The Russian takes techno through the keyhole. ‘Unlock the Box’ isn’t big on grand technicality, but simultaneously will then jump out of the night like a lightning bolt, showing it’s the muted ones that you have to be most careful of as Philipp Gorbachev seeks pleasure from dull thuds and straitjacketed structure. Said box does not belong to Pandora, it’s more the property of Houdini, enjoying the struggle of trying to escape.
The mini-album’s crowning glory is the despot ‘5th New Century’, despite coming dangerously close to being a pongy slab of Euro cheese. Its giant 8-bit riff, and bleak everything else, becomes so addictively, scarily potent that it features twice, with and without the automaton, ‘Age of Love’-style lyrics. “In the 5th New Century, only one rule counts: love is limitless”, says the blurb. With love like this…
The riff is then left to respawn in the background of the rolling ‘Lazer’ as kicks and hi-hats take centre stage, knowing that the damage has already been done, though on ‘Orbit’ it is rearranged into something approaching a positive, spirited siren from afar.
This is all a far cry from 2014’s ‘Silver Album’, an awkward, jarring electronic/alt-pop mishmash that made passing dancefloor acquaintances. Gorbachev’s other EPs on Cómeme, while more club centred, are not in the same league of austerity either, so his setting up of his own PG Tune really seems to have flipped a switch akin to masterminding a cult (see ‘The Weeping Tune’ and ‘Power of the Funk’, which even then are just off this album’s radar). ‘Light and Sound’, the national anthem of a barren region disappearing off the map before your very ears, draws from a tomblike hum, shaken by a cacophony of cymbals and a synth applying a death grip as and when is convenient. ‘Unlock the Box’s lack of length isn’t a problem, when it holds the power of projecting itself.
Words: Matt Oliver
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