Vince Clarke and Paul Hartnoll – 2Square (Very Records)
10 June 2016
9 / 10
Two of todays modern day electronica pioneers join forces.
To say someones reputation goes before them is a phrase that can be used easily with the partnership of Vince Clarke and Paul Hartnoll. Clarke, the pop genius has been a powerosue behind the likes of Depeche Mode, Yazoo and Erasutre as well as collaborating with Feargal Sharkey, Jean-Michael Jarre, Ane Brun and a seemingly endless list of manstream artists, cannot put a foot wrong. His ear for a pefect pop tune is finely atoned. Hartnoll as one half of electronic dance act Orbtial with brother Phil was heavily influenctial in the rave scene of the late 80s and early 90s, has also relased solo material with Robert Smith, Lianne Hall and Joseph Arthur. Between them the pair have impressive pasts.
The combining of their forces is intriguing to say the least. With Clarke’s career highlights firmly based around high energy pop and Hartnoll in a sea of tracne, break beat and techno it’s maybe worth an educated guess as to where 2Square will lead them. The resulting eight tracks out on Vince’s new label Very Records gives a mix of their outputs with some tracks being frenetic dacne and the other wistful ambio-pop.
Album opener and debut single sets the tone. Bette Have A Drink To Think has the blips and bleeps that made Clarke’s 2012 Ssss album with Martin Gore under the acronym of VCMG such a delight. Powered by a steaming bassline and several added sound bytes, it culminates in a track with distinct pop roots and dance overtones. Above all, it’s fun and that seems to be the mainstsay of the whole album.
A short album, clocking in at less than forty minutes it doesn’t skimp on quality a factor that both artists have always strived for. Indeed, Zombie Blip (which on occasion has similarties to Clarkes mid 90s Top Of The Pops theme tune Red Hot Pop) is worthy of another single release and would not go amiss across widespread radio play.
Where 2Square becomes much more thsan faast paced electrco pop is where it seamlessly connects to less immediate tracks. The Echoes and Underwater are slower, gentler affriars which still contain enough depth to find them endearing and once more dispay the credentials of the men at work. The Shortcut could also be a stunning ambient track with the percussion and bass backing removed as it ebbs and glides throughout.
Do A Bong and All Out follow the pace set fro the beginning of the album and have enough musical balance and hi-energy madness to create some wonderful listening.
2Square maybe isn’t one for everyone, but for the pop purist it amrks the connecting of two minds to make an album of quite immeasurable quality.
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Published on Louder Than War 02/06/16 - here