(Upset The Rhythm, out Fri 8 Jun 2018)
“Choose Life” has been a mainstay message since Wham’s positive slogan first appeared on George Michael’s white t-shirt during the 1980 film shoot for Wake Me Up (Before You Go-Go). This was then loaned to Danny Boyle’s iconic Trainspotting film with a very different outlook to what the message meant, before finally moving away from Edinburgh and travelling up the M8 motorway into Glasgow.
Founder of Night School Records, Michael Kasparis, has nailed his take on what it means. Kasparis flies under the moniker Apostille, and has produced an album which undergoes several metamorphoses seeking to find light from the darkest corners of the human psyche.
Opener Fly With The Dolphin is a cavalcade of electro-disco, full of avant-garde synthesisers affected by mania, and leads into the simpler electric currents of Feel Bad. Using a four-bar chorus repeating “You never quite get the dirt out your hair”, Apostille’s punky framework and frustrations are clear and create an irritated pop earworm for the listener.
This unfortunately trips the record up lyrically at times. Lo-fi, short statements become a repetitive hazard during tracks like In Control, while intonation on both Hanging On and Without Me sound suspiciously off. But it would be churlish to always expect lyrical brilliance from what is an electronic record, and there are moments of true beauty in Metronomy-esque sounds and disco-beats on both these tracks, with the latter’s leaden bass especially appealing.
Apostille has some highly fresh vibrations rumbling beneath his fidgety synths and swirling reverb. This all allows a distorted mess to gel together into various shapes and cogent dance music. Both The Mordant and Thirteen Minutes are experimental and bewildering beauties, before the drum n’ bass, sampled soundbites of title track Choose Life, which owes more than a nod to late 90s EDM.
This record both provokes and pacifies. The bitterness in the message is tempered by the hope of its sound. Perhaps “Chews Life” would have been a more apt title.