Following up the rather successful debut album, Mind the Gap, Belgium’s Metroland returns with a concept EP that continues the trend of movement and travel inspired work. While Mind the Gap focused its sights on the London Underground, the Thalys EP is inspired more by international high speed rail travel and the railway company that facilitates that adventure.
Kicking off with the title track, “Thalys,” Metroland’s vintage sound is in full effect. Still heavily channeling the work of Kraftwerk, Metroland has taken the current “Trans Europe Express” as its inspiration and the retro techo/pop style has injected a sense of wonder and adventure in the work. With smooth, complex synth, heavily distorted and robotic sounding vocals, and periodic samples from the train system itself, the song vividly conjures the imagery of travel. “From Station to Station” subtly incorporates elements of “Thalys,” but takes on a slightly darker, more frenetic and urgent sound. The tracks complement each other well and make for a pleasant and epic combination. While the seven tracks of the album are all variations on these first two, the various mixes and edits offer enough variety to keep things interesting, but the shared traits do tend to make things blend together. A few more original tracks would have helped keep things a bit fresher, but the EP still offers plenty of interesting twists and turns.
With five different versions of the EP, including the full digital release, three language specific versions for the destinations of Paris, London, and Düsseldorf, as well as a deluxe vinyl 12-inch package, what started as a small idea definitely snowballed thematically, but Metroland is definitely carving out an interesting little niche for itself with music inspired by human locomotion. The music expertly captures a kinetic energy and suggests a sense of wonder and excitement should belong to travel, even though many see it as mundane. With the scale going somewhat wider than the previous album, Thalys makes a nice companion piece to Mind the Gap, but one has to wonder how much further Metroland can take the travel theme. Sadly, with the death of Metroland’s Louis Zachert – a.k.a. Passenger L – it’s difficult to say if we’ll ever know.
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Website, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Bandcamp
Bandcamp (Full EP)
Bandcamp (Paris Edition)
Bandcamp (London Edition)
Bandcamp (Düsseldorf Edition)
Trubie Turner (Flexei)