Ford & Lopatin – Channel Pressure review

Is Channel Pressure a smart approximation of existing styles and trends or just a clever post-modern giggle? No matter what way one looks at the US duo’s album, there is no doubt that it deftly and skilfully regurgitates and repackages familiar sounds with a tongue planted firmly in its cheek. On “Emergency Room”, this comes in the form of an electro bass similar to the one in Gary Numan’s “Cars” combined with a camp vocal. “New Planet” meanwhile, brings together abstract techno rhythms and prog rock guitar solo self-indulgence to the backdrop of a space rocket setting off for Mars.

Of course Channel Pressure would be far less entertaining than it actually is if Ford & Lopatin merely repeated this formula. One of its other strengths is to make incisive commentaries on popular culture. The best example is “Rock Star Paranoia”. Beginning with a dreamy ambient reverie that could easily be a recreation of the substance-addled detachment that the subject matter may experience, it then launches into an epic synth and guitar-squealing workout that lands it in the middle of poodle mullet land. Yet despite all the subtle post-modern insights clever cultural references, what really impresses on this album is the duo’s ear for killer hooks and melodies, like the wide-eyed Italo of “The Voices” and the fist-pumping air guitar of FM anthem in waiting, “Joey Rogers”.

Richard Brophy