Extreme soundtracks for dodgem rides.
When you go to a cute theme park or a travelling fairground, the huge synth organs that play out over tannoys on rides are part of the experience. They remind me of a cross between seasides and video game soundtracks and I love both. Anna Meredith clearly has a love for dodgems too as this entire album examines the rides music.
The albums 20 tracks all have that crazed electronic organ at the forefront of every track. Each song has a different BPM and the thick synthwaves pulsating and pang like arpeggio banshees. Whilst each song has its own melody and feel, it’s the overall fairground feel that I took away strongest. Anna Meredith channels that fun into a visceral arcade experience that feels very 1988 and 2021 at the same time. The album plays each piece in full and they seamlessly switch and merge into each other as if your dodgem has actually triggered something on impact. It seems like that is exactly how the art installation itself works too from the video footage I’ve seen, or at least the music switches up during the ride. Yes, this album is fully rideable as an art installation! You don’t need the bumper cars though – I feel like I’ve lived the journey on audio alone.
As the tracks speed up and slow down, the kaleidoscope of patterns and waltzes freewheels and spin around you. It is both maddening and intoxicating, a bit like theme songs for a cartoon Joker. If it’s a slower track, like ’62 BPM Ballad of the Sea’, there is a teacups elegance to it all. I’m reminded of Theme Park on the Megadrive and cute not creepy at all clowns. Then on the flipside ‘BPM 194 Tom Cruise Runs’ is pure low brass synth stab aggression. Everything in between is an Alice in Wonderland ate too much sugar and exploded feeling. The album beautifully flows from fun to serene to manic to chaos to climax. It’s like a rollercoaster waiting for the big loop de loop finale and Anna pulls it off with speedy melodies, arpeggiators and guttural bass blows.
Whilst you can see the album as part of an expedition installation at Somerset House in London, you can also enjoy it as a bumper-car browser game too. I’ll be using it as a crazed soundtrack for whenever I play Planet Coaster, Theme Park or need something to make me feel like I’m going a million miles an hour in slow motion. Anna Meredith brings the funhouse to you this year, which is great if you can’t go to it.
Recommended track: BPM 131 Joy Subdivision
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