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The Off Key Hat – Coming Up Shaking review

Over a series of stupidly limited, much-hyped singles on Andy Blake’s Dissident label in 2008 and 2009, Italo-obsessed South Coast trio The Off Key Hat announced themselves impressively. Fusing hard, raw, sequenced synth lines with a smart pop sensibility (most notably on “Emergency Calling”), they seemed set for big things.

That they didn’t kick on in 2010 is still something of a surprise, but they have their chance now thanks to a deal with ISM – and, more specifically, this expansive, seven-track EP. Featuring two original cuts alongside a string of superb remixes, it could be the EP that launches them into the musical stratosphere.

Of the original cuts, the killer here is “I Am The Body Electric”. Featuring another standout vocal from Michelle Manetti, it’s a wobbly, offbeat slice of leftfield pop that twists their vintage synth sounds into thrilling new directions. They’ve come along way since those grubby Italo bangers on Dissident.

There’s a second original composition here, too. Crackly, deep and atmospheric, “Fuga Da” is wonderfully wistful and melancholic. Musically, it benefits from a sound set that’s part Balearic European pop, part Italo, part witch house. However you describe it, it’s enchanting.

What really makes the package, though, is the remixes. There’s a pair of fine, squirming Italo reworkings from cosmic disco legend Daniele Baldelli, a jolly electro-disco stomp from Ashley Beedle and Yam Who, and a spooky leftfield take from Young Athletes. Best of all, though, is the Cosmodelica rework of “Emergency Calling” – a thrilling, dubbed-out midtempo synth-disco romp that twinkles in all the right places.

Matt Anniss