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Delta Mainline - In A World Full of Madness, the Simple Joy of Melody... (EP Review)

Wednesday, 27 October 2010 Written by Jacob Mier
Delta Mainline-In A World Full of Madness, the Simple Joy of Melody Can Pull You Through (EP Review)

'In A World Full of Madness, the Simple Joy of Melody Can Pull You Through' is the eagerly-awaited EP release by pseudo-experimental Edinburgh collective Delta Mainline. It presents a new phase in the band's creative exodus from the norm, and a concoction of genre-spanning influences, such as Sparklehorse and Spaceman 3, are displayed.

'Here Comes The Light' announces the album with a strange, eerie ambience. Haunting brass overtones compliment David McLachlan's wistful vocals excellently, producing an ever-building atmosphere which drifts, seemlessly, from a ghostly textural void to a busy, dynamic feast of resonance, punctuated throughout by the soaring sirens that lurk in the song's ether. Alive as 'Here Comes The Light' is with experimentalism and edge, it does not seem alien in nature to the listener; there is something instantly accessible and warm about the sound of this Edinburgh collective in chorus. This is a track that strangely blends together many different shades - some of which are left aphotic and desolate by Delta Mainline's talented and diverse gang of musicians, others being filled uncompromisingly with vibrant, sonic energy - with the end product being a greatly layered and evocative tune. 'Hope Grace' radiates a similarly psychedelic, far-out tonality, growing more and more chaotic as the track progresses, before easing down to a submissive end.

'Sheltered Life' employs many of the same devices as the tracks which precede it, though McLachlan's vocals are distinctly more emotive and a little unhinged. An increased consciousness of lyric is present - "Guess I'll be fine/ keeps me in line/ I won't let you down this time" - the overall effect being a song with more direction than the rest on the EP, echoing the more thoughtful anthems of Echo & The Bunnymen and the drunken ballads of The Replacements at the same time. Sadly, it almost ends too soon. Nothing-to-everything progressions seem to define the songs on 'In A World Full of Madness...', the downside being that by the time we are fully immersed in Delta Mainline's orchestral cacophony, four minutes have elapsed; a climax is never really achieved, DM buying the cheap get-out clause of fizzle-out electronic blur in the case of 'Sheltered Life'.

'Holy Slow Train' starts with immediately more purpose than the other tracks; it goes on to swell and and reduce, over the course of 7 minutes, with brilliant spontaneity, layers of fuzz and white noise being added then subtracted as if McLachlan has gone power-crazy in command over his sonisphere, toying with texture and dynamics. 'Holy Slow Train' is an enormous track for the ride to end on, and the concerns I harboured - previous to its monstrous, bloody arrival at the very last - about Delta Mainline's capacity for variety are violently blown out of the water.

It can be difficult for a band to display a diversity of directions in the space of four tracks whilst, at the same time, tying each song to the same post and establishing the continuity of an LP, but Delta Mainline come very close to doing so. However, their efforts to create the unpredictable at times seem strained, and each track is either too similar or too different to the next; from this EP, there is little made clear about what the sound of Delta Mainline actually is. All I do know, having listened to 'In A World Full of Madness, the Simple Joy of Melody Can Pull You Through', is that the title is extremely relevant to the music; but perhaps in future efforts David McLachlan and co. should spend less on attempting to dizzy their listener and more on that "simple joy", since this record - while commendable for its bold adventurousness - might just be a little too self-indulgent.

Stereoboard Rating: 7/10

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