Sparkling is a technically-accomplished Scandanavian duo, and should not be confused with the German indie-pop band of the same name. This Sparkling concoct dark synthetic music, hypnotising and repelling. Not for the faint of hearted. Sparkling have cut their teeth in Copenhagen’s “small yet intense music scene” and rewarded us with an album fascinating in its uneasy flow of marching pop and off-the-rails synth.
Say Goodbye To The Ragged Tiger is a fantastic introduction to the style, content and preoccupations of the artist and the album. It is madness. There are moments that sound like The Clockwork Orange soundtrack, Bowie at his most strained and new wave at its most trippy. But venturing this far will soon be rewarded as the album plunges into darker, discordant, electronica. Blossom Blood is far more regimented but infinitely less catchy. Proof perhaps that Sparkling excel when let off the leash. The vocals of Carsten Mørch-Bentzen are strained and dark but hold the attention with pure honesty and passion. Fractions, their latest single, is a sentimental, pulsing number concerned with space, love, loss and the gaps in-between.
Sparkling is not the easiest band to get into but Fractions is undoubtedly a decent acid-test that transcends the artist. The fourth track, Now I’m None, sounds like Bowie’s The Next Day album performed by Dare–era Human League. But it quickly shakes off most glib comparisons as it descends into a climactic freak-out, somehow earned despite the short pop-song runtime. Flashlight Heart is where Jens Christian Madsen is able to exhibit his most 80s synth techniques whilst still maintaining a staple unsettling feel beneath the track.
Felonious, the final and title track of the album, is a complete contrast. Having cut a vaguely poppy synth path, and at times trudged through familiar ground, this finale gives Sparkling a chance to prove themselves as pioneers. Or at least as musicians daring to experiment. At first it’s a spacey, ethereal number, think Radiohead at their pining peak. Then comes the slow march of optimism, murky vocals wrapped in fascinating percussion and intermittent saxophone. Then suddenly, it’s as if the sky has fallen in, or the storm has passed. Soft bizarre closure and a inkling to experience the madness again.
European tour dates are to be announced soon so stay tuned. In an intimate venue with appropriate flair, Sparkling’s Felonious could prove to be a brilliant evening of electro-madness.