Theodore And Hamblin - The Scientific Contrast
George Bass 23/04/2007
Theodore And Hamblin are the latest dynamic duo to slide down the batpoles of the German electronica circuit, sneaking themselves into the glitchy hinterland of the chill-out room with their debut album on the Moteer imprint. Twelve tracks squeezed into forty minutes is the only concession to pop etiquette the twosome make on The Scientific Contrast, and while they elect to dish up more of a sonic salad cart than a balls-out five-course spread, they go about fine-tuning what they emit with the zeal of a debonair radio ham. Balmpe runs a wonky stylus over some migrainey lobes of bass before promptly morphing into jangling windchimes, while Pelume adds a Mr. Sheen shininess to their low-brow synthetic mantle by letting a weblike melody cool down till it glistens with computerised dew. Despite the arty subscript, you don't have to get too far into the record to start questioning the ambiguity of its title, as a fair few of the component elements seem almost indistinguishable from one another. That's not necessarily an outright flaw, though, and in many places it sounds something like the long-lost sophomore LP that E*Vax has been finishing off for the last six years. Things even get a bit hectic on Hernd, which Trans-Ams along like chalk-and-cheese TV detectives on a midmorning caffeine jag and then crashes into some New Age dolphinisms. Perhaps it's not just condiments that these two can bring to the table after all. They're generally keen to stick to their sonar doodling and Ceefax hiccups for the most part, all in all, and do a good enough job of mimicking Proem at his most content with happy-ever-after endpiece Kule, working some beachfront warm into their brittle flutters. You hum it, I'll sing it.
Theodore And Hamblin's debut shows they pretty much know how to tie a lasso to fit your attention - they just need to work on their ability to throw it. The fingertight restraint they exercise over their music means you get the feeling things are a bit out of scale, like looking at a landscape reflected in a visor, and the way their vivid imagination is undercut by an anaesthetised delivery, the worse case scenario could be that The Scientific Contrast ends up serving as a fetus-placating alternative to whalesong, or something spiritualist dullards use to neuter themselves. However, the songwriting ‐ when you can find it ‐ isn't excessively tacit, and while there's undoubtedly a defecit of the big-screen cinemascope that makes their compatriots so arresting, there's nevertheless something here that sticks. Put it this way: if you're looking to remake Silent Running and are vying up contenders for the soundtrack register, these two should be top of your checklist.