Record Collector

June 2013

The Elektrik Karousel by The Focus Group

 

The Focus Group is Ghost Box co-proprietor and graphic designer Julian House, whose sleeves for acts including Oasis, Primal Scream and Stereolab will be familiar to RC readers, even if his name isn't. On Elektrik Karousel, the first Focus Group album since 2009's Broadcast and The Focus Group Investigate Witch Cults of The Radio Age, House develops the cut-up approach of his previous releases, which is itself a sonic equivalent of his visual work.

The result is a densely layered digital/analogue sound collage, with 29 mainly short tracks programmed into 45 minutes, each assembled from multiple audio fragments. Lurching edits send you spinning through harpsichord arpeggios from a 60s TV series you can't quite remember, backwards voices, clanging bells, phased drums, tremolo guitars, flutes: at first listen Elektrik Karousel is a disorientating ride. But with repeated plays an internal logic emerges, apparent disconnects fixed into familiar but distorted shapes by fleeting melodies.

Stated influences include Czech animation, Italian Giallo and Lewis Caroll, alongside the now obligatory radiophonics. The end result is a simultaneously playful and unsettling electronic psychedelia that's distinctly Ghost Box. and richly rewarding

Mark Brend