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White Glue

MEME16 004LP MEME16 004LP

LP version. The second album by Wrangler (Benge, Phill Winter, and Stephen Mallinder), following their 2014 debut LA Spark (MEME14 001CD/LP) and the 2016 remix release Sparked: Modular Remix Project (MEME16 002CD/LP). White Glue offers the 3D depth of analog equipment (the ancient synthesizers in Benge's MemeTune Studios have never sounded so good), but there's more funk than geek and more mod than modular in this tailored, minimalist design. Mallinder's vocals are a surreal joy, smeared with effects and electronics as they change, chant, and shift through the jump-cut lyrics. The opening trio of "Alpha Omega," "Stupid" (featuring Mallinder in a mutant-funk falsetto), and "Clockwork" (a nod to Kraftwerk, who famously name-checked Mallinder's Cabaret Voltaire as "brothers in popular electronic music") sets up White Glue with the crisp crack and thud of sequenced rhythms and lush synthesizers. "Dirty" starts like something from Forbidden Planet, pauses for a moment, then slams into a compelling funk beat with a bristling guitar riff courtesy of Julie Campbell (LoneLady). Mallinder delivers one of the most memorable vocal performances of his career, venting, sliding, and punching through the layers of noise with real urgency and bile. He employs his voice to more measured effect on "Stop" but it's no less hypnotic, a feverish guilt mantra of out-of-control consumerism. As the synths wail like sirens, one can picture Winter and Benge swaying to the beats, heads down, lost in the propulsive, (artificial) hand-clapping groove. The white-light techno rush, triggered synths, and chopped-up, multi-layered vocals of "Real Life" are followed by "Days," which slowly loops in then adds heavy bass and moody synth lines as Mallinder offers another striking vocal performance. "Superset" is a late highlight that features the band coaxing the rhythm into life before hitting hard with a lovely, deep groove. "Colliding" is the spacey krautrock closer, a beautiful, nuanced semi-instrumental song that exits with dreamy, abstract vocoder sounds and ambient synths.