A foray into accessible but dark-hearted electro from a London artist on the rise.
Mike Diver 2011-07-26
Dave I.D. is, quite possibly, not an entirely happy bunny. Sold in as an artist channelling the dark art of Chris & Cosey and Einstürzende Neubauten, and presented via black-and-white promo photographs as a distant figure with eyes adrift of the onlooker’s focus, his debut LP could suffocate to death before sighing its opening seconds. But by keeping melody at the forefront of his enveloping arrangements, this south-Londoner has successfully merged persistent nightmares with pop nous. Catchy? Not in a chart-bothering sense. But there are plenty of bloody hooks here that many a listener will welcome sinking deep into their skin.
By the artist’s own admission, Liars are an influence on proceedings – and more than once the spectre of said band’s twin missives of art-rock mind-expansion, They Were Wrong, So We Drowned and the mighty Drum’s Not Dead, roars forth in the mix. These New Puritans, too, are a sonic parallel, the makers of 2010’s superb Hidden album recalled in the clattering percussion and cutting vocals of N.O.W.; but whenever an act appears to provide a reference point, it’s less a case of a firmly tethered attachment, more a frayed thread that’s close to breaking. Dave I.D. orbits these artists and more – Massive Attack’s blacker-than-midnight masterpiece Mezzanine is summoned via the industrial grind of opener When Everything Is In Its Right Place; You Me Come For could be HEALTH covering a Siouxsie and the Banshees number – but never quite lands on their stylistic surfaces; perhaps for fear of catching his reflection in them and running, terrified, back to whatever dungeon these tracks have been designed to provide the soundtrack to.
But for all the darkness that reaches around these pieces, like a tide washing in around one’s feet, leaving them buried in the silt, there’s an accessibility that suggests that Dave I.D., should he want to, could follow the path of The xx and create sparsely beautiful works that cross demographics. There’s the slightest hint of this possible future on Oil, where 80s electro-pop has its grandeur smashed and the end result is an affecting number of succinctly articulated anguish. The clean-keys-led closer Mine is a tender-of-tone (and passionate of lyric, our protagonist insisting that "someone must pay") bookend to a collection that, largely, aims itself at the jugular; again, it’s a number that allows a chink of light to shine itself on the talent at the heart of this set. And it’s a talent that deserves to be highlighted. (Evil Twin Shadow, anyone?) Look long enough and, you never know, he might just crack a smile at his great achievements here.