PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.


Darkstar - "Through the Motions" (audio) (Singles Going Steady)

If you're Darkstar, "pleasant" isn't the word you want describing your output

Chris Gerard: British synthpop duo Darkstar will release their third album, Foam Island, on September 25. This preview is glitchy computer pop that has some interesting textures and a lurching rhythm, but it doesn’t quite gel as a piece of music. It’s got that “sad computer” vibe that’s already been perfected by others, and there’s not much in the way of melody. The whole thing is kinda monotonous. It’s a surprising choice to lead a new album -- “Through the Motions” is an apt title. Perhaps it should have been a b-side instead. [4/10]

Will Rivitz: I feel bad comparing everything Darkstar does to "Aidy's Girl Is a Computer," since a) I'd bet good money that nothing they'll ever make will come anywhere close to that tune's perfection and b) they're allowed to do whatever the hell they want without having to look six years behind themselves at every turn. That said, I'm OK comparing this one to that track because they're two examples of how to capture the imperfect perfections of a computer, one good, one not so much. "Aidy's" was so great because of how well it captured that whole Hyperdub ethos at the time of its release -- melancholy, sweet, and utterly void in the best way possible. "Through the Motions", on the other hand, just kind of lays there, feeding an uninspired indie schlock-rock bit through the tubes of some analog-sounding black hole of vibrancy, pumping out a pleasant but dull selection of vocal snatches and glitched drum snippets. And, if you're Darkstar, "pleasant" isn't the word you want describing your output. [5/10]

John Garratt: A nice, creative buildup is a good way for a listener to take notice. A symmetrical, predictable buildup can be a complete turn-off in a world overrun with recording software. Darkstar map out their approach on "Through the Motions" like they were a motivational speaker asked to address a banquet hall full of corporate suits while adhering to a strict time slot. Through the motions, indeed. [5/10]

Dustin Ragucos: Vocals are stretched and contorting all over this piece. The condensed waves of wailing does add something to the daily diet of sound. Related to this discussion of food is the odd addition of "egg rolls" to the lyrics. The spiral staircase rhythm the song takes in its last quarter does not do much in the way of appealing to listeners, but it's a novel touch. It's hard to expect something else from a song called "Through the Motions". It would've been nice to feel the existential crises that can take over. Constrained within its subject of going through a mechanical life, the song could've used some extreme contortions in the form of breaking some bones and letting experimentation take hold. [5/10]

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.





The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.


'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.


1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.


'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.


The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.


Mary Halvorson Creates Cacophony to Aestheticize on 'Artlessly Falling'

Mary Halvorson's Artlessly Falling is a challenging album with tracks comprised of improvisational fragments more than based on compositional theory. Halvorson uses the various elements to aestheticize the confusing world around her.


15 Overlooked and Underrated Albums of the 1990s

With every "Best of the '90s" retrospective comes a predictable list of entries. Here are 15 albums that are often overlooked as worthy of placing in these lists, and are too often underrated as some of the best records from the decade.


'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.


20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.


Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.


The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.


Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).


Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.


Aalok Bala Revels in Nature and Contradiction on EP 'Sacred Mirror'

Electronic musician Aalok Bala knows the night is not a simple mirror, "silver and exact"; it phases and echoes back, alive, sacred.


Clipping Take a Stab at Horrorcore with the Fiery 'Visions of Bodies Being Burned'

Clipping's latest album, Visions of Bodies Being Burned, is a terrifying, razor-sharp sequel to their previous ode to the horror film genre.


Call Super's New LP Is a Digital Biosphere of Insectoid and Otherworldly Sounds

Call Super's Every Mouth Teeth Missing is like its own digital biosphere, rife with the sounds of the forest and the sounds of the studio alike.


Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.


15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.