Saturday, 2 May 2009

Client A, B (and C)

How the devil does rock manage to keep going all these years? It is a fair question and one which many cynics would answer, ‘It doesn’t’. After all, popular music is now well over 50 years old and the means by which it remains fresh and vital must be stretching to the limit. There is a disturbingly large (and growing) stack of evidence to suggest that nothing much has changed since the 1970s but this would be a touch unfair as not all things have to change to be good. Nevertheless there is always the worry that time is running out for pop music, but then something always seems to turn up if you look hard enough.

The mechanism for rock’s chameleon-like quality has always been its ability to absorb and reconfigure diverse elements into a new whole and as long as this continues we ought to be alright. Take the following for example. What do you get when you merge these elements?
Depeche Mode
Scandinavian Air Hostesses

And the answer is…Client. Client is a collaboration between Kate Holmes, electronic music exponent (late of Technique and wife of Oasis discoverer, Alan McGee) and Northern soul singer and ex-Dubstar member, Sarah Blackwood. Formed around 2002 the members of Client originally attempted to remain anonymous behind pseudonyms Client A and Client B and shunned publicity photos but trying to keep the world’s worst kept secret was too trying so they have since revealed themselves, as it were. These days, along with Client C (ex-Ash guitarist Charlotte Hatherley) they perform their Kraftwerk inspired electronica to mainly German audiences, dressed in their trademark Scandinavian Air Hostess uniforms and have released 4 albums to date. Originally signed to Depeche Mode’s ‘Toast Hawaii’ label they now release material through their own ‘Loser Friendly’ label, but like Kim Wilde these days, seem to find a more appreciative market in Germany and other European countries.

I picked up a download of their second effort, ‘City’ on Amazon for £4.98 and have listened to it quite a lot. The hand of Depeche Mode is very much in evidence from the word go but it is deliciously edgy and a bit 1980s retro with some nice tunes. I always felt that it was only Depeche Mode that really understood electro-pop back in the day and it’s good to see that they have passed on some of this acumen. Also, I love Sarah Blackwood’s voice, northern vowels and all, and it’s amusing to know that Alison Goldfrapp hasn’t got it all her own way in the electronic stakes, horse’s tail or no.

It’s comforting to know that the rock chameleon circuits are still operating even if they are a bit rusty these days. Now, what can I do with ‘Bed-sit poetry’, ‘Daffodils’ and ‘Jangly guitars’? Damn! It’s already been done.

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