D_Rradio - D_Rradio

George Bass 24/03/2008

Rating: 4.5/5

Merging four-plus genres across just fifty-one minutes of airtime is a task for rock steady hands, and Geordie trio Death Row Radio can thrust six into the mix, mashing buttons with the Temazepam precision of a sniper on Hungry Hippos. Having already garnered backslaps from the likes of AngryApe, John Peel and the Wire, Dee Are Radio (preferred pronunciation) have emerged from a three-year stint in the studio to unveil their sophomore LP - a record whose spectral cover art doesn't quite prepare you for the rush of hybrid futurism it holds in its grooves. Run Over Your Granny Because It's Violent indeed.

If the global consensus of cutting-edge electronic music is calculus graduates writing garbled binary passwords, D_Rradio seem Saville Row-suited to invert the public's opinion. On each of their ten servings here, they hijack the po-faced brow-knotting of current digital noodling and manage for the most part to sound like Autechre refueled on Um Bungo instead of green tea in conical flasks. Rest Of Your Life mimics someone completing Mario Allstars alone on a desert island -- think Crystal Castles saying sorry to Trevor Brown -- while the luminous chill of Lifted takes you as far from the Lighthouse Family as nautically possible, somewhere beyond the remains of the Exxon Valdez to a place where synths and sitars swell merrily together. While they're busy doing that, they also manage to retain a post-rock integrity in the seriousness of their songwriting, and program it into their structures to maintain a frenetic but palletable direction. Way Out, for example, blasts Greg Haines orchestrals with beatbox ballistics, the trigger kept pinned until a vintage Godspeed melody takes shape, and Blow Out sees them juggle strings quivering like magnets with a Mogwai Fear Satan fluteline. There's a lot more to these boys than just Gameboys and GarageBand.

Perhaps D_Rradio's most appealing factor is its ability to morph from one sound to another within its own freehand boundaries; a clear insurance against the fatigue that befalls a lot of experimental electronica. One minute it soars like Xela on a draft of helium, the next it's all funk and glitches; someone decompressing the eighties at high altitude. By and large, its three authors do a fine job of draping their rainbow cobwebs over some fidgety trip-hop chassis, and the effort and technical competence they pour into this release makes it glisten at every turn, gently dispelling the rumour that IDM is music made to accompany the dismantling of heatsinks. Like their now-redundant neighbours The Fishery Commission, D_Rradio show that boffins like to play as hard as they work, and fun is something they can filter neatly through a microchip. There's clearly more magic in the Newcastle air than just the power to make you forget your jacket.