A Journal Of The Dark Arts
“Do Androids Dream Of Ferris Wheels?”
File under retrofuturism. File under future retro-ism, this slim volume is both ancient and futuristic, which places it somewhere near the present.
This one’s been lurking around my inbox for ages, a gracious gift from Alan Castallero, aka LORD NUMB. It’s been lurking around my bedroom all summer, and i’ve brushed it off and played it occasionally, taking my time to get to know the tunes. I’m glad i waited until i was in the right space to write. The last 6 months or so, my own listening habits, when not writing on assignment, have been almost purely electronic, or else crate digging for samples. It wasn’t until reviewing the new Pure Bathing Culture (which should be up on Redefine Magazine this week sometime) when i happened to fall in love with the 6-string guitar and its possibilities again. Another fortuitous stroke, in that i just finished reading Nick Kent’s Apathy For The Devil; a British music journalist’s junkie pub crawl through the ’70s. He gives penetrating first-hand insight into glam, punk and art rock, and every other kind of rock (including the ones that you wear and the ones that you smoke). The tome ripped the scab off my love of arty ’70s punk-rock, and i’ve been falling in love with Bowie, Bolan, Kraftwerk, Can and Neu! all over again.
Lord Numb blends post-punk futurism and dystopia with a blend of ’90s big beat, storming industrial guitars, and analog electronics. As Paul Foster, of echoesanddust.com put it, (i paraphrase):
Lord Numb takes rock-like conventions, and punctuates the conventional elements with atmospheres and odd squiggles.
He also uses descriptors like “dark”, “sinister”, “melancholic”, to give you some harbingers of things to come. It’s not as stark as it seems, however, as most of RNLT is rooted in folk or rock, with grayscale electronics added for flavor and shading.
Castallero sets the scene, comes out swinging, with a sleek Autobahn fever dream, Life Under Ice. If you love throbbing, one-note basslines and thrilling, adrenalized motorik drums, yr in luck. Here’s a score for all yr late-night graverobbing, in the coming months.
The transition into The Numb Generation, an update on Richard Hell’s Blank Generation, best illuminates the mechanical heart of Robots Need Love Too – Bryan Ferry-like romantic crooning, mixed with ring modulated noise crunch and pure acoustic guitars. It’s an ode to detachment, half mournful and half not-giving-a-shit; it’s a battle cry and an anthem.
I was introduced to Lord Numb while writing reviewing another British bloke, Healeyisland‘s On Ponzi Bridge. Where Greg Healey seems resigned to, nearly embracing, the current state of affairs and all of its technological possibilities, composing uncanny soundtracks for the global shopping mall. Lord Numb remembers what has come before, and knows how things could be. He is a throwback, raging against the grey bland fog of the Simulacrum, invoking the decadent spirit of glam, the insurrectionist instincts of punk rock, and the futurist edge of techno, delivered with a droll humour and a librarian’s wit, that is distinctly Alan Castallero’s, while still being quintessentially British.
Alan Castallero, as Lord Numb, is our favourite kind of Mutant – a transgressive boundary hopper, true only to his vision, his creativity, consolidating 4 decades of underground sounds into a radioactive gumbo. Robots Need Love Too is an intricate patchwork of Horror, Sci Fi, krautrock, new wave and anthemic rock ‘n roll. The pieces all fit together splendidly, and there’s some neat mixing moments as decades blend and morph, with an irreal dream logic.
He’s also written the first big beat banger based on an M. R. James’ ghost story that i’m aware of, for which he deserves a metal. Other bands reading this, please make more Victorian electronica!
Fans of Brian Eno, David Bowie, Devo, Kraftwerk, Neu!, Joy Division, New Order, Public Image Ltd., Chemical Brothers, Black Marble, wander into the wasteland with Lord Numb.
Robots Need Love Too is out on White Label Music.
listen on Rhapsody
get it on itunes
Lord Numb will be playing live @ The Constitution in Camden; 9.13.13
& The Hope & Anchor, Islington; 9.28.13
LORD NUMB ON FACEBOOK
…stay tuned for further gems from the Emerald Isles!