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Datassette – “People Without Mouths” Review


Funnily enough when I bought this album from Bandcamp (thank you artist recommendations!) I hadn’t clicked that my first contact with Datassette could well have been a remix from a Bjork single. However Datassette’s album “People Without Mouths” is a curious beast. Purely build of synths and some very clever effects, the album goes out of its way to curl itself around a melody by going about it in the most round about way possible.

Opener “Videohorse” is one of the most direct tracks on the album. There is a pulsating throbbing beat that grows and grows whilst a choppy keyboard loop runs at hyper speed cycling through seemingly random notes. It’s not until a few loops in you realise it’s a cleverly constructed loop which peeks out as the frequencies and volumes of instruments change. It then runs and hides as the track becomes more bass line focused in the middle but there is always a really hyper sensitive feel to everything. This is because for the most part the instruments are close to the ear and there’s little reverb. It compressed crushed production continues on the title track but is less pronounced as it’s a slower track. It does have some fantastic glassy pad samples that pitch bend slightly off-key for a curious sound whilst the main melodies pulsate with the best of them. I love how the track never sits still, changing something very audibly every eight bars. “Don’t” follows with a Son Lux inspired echo vocal as the beat distorts over a worn down synth pad and prickly needles seemingly stabbing at random notes. The track feels like it wants to break down and cry in its own oppression. Beautifully miserable.

“Power Ballad” follows and really sounds like Niki And The Dove. The reason is because it uses that 80’s clean guitar sound over some dirty synth pop sounds and happily merges it all into a melting pop. It’s not quite as Power Ballad as the title suggests but it is still a great track. “Bayesian Funk” however sounds like a real chop and paste job – and that’s no bad thing either. It seems to effortlessly flip, twist and drop a beat from one genre or seemingly song to another. Sometimes it feels like there’s no logic and it’s becoming freeform but the transitions are smooth and perfected that the collection of weird and wonderful samples weave together to make a memorable moment in time. It may not be the catchy song but it’s certainly unique. “Partitia For Unattended Computer” then takes a riff motif and chord structure and runs it on a loop and gives us everything from 80’s vocoder to chip tune to some trippy beat. It’s great example of how hypnotic something can become. The album rounds out with “Don’t (Ilkae Remix)” which isn’t as powerful as the original in my opinion but offers a more dynamic version of the original.

“People Without Mouths” is a fantastically accomplished piece of work. It may not be the catchiest or the most immediate music you’ll hear but the pleasure comes from working out all the complex melodies and hearing some of the quieter layers to discover new parts of the song each time. HPM most certainly approves!

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