Rating: 8.5 / Format: CD/LP / Label: Soul Jazz
As Prince once sang, and as Hot Chip told us over again, there is joy in repetition. The second album from London electronic duo Subway is hardcore in its repetitiveness, and it’s given me the most joy of any music this year that isn’t Kyle Hall or UK Funky. We’re talking proper repetition here; none of the fancy, subtle squirming around that, say, minimal techno offers. Rather, Subway set up a dreamy loop of synths and let it roll and roll. Onwards into languid blissiness, as vintage keyboards blow bubbles and crooked techno beats slap along lazily, like waves hitting the side of a rowing boat.
There’s a pretty big Krautrock and Kosmiche influence going on here (incidentally, isn’t the former the ugliest genre name in music, and the latter the prettiest?). One track of slippery, sleepy instrumental guitar work is called ‘Harmonia’, which figures. But whereas so much modern-day vintage synth noodling is a bit too stern, and bit too dull (cf. Matmos’ recent Supreme Balloon), II is overwhelmingly generous. Everything here feels like it was made with sensory pleasure in mind; no awkwardness, no grit, no end-of-the-night darkness, just loops and sunshine. It also works so much better as an album than in short doses; the preceding Subway singles, nice as they were, didn’t prepare me for the loveliness of settling down and trancing out to their music for a good fifty minutes or so. If we’re going to have the heatwave that’s promised this year, then this collection of beautiful simplicity should be playing in the background, as the sun rises and sets.