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History of Colour TV - Emerald Cures Chic Ills

  by Anthony Dhanendran

published: 11 / 5 / 2013

History of Colour TV - Emerald Cures Chic Ills
Label: Saint Marie Records
Format: CD


Extraordinary debut album from shoegazing-influenced Anglo-American Berlin-based act, the History of Colour TV

Music industry press releases are notoriously useless when it comes to providing any kind of actual information about bands or acts. For once, though, a press release has ridden to your correspondent’s rescue, providing exactly the right phrase to capture the essence of Anglo-American Berliners the History of Colour TV. The first hurdle was deciphering the album title, and figuring out which of the two phrases on the CD’s cover was the band’s name and which was the album title (the album turns out to be called ‘Emerald Cures Chic Ills’). Said press release came to our aid to point out both artist and title, and then gave us just what we needed to get to grips with exactly what this music was: “pop-sense versus noise-texture”. Let’s take those words one at a time, shall we? There’s plenty of pop to go around: opening track ‘Let’s Get Sick’ is all soundscape, open and accessible. ‘I Knew It Was Wrong but I Did It Anyway’ is an even more conventional electro-pop tune in the mode of late-period New Order and its sister act Electronic. Although two thirds of the way through things start to get interesting with a bridge that’s more of a breakdown into noise, a la My Bloody Valentine. Although shorter, of course. That’s where “sense” comes through as well, as in sensibility, sensitivity. The trouble with bad pop music is that it’s all pop and no sense – no sense of its own glory or its own ambition. Makers of better pop music, like the History of Colour TV and their influencers MBV have a keen pop sensibility – an ability to make accessible, even tuneful music, while pushing at the edges of categorisation. Track 3, ‘Suddenlines’, is beat-less and scape-like as the opener, while the intro to ‘Selisse Estates’ recalls nothing so much as the intro to U2’s ‘Pride (In The Name of Love)’. Don’t worry, U2-haters – nothing else in the song resembles the dread rock titans. The song titles on the CD’s inside cover are split into two groups of five like those of a record, and a minute-long interlude called ‘Interference’ ends the first half. A sticker on our review copy announced that the album includes ‘1-800 Badnite’ and ‘Sxrx’, and the former opens what we’re going to call Side 2. It’s heavier than most of the first side, but this fast-paced swirling, snarling beast really shows off those pop songwriting chops. Then it’s on ‘Mend’ that we get to the “noise”: it opens with a thin, reedy but powerful wall of sound and glitch and white noise that gives way to the crunch and grind of guitars. In the middle of this seven-minute slow-burner some clean synths start to make their way out of the waves of guitars like shafts of light piercing the storm, making a majestic whole. Your reviewer’s favourite track, however, is the aforementioned ‘Sxrx’ which is where we finally get to the “versus” from our descriptive phrase. You thought we were going to leave that out? Certainly not. Here, the band recall the 2000s-era Chemikal Underground Aereogramme, criminally underrated and masters of blending dark with light; grinding grit with sheer gloss. That’s what’s on show here, a three-minute pop song that takes the drums out of the picture, replaces them with crashing noise and lets everything meld. The History of Colour TV might lack some of the subtlety of, say, A Silver Mt Zion, or the sheer kicking power of My Bloody Valentine, but those are not deficiencies in the right hands, as here. That’s because of our final word, “texture”. The fine, beautiful textures in which this album is draped are remarkable and rather wonderful, gliding from light to dark and back again, across the post-rock scape of crushing, pounding guitars. To put them all together as the History of Colour TV have done here is no mean feat.

Track Listing:-
1 Let's Get Sick
2 I Knew It Was Wrong But I Did It Anyway
3 Suddenlines
4 Selisse Estates
5 Interference
6 Badnite
7 Mend
8 Sxrx
9 2X1X
10 Going to Stay

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