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Field Harmonics – Walls

Field Harmonics is Rob Glover , whom many of you may be familiar with as one half of Epic45 . Walls is not exactly Rob’s first solo album (he’s previously released work under the name The Toy Library ) but is his debut release under this new guise. It’s easy to see why, as the album has more of an electronic/pop feel than the usual atmospheric output of either Epic45 or The Toy Library.

It’s fair to say that Rob wears his influences on his sleeve and there’s more than a hint of the dark pop of, say, Depeche Mode , New Order or Pet Shop Boys in his sound. If you’re reading this article hoping for In All The Empty Houses part #2 or more May Your Heart Be The Map then it’s likely that you could walk away disappointed. The sound of Walls is a million miles away from Epic45. In fact, Rob’s made a giant leap of faith and moved into musical areas previously not frequented by either Epic45 or any of his other label-mates on Wayside & Woodland Recordings.

The overall sound definitely leans towards the eighties, which kind of means that unless you’re a fan of particular electronic bands from that era (or you’re actually from that era) then you may find Walls a challenging listen. To be honest, I’m struggling to determine who the target audience is… it’s likely that today’s indie kids aren’t going to relate at all to what’s going on here. Even the overall production sounds like a demo tape recorded in the eighties (I should know, I have a bunch of tapes which I recorded myself in the eighties!), with its bass-heavy synths, drum machine hi-hats and saturated reverb on cymbals. It’s fitting then that Rob has chosen to release the album on both CD and cassette – two formats which were both massively popular during that decade.

Whilst it’s commendable that Rob’s chosen to produce something totally different to any of his previous songwriting output, I can’t help but feel that it’s as if he’s challenging us all to say “Hey, look at me, I’m not a one-trick pony, there’s more to me than Epic45” , I’m unfortunately left with no real emotional attachment to Walls but an overriding sense that I want to tell Rob that actually being one half of Epic45 is something actually worth shouting loudly from the rooftops about.

Walls makes me recall a small indie band from the mid-eighties called The Beloved . They released a handful of brilliant singles on their own label including ‘This Means War’ and ‘A Hundred Words’, however the singles achieved very little commercial success aligned with disinterest from the music media. Faced with this, Jon Marsh , the vocalist, decided to direct the band towards a completely new dance-focused sound, half of the members were dismissed and ‘Loving Feeling’ was released. Shortly afterwards, ‘The Sun Rising’ and ‘Sweet Harmony’ became massive hits for the band. The Beloved found their fame & fortune but arguably at the expense of artistic credibility. In Epic45, Rob has hold of a very rare diamond; I hope that he makes his own choices wisely.

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