Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Agoria - Go Fast

The painfully slow and poorly concerted efforts of HMV and Royal Mail finally, somehow, conspired to have Agoria’s third studio album land on my doormat; so apologies if this is rather late.

Go Fast, I learnt upon opening my brown paper bag, is actually the soundtrack to a French indie film of the same name. How that got past me, I don’t know, but it posed a little problem. Having not seen the film, nor being able to find it anywhere to buy online, I felt reluctant to listen to the album if I couldn’t put it into context. But being the admirer of Agoria that I am, I also couldn’t bare to have his material lying around and not being heard.

Opening track ‘Tender Storm’ is a beautiful, intense composition. Ominous, ethereal vocals swirl around in the dark alongside dull, tribal beats and low-end synths. It’s a piece of music that plays on fear and curiosity, simultaneously warding you off and beckoning you forward; the perfect album starter. The following tracks are deep, slow burning and heavily influenced by Detroit (via a slight detour into bluesy guitar territory with 'Around the Corner') and not at all in your face, which is ironic considering the title.

Nearer the end, ‘Run, Run, Run’ alludes to Plastikman’s ‘Spastik’ but turns into something far less frenetic and remarkably organic sounding, and through slight of hand turns itself into a heavy breaks track that harks just a little bit back to the 90s. Closing track ‘Diva Drive’ is the most dancefloor friendly; a bumping, minimal techno cut that constantly evolves and teeters close to the edge of hedonism, bringing around an about turn in the mood of the album and perhaps hinting at some kind of reconciliation in the film?

Go Fast is remarkably different to Sebastien Devaud’s previous artistic efforts, Blossom and The Green Armchair, which were a lot ‘harsher’ in a Vitalic vein. Rather, Go Fast is more akin to his fabled DJ sets, which indulge in his passion for Detroit and jazz and are a bit more noodly, but despite the fantastic opener and strong finish, everything in between seems to lack any raison d’etre.

Clearly, obviously, this album is supposed to soundtrack something and from the sense of emptiness you can’t help but think about the film and what story it scores, but it does little to suggest anything insightful. A great deal of the album feels like a ship bereft of its captain, floating around in the doldrums with no distinct course to follow.

However, taken away from the home stereo and transported to the soulless, clacking commute of a train speeding through bleak Birmingham landscapes, with the rain zipping past windows and grey clouds crawling in the ever darkening sky, Go Fast takes on a life of its own - my life in fact - weeding out those trains of thought (no pun intended) and complex emotions we often dwell on when doing something as mind numbing as commuting.

Unfortunately, I’m not in the mood for riding trains to Birmingham, or other concrete monstrosities for that matter, just for the pleasure of listening to a particular album. At home, away from any kind of narrative, it just feels like it’s soundtracking a forgotten past, when in fact it’s major strength is in soundtracking the present, whether it’s a drab train trip or something more exciting. No doubt, if I were to see the film then listen again the album would take on a new meaning, but most of it still feels a bit empty and rather unsuitable for home listening.

Maybe I shouldn’t have opened it after all?


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