Caught in a vision of love
Based in Melbourne, Australian electropop outfit Parralox originally came to life in 2008. Their debut album Electricity achieved critical acclaim and paved the way for an impressive catalogue of energetic electronic pop releases.
Collaborations with the likes of Ian Burden, Ade Fenton and Marcella Detroit have all been part of the Parralox story. Meanwhile, the striking visual style and branding of the outfit is masterminded by Parralox founder John von Ahlen, giving Parralox one of the most distinctive looks of any electronic band.
While this year seems to have been a quiet one for Parralox, in fact the electropop combo have been busy putting the finishing touches to their latest studio album Genesis.
Following on from 2016’s Subculture, new outing Genesis sees Parralox maestro John von Ahlen gather a range of talents for the new album. Johanna Gervin’s scintillating vocal chops are, of course, present and correct, but Genesis also features vocal contributions from Louise Love and Jane Badler (yes, that Jane Badler) on the album. Meanwhile, Ian Burden returns to lend his bass talents (in turn demonstrating what made his Human League tenure so vital).
Parralox occupy an interesting position in the world of electronic music. John von Ahlen has always expressed a love for that crucial 80s period of synth-pop, while also maintaining a sound that comes across as fresh and modern.
“I never really think about what the ‘Parralox Sound’ is” pondered von Ahlen in our last TEC interview, “The reality is that our sound will always be driven by what is influencing me at that time. Meaning it’s a mix of my musical heroes from the ’80s and also the latest club sounds I’m hearing. That’s really the key to the Parralox sound, having one foot firmly stuck in the ’80s, while the other is always listening to the latest sounds and club tracks. I have zero interest in commercial pop music, and don’t listen to the radio or watch TV.”
One of the interesting aspects of what constitutes the ‘Parralox Sound’ is the instrumentation. Much of Genesis is composed on classic synth tech, which includes Linn Drum, DX7, Emulator II, SH-101 and even a Fairlight tossed into the mix. But the other magic ingredient in the music is the collaborators that come onboard for Parralox tunes.
Jane Badler achieved recognition in the world of pop culture for her role as Diana in the 1980s sci-fi series V. But aside from her acting roles, she had also demonstrated she was a capable singer (which included the release of her debut album The Devil Has My Double in 2008).
Since relocating to Australia, Badler has balanced acting and singing duties which also brought her into the orbit of Parralox. ‘Tears Of Faith’, which opens Genesis, demonstrates those vocal talents on a slick slice of pop with a sturdy bass foundation. There’s a lounge pop sensibility to lines such as “Will our true love bring us back, or will we fade to black?” on a number that originally dates back to the pre-Parralox outfit Nova.
Since relocating to Australia, Badler has balanced acting and singing duties which also brought her into the orbit of Parralox. ‘Tears Of Faith’, which opens Genesis, demonstrates those vocal talents on a slick slice of pop with a sturdy bass foundation. There’s a lounge pop sensibility to lines such as “Will our true love bring us back, or will we fade to black?” On a number that actually dates back to the pre-Parralox outfit Nova.
Meanwhile, ‘Goodbye Berlin’ offers up Johanna Gervin’s evocative vocal on a driving synth-pop number. Originally penned in Germany, it’s a composition that’s a love letter of sorts to the country, albeit with a bittersweet quality. There’s a wistful element to lines such as “To run from all that I love/You know that I can’t stay or remain” via Johanna Gervin that lends an emotional impact to the tune.
But Genesis offers up a wide variety of sounds, including the euphoric pop on ‘System of Pleasure’ or the more mechanised mood of ‘Robots of the World Unite’ with its vocoder-enhanced vocals.
The mesmerising beats of ‘Nemesis’ also make heavy use of vocoder on the vocal elements, which have odd cryptic musings (“Ancient life on satellite/Reflections of a modern life”).
‘Sueño Latino’ has, unsurprisingly, more of a latin vibe to it. Here, Ian Burden’s bass guitar licks give the number a robust foundation. Originally conceived as a song that should sound like “Kraftwerk meets the dancefloor”, its actually more of a electro-funk workout. In fact, its the German vocals of ‘Über Ding’ which suggests more of a Giorgio Moroder meets Kraftwerk vibe.
There’s also more Moroder-esque touches on ‘Resurrection’ in which Louise Love’s vocals breathe with an ethereal charm.
Elsewhere, the Spanish flavours of ‘Cadenas de Oro’ (another tune utilising the talents of Ian Burden) have a summer vibe, alongside some mesmerising vocals from Louise Love.
‘Under The Skin’ shows Parralox in a more playful mood. Inspired by the 2013 Scarlett Johannson-starring sci-fi movie, this tune delivers one of the album’s best moments via engaging vocal hooks such as “Take your time, and do it better/Take your time, and you will see.”
Genesis demonstrates that Parralox are still at the top of their game with their distinct flavour of synth-pop. The future is looking bright and we’re looking forward to seeing who’s next on the collaborator list for the Australian outfit.
Genesis is out now on Conzoom Records.
Parralox are performing at the Factory Manchester 6th March 2020, alongside Northern Kind and AXLS. Details: https://www.facebook.com/events/422647311745758/
iTunes – http://bit.ly/plox-itunes-genesis
Amazon – http://bit.ly/plox-amazon-genesis
Bandcamp – http://bit.ly/plox-bandcamp-genesis
Googleplay – http://bit.ly/plox-googleplay-genesis
Beatport – http://bit.ly/plox-beatport-genesis
Spotify – http://bit.ly/plox-spotify-genesis
Responsible for the creation of the original Official OMD Website, Paul also spent over 10 years administrating the site. As well as providing sleeve notes for many of the OMD reissues, he also provided design concepts for sleeve art and tour promotions.
He ran the Julian Cope-focused Screaming Secrets for many years and also administers Virginia Astley's official website.
Outlets and publications that have featured his contributions include Electronic Sound, Metro, Japan Update Weekly, J-Pop Go and Wavegirl.
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