Pictureplane: Technomancer

Pictureplane's third album is anarchic, noisy, sweaty, somewhat scrappy at times, but a ton of fun.

It’d be easy to label Pictureplane — also known as “Travis Egedy” — as a bad influence. Just like 2011’s frisky and mostly marvellous Thee Physical, Technomancer feels like descending a spiral staircase into a shapeshifting, subversive secret society where your dance commander will inject melon-twisting, ‘Smash the System’ propaganda into your mindscape via osmosis. Think Aleister Crowley with an Alien Body baseball cap, a Robin S tattoo and a sick beat. A “Reality Engineer”, no less. But when it’s this entertaining it can’t be wrong. Can it?

Let no booty go unshaken! As with Egedy’s previous two albums the dials on Technomancer’s amps go up to 11. There are no Tenderoni ballads for Bambi-eyed wallflowers here. The door gets locked behind you and no-one leaves ’til Johnny Five-O shuts us down. We slide in to the sound of the “Sick Machine”. Shivering strobes, ‘driller killer’ bass, spinning UFO orbs and Egedy pining to be your “Whore”, “In the ruins of a shopping mall.” It’s grubbily glamorous. That’s “the way of the underground” apparently. We then saunter through “A suicide door” toward the realm of “Esoterrorist (Lunatic Fringe)” which carries a passing resemblance to the Chemical Brothers’ “Block Rockin’ Beats”, albeit recut by John Carpenter on a Crystal Meth rush. Throughout our trip, Egedy’s soft, angelic vocal shines ‘n’ soothes coolly at odds with the crashing robotic percussion. The kaleidoscopic “Joyrider” momentarily rolls back the cave roof, bathing us in blinding light. A hazily romantic, washed-out blur beneath the skyline, head back in a convertible, smiling goofily, eyes bobbing around in your skull. “I would come down for you” it promises unconvincingly as its anesthetized soul floats higher than the sun.

The bangers come thick and fast. “Self Control” is a trancey, tripomatic fairytale reminiscent of early ’90s alchemists Jam & Spoon. Riding a ruggedly dark, deep house bassline there’s a hypnotic, bubbling slow burn before its phoenix glides off into the ether. The enchanting “Street Pressure” is the closest we get to a pop jam. Wistful but optimistic, it shimmers incandescent in the dark like a twinkly twin of Crystal Castles’ “Celestica”. “I’m gonna follow my own star” it yearns. There are a few less cute tunes roaming the shadier corners of Technomancer, though. “Death Condition (Black Acid)” unearths the doggerel stomp, steam and splatter of ’80s industrial bands like Nitzer Ebb. Breaking glass and heart attack sirens echoing through abandoned warehouses with the kind of rumbling low bass intended to simultaneously burst your eardrums and evacuate your bowels in a single blast. Not a good look. “Harsh Realm” is a bit daft too. Hyperfast dubstep beats, bloated frog bass and fairground synths, it dares you to keep up with its amphetamine assault. “I’m feeling so dark… fuck me like you mean it!”. It’s hard though not to secretly smile at its dizzy ridiculousness.

As with Thee Physical and all the best parties, Technomancer kicks up a gear once it’s warmed up its engines and is firing on full, er, “Mancer”. The colossal “Chaos Radical” soars like a futuristic replicant rebuild of Jacko’s “Smooth Criminal”. Juggernaut rave-pop for the stadiums in the Off World Colonies of Mars circa 2115. The infectiously inspirational title track meanwhile hammers away like Depeche Mode’s “People Are People” banging its head forcibly against the world. A punchy, pounding rally to rise up and wrestle back your reality, “Manipulate your machine / YOU are a Technomancer!”. With the anarchist avengers (AKA “Renegade Street Trash”) assembled “Riot Porn” fires the signal to storm the palace. A poetic, slo-mo montage of flying Molotovs, flipped scripts and burning flags. It’s soft destruction is perversely serene with sweeping synth strings and that soothing voice, “That new American noise / Itching to get out of line”. The party closes with a toast to the future via the anthemic “Live Forever (Megalith Youth)”. It bequeaths Technomancer a beatific afterglow. “There is freedom in your moonlight / Under an alien dawn… forever, ever.” Long live the new flesh!

Pictureplane’s third album is a riot. It’s anarchic, noisy, sweaty, somewhat scrappy at times, but a ton of fun. Much of it flies by at such an alarming pace you’ll often wonder “Aren’t you a little short for a Stormtrooper?” but its relentless energy fuelled by Egedy’s sincere, socially conscious (and yeah, sometimes strange) message makes it a record that deserves to be heard. Loudly obviously, and with some badass lasers. “I don’t want to be sedated!” Egedy kicks, “Dare to be alive!” Technomancer‘s not pulling you into the gutter then; it’s pulling you out.

RATING 7 / 10
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