Melbourne-based electronic producer Kable Fransen previously graced us with last year’s self-described ‘plastic ambient’ album ‘The Month Machine’, and this follow-up ‘Volca Galaxies’ sees him shifting away from making tracks on his computer in favour of a series of Korg Volca microsynths, the seven tracks collected here being honed over several months of performing with his new set-up in clubs and bars. What’s particularly notable here is the degree of effort Fransen has invested to make sure that ‘Volca Galaxies’ accurately captures the true sound of his live performances, avoiding overdubs in favour of a raw approach that often reveals the limitations of the tiny Korg synths themselves.
That said, it’s impressive just how much Fransen is able to wring out of his comparatively minimalist live rig, with the seven tracks collected here traversing some fairly broad territory whilst flowing together seamlessly in the style of a live set. If there’s an overarching stylistic theme here, it definitely leans towards more filmic prog and Krautrock atmospheres, with the likes of early eighties Tangerine Dream and John Carpenter recurring particularly as touchstones here. ‘Viper Live’ nicely sets the tone that predominates here as an opening section of metronomic drum machines and squiggling filtered synths suddenly explodes into life as bright arpeggios and bass pads lock into place, taking things off a bouncy electro wander that sees acid squeals arcing off programmed handclaps and a blocky, gamecore-esque bassline.
From there, ‘Ballet Statique Redux’ gets deeper and darker as the rhythms slow down to a spacious crawl against ominous bass atmospheres and glassy synth stabs that suggest a John Carpenter film score, before more bright and optimistic synth melodies begin to rise to the forefront, propelling things to a majestic close as zapping effects stretch off into the distance. Elsewhere, ‘Quick Jam’ sees spiky frequency modulated synths wandering against dark, robotic bass synths and zapping electro rhythms as melodic keys dance back and forth, in what’s easily one of the most groove-driven tracks here, before ‘Ubermensch When I Can’ rides a gliding Neu!-esque krautrock trajectory for eight minutes, sending linear beatbox rhythms skipping against delicate synth arrangements that sound like they could’ve stepped straight off Kraftwerk’s ‘Tour De France’ at points. Fans of retro-laced hardware jams will find plenty to like here.