinyl via Blowtorch Records on July 27th 2022 and follows The Past is Unpredictable: Select Electronic Recordings 2015 – 2021 which showcased the instrumental highlights of the project over the last five years. The Swedish Railway Orchestra is the brainchild of Dublin based musician, DJ and producer Rob Smith.

The album begins with previous single ‘The Ballhaus‘, a brooding piece of electronica with a light vocal overlain on the top. The deft synth also adds a lightness bobbing along with a beat consistent throughout the track. Smith expands on the origins of the song:
“’The Ballhaus’ was actually one of the first songs I recorded as The Swedish Railway Orchestra and, at the time, I never released it anywhere and only showed it to a few friends. It was an instrumental piece, as were all the very first tracks. I revisited it around a year ago, added some vocals to the piece, mixed it a touch better and, hey presto, the finished product is a fine song.”

We Go Like This‘ takes the beats up a notch. The initially repeating vocal and the added layer of static filled synths create an increasingly energetic vibe. This continues to slowly wind up with the vocals increasingly echoey and the beats getting stronger until it all falls away at the end. ‘Fallen Devil’ was one of the three singles from this album. For anyone who is currently enjoying Regressive Left‘s EP On the Wrong Side of History, ‘Fallen Devil’ will sit very nicely in that dancefloor orientated electronica with its drumbeats and percussive repetition, surely executed with getting your body moving.

Smith expands on the creation of the album: “It’s the Swedish Railway Orchestra record I had the most fun making. I felt on the previous album, the self-titled third one, I put myself under pressure that I had to make a great album. This time around I felt more loose about it and the result feels like more of an album ideal to play at parties.” 

Stop Acting Like Bill Drummond‘ is one of the highlights on Dance to the Drum Machine. There is a narrative to the lyrics and in addition the music is more complex, speedier and perhaps more instantly accessible. “But he’s sucking marrow from the dead man’s bone. Imposter syndrome’s a terrible thing though”. I was intrigued by the dialogue at the end! Is this actually Bill Drummond before Smith responds?

Both ‘Mother’s Little Helper‘ and ‘In League with the Devil‘ return to a slower paced consistent repetitive beat and vocal albeit with different atmospheres, the latter being much crisper with a lighter touch. Title track ‘Dance To The Drum Machine’ does not disappoint and is another highlight. “If you can walk, then you can dance. If you can walk then you should dance” sings Smith. Similar to ‘Stop Acting Like Bill Drummond’‘ the urge to dance will be undeniable and resistance will be futile. ‘Go‘ is the third of the singles already released from this album and opens with traditional drum beats before the synth quickly kicks in. Rattling along at pace, its cries of ‘Go’ only add to its energy. However it’s a teaser of a track as at only 1 minute and 40 seconds it seems to finish well before its time, with the listener wanting more.

Dance To The Drum Machine closes out with a one minute reprise of ‘In League with the Devil’, with funky cowbells seeing out this fine album. Its good to know that perhaps Smith is in league with the devil if the result is electronic music of such high quality.

There is a launch party on July 27 in Galway at 8.30pm in Áras na nGael, Dominick Street with full album play through and DJ set from Rob.

For more information on The Swedish Railway Orchestra please check out their facebook and twitter.

Dance to the Drum Machine is available from 27 July via Blowtorch Records and can be ordered here.

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