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Antoni Maiovvi – Battlestar Transreplica/Trial By Bullet review

Despite a smattering of decent releases, including two worthy albums and the honour of having one of only two releases on the seemingly forgotten Kompakt offshoot Fright, Bristolian-in-Berlin Antoni Maovvi has yet to gain widespread recognition for his eccentric analogue synthesizer compositions. It’s something of a shame, because his faithfully vintage take on synth disco – an obscurist mix of Goblin-ish prog disco, raw Italo, Teutonic hi-NRG and coldwave curiosities – is comparable with many of his more celebrated peers.

Here, he returns with an ambitious third opus; a two-disc set that’s effectively two albums in one. Each disc is titled separately, with music to match. This is not so much one album as two different explorations of his musical influences – two sides of the same coin, if you will. Interestingly, both are pitched as soundtracks to imaginary Italian TV series, with colourfully imaginative press releases to match the music.

There’s defintely a grandiose, cinematic feel to Battestar Transreplica’s cascading, unrelenting opener, the coolly creepy chase-in-space epic “Martian Time Slip”. The same could be said of 16-minute closer “I Offer To Thee Something Beautiful, Sonething Burnt”, which starts off sleepily before gradually morphing into some kind of breathless white-knuckle ride through the farther reaches of the solar system. The whole CD has an air of Lindstrom’s Where You Go, I Go Too about it, only with more Italo-disco influences and less prog rock pomoposity. Maiovvi’s album certainly shares the grand ambitions of the Norwegian’s solo debut.

Then there’s the small matter of Trial By Bullet, the second disc. This time round, the sci-fi influences and stargazing grooves are gone, replaced by raw synth-funk rhythms and a greater dancefloor sensibility. Check “Commander Powell Is Dead”, “Standing on Dead Streets” and “Mission Europa”; like the rest of the CD, they’re unashamedly joyous, all fizzing electronics, glorious riffs and thumping bottom end. Yet for all the simple thrills and smile-inducing melodies, there remains a grandiose, cinematic feel throughout.

As imaginary soundtracks go, Battlestar Transreplica and Trial By Bullet are pretty special. Let’s hope Hollywood comes calling – that Tron remake would have been much better if Jeff Bridges had whacked these tracks on his (virtual) Walkman.

Matt Anniss