You know when you hear the first few notes of a new song from a new album and you know it is just going to be very, very good? It doesn’t happen all the time but, when it does, a smile begins to grow on your face.
Well, when I heard the first notes from Meet Your Maker, the opening track from Sacred Ape’s sophomore release ‘Electric Mountain’ that familiar feeling started to tingle across my body.
I was a big fan of prolific musician John Bassett’s new synth and dark wave project when I heard the first, self-titled, album last year but he has really moved the game on with this second album and in a big way.
John said, “I think, its kind of like a progressive 80’s electronic horror soundtrack, sort of? but that just might be me? I feel this is the closest I’ve got to the sound and style I was hoping to achieve when I first started this project.” he went on to say, ” I was pleased with the first Sacred Ape release but it ended up too poppy, mainly due to the vocals and pop melodies. Nothing wrong with that, but it wasn’t what I had planned, this Electric Mountain album is much more in alignment with my original idea. I’m also very happy with the production, making this type of music has pushed me into learning some new mixing and production techniques which I can bring to the next project which will be more rock orientated.”
Coming in at a brief thirty six minutes and composed of seven tracks, the album opens with the darkly dangerous Meet Your Maker where John really has got the John Carpenter soundtrack vibe down to a tee. Bass heavy and with the sonics of the synths making your hair stand on end, this is not music for the faint hearted with its unrelenting tempo and 80’s industrial electronica sound. I found myself instantly immersed in the finely crafted ambience. If you’re a child of the 80’s then title track Electric Mountain will take you right back to those times with its catchy hooks and Exorcist like back ground synths. Vibrant and utterly dynamic in range and impact, it could be from a soundtrack to a world dominating alien invasion film or just some thoroughly entertaining industrial synthesiser music. All I know is that it is near nine minutes of sheer nostalgic brilliance for this music fan and it has been on repeat on my iPhone since I first heard it.
What must be a contender for song title of the year, Grandma Doom And The Happiness Trap is an altogether darker foray into electronica. Compelling and incessant, the music drives you on mercilessly and you are quite happy to let it lead you mindlessly on like a modern day Invasion Of The Body Snatchers theme. It might even have a touch of Dr WHO to it as well, but that may just be me! There are little gems at every turn as the rhythm and cadence ebb and flow and I feel John is reaching back to his younger days to touch on the many influences that have moulded his music. A wonderfully atmospheric eight minutes of 80’s reminiscing. Janie’s Theme almost sounds like a synth wave Mike Oldfield track, with electronic glockenspiels and dulcimers echoing around you. Engrossing from beginning to end it’s only flaw is that it is too short, in my opinion!
There’s just something about Sunblock that makes me smile every time I hear the opening strains. It’s languid, laid back style echoes glorious summers of the decade that taste forgot and every note seems perfectly placed, mirroring that Giorgio Moroder sound that was everywhere in the 1980’s. There’s an addictive and catchy refrain that runs throughout and it is just a real feel-good piece of music that anyone around my age will really appreciate. Mono Grande is a delightful, if criminally short, return to the refrain from Electric Mountain but delivered in such an incredibly relaxed and laid back manner that it makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.
The final track on this release is Headlights and with its harsh and in your face opening you really feel that you are a rabbit caught in them! Compelling and dynamic, it powers along at first, dominating proceedings before the keyboards take a softer edge for a short while. It isn’t long before that domineering sound crushes all before it though. The track then continues as a juxtapose of those two quite different styles, a real nod to that atmospheric feel that John was hoping to attain and, to be fair, does with consummate ease. A potent statement to close out the album.
I get the feeling that Sacred Ape is a project that John really enjoys doing and is one that is close to his musical heart. If ‘Electric Mountain’ is its zenith before this incredibly versatile musicians voracious appetite takes him down another route then he is leaving on a fantastic high. Right, I’m off back for another listen, you lot can get your own copy at the link below!
Released 26th January 2018