Dark electro outfit Dicepeople have popped up on our radar in times past with a selection of electropop outings that bounce between melodic synth outings (such as the clean lines of 2017’s ‘Synthetic’) and striking cover versions (their percussive take on Depeche Mode’s ‘Strangelove’ in particular).
At the same time, the band have embarked on a number of collaborative projects that prove there’s always a successful alchemy by combing talents. The excellent ‘Shallow Under Skin’ with Moi Saint being an example, but ‘Love Parasite’ (with The Brooklyn Foundation) showed that they could also deliver sensual, sexually-charged workouts.
Consisting of Matt Brock (musician, songwriter and producer), Zmora (vocalist) and Rafael Filomeno (visual artist), Dicepeople pull from a wide range of genres including synth-pop, EBM, darkwave and post-rock.
Their latest studio album, One From Many, takes a step further into darker landscapes filled with sinister synths and sombre beats. Here, the perpetual twilight territory is full of shadows and uncertainty. It’s a dark club space in the deepest basement of an abandoned cathedral.
Opening track ‘Void’ offers up an unsettling composition that evokes images of cavernous spaces. Adding to the uneasiness is a spoken narrative (pulled from cult Rolf De Heer film Bad Boy Bubby) ruminating on the nature of God and humanity.
That bleak opener provides an overture of sorts for the dark tunes that follow, including the broody beats of ‘Gone’. Here, Zmora invokes a sinister vocal that has a strangely hypnotic effect over the muscular percussion.
‘Multiplicity’, which was the track that led the album, dips back into the tighter electropop elements that Dicepeople have delivered so successfully in the past with Zmora and Matt Brock batting back and forth on vocal duties. Lyrically, the song harkens back to Luke Rhinehart’s 1971 novel The Dice Man. In the book, the narrative revolves around a central protagonist compelled to make decisions based on the role of dice, taking on darker aspects as the plot unfolds.
It’s a popular touchstone for inspiration, particularly in music (Swedish band Vogon Poetry also penned a song inspired by the book) and its darker implications have certainly made an impression here (“just blame the dice/they made you do it”). The dark dance elements give the tune an insistent quality, while Zmora’s breezy vocals offer a contrast to Brock’s more empathic spoken word delivery.
Meanwhile, the combo of dance and industrial elements continues on the excellent ‘Celestial’. Here, guest vocalist Sara Dee joins Brock on an ethereal journey whose layered synths delivers the listener into a cosmic space.
Long-term Dicepeople collaborator Atashi Tada returns on the gothic pop of ‘Nitro’. Here, her vocal talents are matched with Darien Graham-Smith’s own for an effective dark wave workout.
Elsewhere, there’s frenetic dark pop delights on the frenetic ‘Pigs’ while the album takes things even darker on the disquieting tones of ‘This’ (featuring guest vocals from Hemiola).
One From Many closes out on the hymnal ‘Duality’ which offers a fitting showcase for Zmora’s captivating vocals.
Quite how Dicepeople’s latest outing will resonate with the listener depends on your tastes in electronic music. Dicepeople have always plunged into dark wave waters and One From Many takes a deep dive in the same spaces. It encourages a sense of reflection in those darker depths however, combined with an accomplished hand at hypnotic beats and melodies.
One From Many is out now on the Syndicol label.