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Strobes are a band with serious pedigree when it comes to seriously complex music: the members have performed with Three Trapped Tigers, Troyka and Squarepusher no less. Their debut album Brokespeak is a super-mathy work, like a mass of interlocking sonic fractals that nevertheless have grooves at their base. A frantic listen for sure. Out on Blood and Biscuits.

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Brokespeak by Strobes
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7/10 Laurie Staff review, 02 November 2016

Ooh well it’s not every day that I get to review some maths now, is it? At least, this is as close to math as we’re gonna get here at Norman Records. Yes, it’s got the twiddly guitar lines and the odd time signatures and brain melting structural and instrumental complexity. But this isn’t Enemies, and believe it or not, it’s not just another Vessels.

Strobes have two keyboardist/synthsters and one drummer. Well, one of the keys guys (the one from the very similar Three Trapped Tigers) alternates between guitar and synth, but as a whole, they don’t go for the whole ‘rock’ thing a huge amount. This is pretty much a fusion band in electronica’s clothing. They utilise the dissonance of Red era King Crimson but play the noodly freakouts of groups like Mahavishnu Orchestra but surrounded by the glossy sounds of today’s synths. If Mahavishnu all played keytar? Yeah, that.

It’s only just sitting on the boundary between needless virtuosity and tasteful playing, as the King Crimson comparison should have tipped you off to. It’s also slightly hilarious to hear a loud, unfiltered synth do a big ‘blarrrg’ all over a guitar’s nimble but cute shredding. But the jazzier elements are actually its saving, with surreal takes on loungier music cropping up left right and centre. Not bad.



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