This ‘British IBM’ article was written by Cornelia Papiez, a GIGsoup contributor
The unnerving crackling as a steady beat begins to form in the opening moments of The British IBM’s latest offering, proves to be a precursor for the rest of the album. Psychopaths Dream In Black and White, straddles the organic and the impassive with lithe and dexterous charm. This interesting juxtaposition between the fresh, visceral melodies and the dark yet restrained lyrics, create subtle tensions that are threaded intricately throughout the music.
“The new record is an emotional album about unemotional people.” Says front man Adrian Killens, putting his finger perfectly on the two main themes that are found within the songs. There is an openness to the music, many of the sounds seeping from folk-dusted acoustics and lush string arrangements, though nothing threatens to overpower. The sensations you feel as the music plays, are similar to standing outside on a cool summer evening. The casual listener is in danger of merely noting the airy melodies on offer – a suitable sonic setting for the time of year, however, this album offers more than that. When investing time, when listening deeper, you are rewarded with an unsettling experience; the subtly sinister undertones adding unusual depths to the sounds. This is particularly evident as you listen closely to the lyrics. On the fifth track (Tread Carefully), the softness of the music and the tranquillity voices are soon offset by the threatening nature of the words, “tread carefully, because I’m more capable than you.” The calm nature of the delivery making the atmosphere all the more disturbing.
There are moments when you feel that the songs could be pushed further, occasionally failing to capitalise on the delicate struggles between cold and warmth that the whole experience centres upon. Nothing Ever Lasts That Long, the halfway point of the album, epitomises this central flaw. There are exquisite elements here, the pensive lyrics and vocals rub beautifully against the fluid sonic grooves. Though no sooner than the listener is drawn in, pining for more and willing the music to go further, the track ends, and you are left feeling rather unfulfilled. It is as though there are areas that have been left unexplored. If some ideas were fleshed out and expanded upon, you get the feeling that there would been some truly thrilling moments.
Even though the record frustratingly doesn’t always meet the potential that is hinted at, the high points do make impact. The stand out track, Nothing, encapsulates perfectly the unsettling tensions that the album attempts to deliver. The deliciously cold vocal delivery bristles against the infectious pulsing of the drums, lulling the listener into a dream-like state as the repetitive thrum of a guitar hook carries the song forwards.
The noticeable omission of any real sense of climax, perhaps suits the album’s central theme of emotional numbness, but falls short of delivering anything spectacular. That said, the quietly palpable pressures of dark and light, melded with beautifully organic melodies, make this a record that is worth listening to.
‘Psychopaths Dream In Black and White’ is due for a 4th September 2015 release