[sic] Magazine

The Secret Society Of The Sonic Six – Arp Little Secret EP

Skrot Up definitely seem to have a penchant for releases that require a little more than ambidexterity when it comes to placing your fingers on specific genres. Fortunately, listening to them makes it easy to neglect the notion of deconstruction or definition, as despite the way you break it down, the sound is ultimately unique and cohesive.

The Secret Society of the Sonic Six and their release Arp Little Secret are a prime example. I’m going to go ahead and make the assumption that both artist name and release title are a bit of a nod to a couple of synthesizer models and makers (Moog Sonic Six, 1974 – 1979 and ARP Instruments, 1969 – 1981; both of which are somewhat known for being models/makers of one of the few early duophonic sytnthesizers, as opposed to the standard monophonic). If the fact that the group actually contains less than six members doesn’t lend credence to the assumption, then the prominent use of old synthesizers certainly should.

Vintage synths aside, SSSS have deftly created a 5-track experience that tours everything from French vogue to old school sci-fi, and places the snapshots squarely in an as-yet-indefinable space, if not time. Running under the current of their cool retro chic is a similar kind of suggestive but reserved and elusive sex appeal as was often present, but never outrageously so, in golden-era Hollywood (think white suits, slick hair, smokin’ dames and the subtleties of movement and you’d be on the right track). If such overtly retro film noir pastiche ever stood a chance of being made to sound in any way futuristic, modern, or at the very least relevant rather than merely nostalgic or novel, SSSS – or (((6))) – might just be the ones to do it.

‘Theme for The SS’ serves as a good intro, though perhaps better called an initiation. Slightly spooky and dreamy psych tones accompany the voice-over of a possibly nefarious character welcoming new additions to the fold, implying both the discreetness and somewhat shady dealings of the society rather less than discreetly. It sets the tone by invoking the spirit of old detective thrillers and/or Hammer films at the same time. It then leads, rather appropriately, to ‘Seance On A Warm Afternoon’, a smooth, subtly mod-jazz/trip-hop number with plenty of vogue chic.

Of course, what could be more fitting post-seance than a little bump? Third track ‘Bump (Sonically Speaking)’ lets a small hint of industrial creep over the jazz, while occasionally spiralling out with some mild but freak-out worthy electro-psychedelia.

Title track ‘Arp Little Secret’ is something of a mild, tropical cruise lounge blues number, casio-style beat pattering away while the synths layer on a little nostalgic psyche and the female vocals emanate from the ether. Chillwave is something of a dirty word in my house, but I have a small inkling SSSS won’t mind the use in this instance, more likely owing to the various allusions of the word ‘dirty’ than the suggestion there’s elements of chillwave here.

‘Six On My Hands’ ends the trip with a bit of a spanner in the works, at least in terms of subverting your ideas of where it’s all been leading to, with a layering of noise and sci-fi sound effects it ultimately sounds like a build-up to a meltdown in outer space. Or a deep sea vessel. As I said, the space is still indefinable.

Arp Little Secret would make a good soundtrack to the remake of a 40’s mystery flick/crime caper, directed by Frank Miller and guest starring Vincent Price – a little bit odd and spooky, a little bit fun and sexy, a touch of pulp too, but all the way cool and groovy.

~Arp Little Secret EP is out now on C20 (with free poster) via Skrot Up .~