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It’s always a worry when I arrive for reviewing day and am presented with a potential Album of the Week without having heard it. The Focus Group’s previous effort was the collaboration with Broadcast that I ‘couldn’t get into’ but was a massive hit with other ears within this establishment. The Focus Group is the brainchild of James House, graphic designer to the &lsq ...

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CD £9.99 GBX018CD

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REVIEWS

Elektrik Karousel by The Focus Group
1 review. Write a review for us »
8/10 Clinton Staff review, 17 May 2013

It’s always a worry when I arrive for reviewing day and am presented with a potential Album of the Week without having heard it. The Focus Group’s previous effort was the collaboration with Broadcast that I ‘couldn’t get into’ but was a massive hit with other ears within this establishment. The Focus Group is the brainchild of James House, graphic designer to the ‘stars’ (Stereolab, Broadcast, Primal Scream and...er Oasis).

The words graphic designer and musical offshoot put together usually fill me with a certain fear as they often result in clinical, sterile records that probably look better sketched out on imac than they are to listen to. Thankfully this is the complete opposite - although the press release suggests the music mirrors his design work, if his graphic work for Oasis reflected this album then Liam’s head would be a satsuma, the ‘O’ in Oasis would be replaced by a hundred tiny mice and the sleeve would be made out of a lava lamp. What I’m trying to say is that it’s all over the bloody place, the seemingly scattershot approach to music making is akin to taking a BBC Radiophonic workshop album, tearing it into a hundred pieces, throwing it up in the air and taping the results.

It makes for a disorientating but mind-blowing listen. Sometimes shards of brilliant melody enter the fray only to be discarded after 30 seconds, tracks often dissolve into a sea of ‘60s reverb. Everything sparkles beautifully, it’s integrated with a kind of ‘60s chaos element. Things squiggle, wibble and squeak in all the wrong (right?) places, theres a topsy turvy magical Lewis Carroll element to it, married with a kind of chopped ‘60s psych bonkers pop.  Fans of The United States of America and White Noise are urged to listen to surely what is their most accurate modern day equivalent. Although never really containing any proper ‘songs’ as such, it’s a lot more tuneful and musical than that Broadcast collab and is probably the reason I like it much more despite occasionally feeling just the little bit seasick.

The title kind of sums up the record. If you imagine what a record called ‘Elektrik Karousel’ sounded like then you surely wouldn’t be far off. Ghost Box already have an obsessive nostalgia loving fan base so it will already sell in droves but I think this record will appeal to an even broader range of inquisitive minds.


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