Hoarse Songs

It’s perhaps unfair after all these years to continue to associate composer Andrew Poppy with ZTT, a label with whom he only worked in the mid-80s. Somehow, however, that air of theatricality they actively cultivated around him, as arguably the label’s most highbrow act, has lingered, and their role in his story is, one must concede, the main reason he still finds himself within these pages. This said, one never exactly came to Poppy for Two Tribes, and nor should one do so now. Nonetheless, his flair for the intriguing and the imaginative remains fully intact.

Try the manner in which, Steve Reich-style, he layers different, slowly shifting melodic lines of voice, horn and what might be harpsichord over the mesmeric Riderless. Or soak up Rainy Must Kiss Everybody’s transformation from decorative synth squiggles and starkly minimalist stabs of brass to its concluding flurries of saxophone, martial drums and Art Of Noise-style synths.

Poppy’s operatic vocals remain a matter of taste on the baroque What Is This Place, but they categorically win out on the rippling Wave Machine (endless parting) and the enthralling simplicity of XY Song, a meaningful ode to gender fluidity, that will, one hopes, prove educational as well as enduring.


Wyndham Wallace