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LA Spark

MEME14 001LP MEME14 001LP

Opening with a single repeated note beamed from an analog basement studio in Shoreditch, London, Wrangler's debut mini-album LA Spark reclaims lost technology to make new themes for the modern world. Wrangler consists of Stephen Mallinder, best-known for his pioneering work with Cabaret Voltaire, Phil Winter of Tunng and Lone Taxidermist, plus the founder of Memetune studios and synth-obsessive Benge. His studio's synth-rammed walls have created an environment where sounds are ripped from a golden era of analog electronic music to create forward-looking, new music. Wrangler formed in the wires of Memetune -- a post-LCD, Factory Floor-ed electronic funk machine with VHS tape distortion in its eyes but also capable of sleekness and beauty in the stripped-back beats. The tracks range from the satellite bleep and synth melody of "Theme from Wrangler" to the alien carnival rhythms of "Modern World" and the ambient "Peace and Love" (originally recorded for Tate Modern's Summer 2012 program "Tweet-Me-Up"). In between there's "Lava Land" -- all masked, half-gargoyle vocals and primitive drum machines; the gliding, noir and neon of the title-track "LA Spark" and the urgent, pulsing floor-filler of "Harder." There are ghosts and echoes of Mallinder's previous work in Cabaret Voltaire in these songs, especially in the vocals and lyrics, which run like his own internal movie. But the Cabs era it recalls is the unfairly neglected 1983-1985, when they released the likes of The Crackdown and Micro-Phonies. Oddly enough, this period has been getting re-discovered and re-evaluated via a recent Mute box set, just as Wrangler started mixing this new EP for release. Sometimes the landscape changes and you can find yourself in the right place at the right time through a mixture of luck and instinct. A closer look at the personnel: Benge has been releasing "pure" electronic recordings from his London-based electronic studio hub for many years, such as 2008's 20 Systems and as John Foxx & The Maths. Phil Winter has been recording, playing and DJing for a number of years and is a member of Lone Taxidermist, and Tunng released their fifth studio album Turbines in 2013. Stephen Mallinder has a long history in music, most notably as founding member of Cabaret Voltaire, who recently reissued their Collected Works 1983-85 to critical acclaim.