Having collaborated with Hans-Joachim Roedelius on Selective Studies Vol 1 in 2013, Lloyd Cole’s electronica project is now a bit more than a hobby but still a huge departure from the music usually heard on records bearing his name. Lloyd put together a modular synth and makes ‘generative music’ and, as he explains in his self-penned PR release, most of the pieces on 1D were generated by programmed circuits and logic. It’s as if your physics textbook had come to life and the circuit diagrams were singing to you.
He admits he’s become a student again, frequenting muffwiggler.com (not what you think) but as he says, “learning is often exciting, inspiring. Is knowing ever that much fun?”
The music sounds quite alien and austere. Sometimes it sounds like station ID music, sometimes like schools programming, other times it invites you to drift away in some retro-futurist fantasy. It seems inspired by Roedelius, of course, and Cluster, plus Brian Eno and people you’d need a maths professor to cite. It needs the right atmosphere to work but it’s intriguing, from ‘Ken-O’’s layered modulations to the scarily sweeping synth washes of ‘The Bund’, sounding like a missing Blade Runner soundtrack - very ominous and the best piece on the record. ‘Slight Orchestra’ is long but multi-layered and compelling while ‘Pertronics’ (a reference to Robert Fripp?) is just a student experimental noodling piece.
He’s not causing a commotion with 1D but he’s doing something right if, 23 years into his career, he can still drop surprises like this.