Oct 2012 01

Radium 88 - Escaping TomorrowRadium 88
Category: Experimental
Album: Escaping Tomorrow
Stars: 4
Blurb: Ambient electro takes on acoustic instruments for a cerebral juxtaposition of the real and the surreal.


In an era of laptop computer one-man shows and “in the box” recording, it is fresh and revitalizing as ever to hear the sounds of real instruments being played. On the band’s third full-length album since 2007, Radium 88 delivers just this, the tones of an eclectic group of instruments being utilized to broaden your horizons.

Radium 88 serves as a sort of Dada-esque musical experience/experiment. The backgrounds of its main players are deliberately obfuscated by the surrealistic biographies found on the band’s webpage. What we do know is that Escaping Tomorrow was arranged by band member Tim Thwaites, who also provides the album with its accordion and ukulele as well as some more conventional instruments. Within the songs on Escaping Tomorrow you will also find cornet, low whistle contributed by Mike Clifford, and “the voice of reason” by Nik Hewitt.

Radium 88 takes these elements and weaves them seamlessly into down-tempo electronica. The sonic vistas they explore are distinctly acid-trippy without taking on the residue of the groovy ‘60s left to us by caricature. At times, the presence of such niche acoustic instruments juxtaposed with the rhythmic loops of contemporary electronica can infer what some might try to claim as part of the nebulous steampunk movement, and with song titles like “How the West Was,” “A Short Ride in a Broken Machine,” and “The Unerring Certainty of Mechanism,” Radium 88 seems to be inviting the association. But in the end, Radium 88’s sound is essentially English. Even without overt references to cult sci-fi or Oxford literature, the music presents itself in a voice that will resonate with the anglophile. The work engages the listener on a cerebral and challenging level sometimes getting in the way of visceral, aural enjoyment.

The production on Escaping Tomorrow is outstanding. The stereo field is active and alive. The mixing is professional, finding space for each sound element to occupy. The acoustic instruments seem to have been recorded by skilled engineers in a professional manner. The haunting vocal styling of Jema Davies and Clare Hunt create an almost recurring motif that strings the songs into an album. Altogether, Escaping Tomorrow is a great listen for those feeling burned by the lack of depth in contemporary electro, looking for a challenging, thoughtful listen.
Track list:

  1. How the West Was
  2. Leave No Stone Unturned
  3. A Short Ride in a Broken Machine
  4. Nocturne 3
  5. The Unerring Certainty of Mechanism
  6. The Irretrievable Loss of Personal Belonging
  7. Lady of Perpetual Motion
  8. Still Separated by Oceans
  9. The Angel of Final Warning
  10. The Man Who Was Not Himself
  11. A Matter of Love and Death
  12. Monsters Seen in Mirrors
  13. Founder or Else Float
  14. And Then She Saw Tears

Radium 88 Website http://www.radium88.net
Radium 88 MySpace http://www.myspace.com/theradium88
Radium 88 Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Radium-88/300812459944304
Radium 88 SoundCloud http://soundcloud.com/radium88
Lotek Recordings
Purchase at:
Amazon CD
Amazon MP3
Brendan Leonard (vonruthven)

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