As we enter Halloween season, a diverse number of new releases which features the suitably spooky-themed offering from Promenade Cinema, as well as dynamic cyberpop from Bekimachine and some driving Hi-NRG care of Powderpaint.
PROMENADE CINEMA – Spellbound
Previously, darkwave outfit Promenade Cinema had lucked out by serving up their 2020 album EXIT GUIDES (see TEC review) during the time of COVID which restricted their ability to take the album on tour. But like many acts at the time, the duo made good use in being off road in composing brand new tunes.
In fact earlier this year, Emma Barson and Dorian Cramm had unveiled new material during a live performance, which included their latest release ‘Spellbound’. At the time, the TEC review summed up the song as “a stunning number that features some enthralling synth melodies matched by a dramatic vocal delivery from Emma”.
Now with the polished studio version released, that description still holds true. For anyone who might think that Promenade Cinema may be exhausting their potential after two successive albums, ‘Spellbound’ serves up one of the best tracks of the year. It’s an astounding piece of gothic pop threaded with glittering synth charm. Meanwhile, the slow, percussive rhythms and bassy undertones give this number a weight and a heft that delivers an almost physical presence. As ever, the cryptic lyrics invite the listener to craft their own narrative and like many other Promenade Cinema efforts, there’s something suitably cinematic in the lyrical delivery.
BEKIMACHINE – Mecha
Bekimachine pulls in from a variety of influences for her electropop outings, including the likes of Grimes, HANA, Purity Ring, Bjork and CHVRCHES. There’s also a definite video game aesthetic (which comes as no surprise as Beki is a keen gamer). Following 2020’s debut EP Saga, Bekimachine has been slowly growing a following.
The dynamic ‘Mecha’ with its repeating beats and neon hooks comes across as an energetic sci-fi outing supercharged with synth-pop power. There’s a lot packed into this composition with layered electronics and treated vocal effects, yet it never feels chaotic or cluttered. Meanwhile, couplets such as “I feel our hands entwine/Watching the stars align” give the song a heart. ‘Mecha’ brings to mind acts such as AXLS with a sci-fi feel and a similar dramatic element in the lyrical delivery.
‘Mecha’ is taken from Beki’s forthcoming album Another Atmosphere, which was composed during lockdown sessions on her Twitch channel back in 2020. It sits comfortably alongside the buzzy piano-led ‘Colours’ and the off-kilter moods of ‘Ethereal’, two previous releases that served to give a flavour of the album.
POWDERPAINT – The Way You Want
Consisting of pop producer Hazel (Envelope Generator) and songwriter/vocalist Shonalika, Powderpaint served up an excellent debut EP back in 2020 (see TEC feature) in which they described their musical themes as “trans identity, bad relationships, pseudoscience, and an unapologetic celebration of queer people’s love and happiness.” The duo’s sound focusses heavily on Hi-NRG, while also taking influence from Scritti Politti, The Pointer Sisters, Pet Shop Boys, a-ha and Florence + The Machine among others.
‘The Way You Want’ shows Powderpaint on fine form again with choppy pop rhythms and warm synth elements. There’s also some nice Hooky-esque bass elements in the mix. Meanwhile, the song’s pointed lyrics (“You cut off your nose/To stick it underneath my clothes”) appear to be very timely given the troubled landscape in current debates about gender and individuality.
Powderpaint seem to be quite deft at composing engaging pop anthems that embrace a joyous dancepop feel and ‘The Way You Want’ certainly continues that tradition.