Seattle band, Gumshen delivers pleasing synthpop/EDM with their eighth CD. “DIGIBITES” (released April 1st, 2015) delivers ten tracks with the aid of keyboards, soft synths, percussion, guitars, bass and the legendary theremin. If you like Hot Chip or LCD Soundsystem, there’s a good chance you’ll like this. As for the theremin, I’m glad to see it alive and well. It’s a strange musical instrument that makes a spaced-out sound, so beloved of 1960’s bands and a constant presence in science fiction films in the 1950s.
Influenced by prog and indie rock, and even funk sometimes, this band doesn’t allow itself to be boxed in by genre. Lyrics are sometimes straight to the point and at other times are enigmatic; at least, they’re imaginative.
Start the album and you want to get up and move immediately to “A Scene Like That”, an intricate build-up of effects and beats. “Be Here and Now” is very catchy electropop, and you can hear that theremin do its thing. Gumshen evidently think of electronic music as science as much as art; here we have, “music is science”, and “Don’t Stop the Music”, which is a paean to the genre, contains the lyric “mathematics inside the brain”. “Pick Up the Slack” reminds me of Talking Heads, so much so it gives me an urge to do a David Byrne-style twitchy dance in an over-sized jacket. As well as this kind of precision, emotion spills out, as on “I Need a Friend”, a strange plea for friendship and an escape from loneliness.
An exciting band to watch live, Gumshen’s performances are apt to involve neon illuminated clothing and glow sticks. Check out the video to promote “A Scene Like That” on You Tube.
Some tracks are more focused than others on this release, but this is a tight band that knows what it’s doing and usually hits the right groove.