MetroGlow’s Synthetik is the fantastic new EP by Crispin Coulson (aka MetroGlow). Listening to it reminded me of the brilliant novel by celebrated novelist Martin MacInnes.
The opening section of the story by MacInnes, Gathering Evidence, describes a new technology that becomes known as the ‘nest’. It starts off as a basic personal movement tracking app, which eventually becomes all-consuming, totally invasive. Eventually, billionaires move their nests off-world as the science became too powerful.
Similar questions about the nature of humanity and its relationship with technology at a hugely precarious time are raised by the EP and novel. However, cut and dried answers aren’t provided by either. After all, that’s not the job of Coulson and MacInnes. They are artists trying to make sense of the bedlam. They don’t have to provide the solutions.
Asylums with doors open wide Where people had paid to see inside For entertainment they watch his body twist Behind his eyes he says, "I still exist"Joy Division ‘Atrocity Exhibition’
MetroGlow’s Synthetik: the sophomore release
Seven short months ago, when MetroGlow’s debut cassette was released, your humble correspondent wrote: “Kraftwerk Meine Liebe is just the start of MetroGlow’s voyage.” On reflection, that’s a slightly silly thing to have written. After all, every journey starts somewhere!
However, I would wager even Crispin Coulson is surprised how much ground he’s covered in such a short period.
After all, not everyone’s first release has music aficionado Mark Radcliffe, BBC 6 Music DJ in perfecter, waxing lyrical about one of your songs (which Bolton’s finest did about Kraftwerk Meine Liebe).
MetroGlow’s Synthetik: the review
With the follow-up release, Synthetik, Crispin has taken his own blueprint and created something bigger. More substantial. Robust even. While the kosmische and Blade Runner influences are prominent, Synthetik seems more confident. Indeed, title track ‘Synthetik’ and the satirical ‘Computer Commuter’ (lyric: Work all day/Work all night) wouldn’t look out of place propping up your local nightclub’s bar with eyes firmly on the dancefloor.
‘Artificial Life’ ponders on the nature of humanity as it becomes increasingly merged with technology as Donna Haraway wrote about so many years ago. It jauntily bounces along with an insistent Vangelis motif and the repeated refrain ‘More human than human, that is our motto.’ If you know, you know. This track is probably MetroGlow’s most traditional song with AI replacing a bona fide vocalist. The (un)human voice re-stating William Faulkner’s adage ‘the aim of every artist is to arrest motion’. It is, in fact, quite arresting.
Two instrumentals bookend this vibrant collection. ‘Memories (SAD)’ is anything but sad. In fact, it may be MetroGlow’s most upbeat number. ‘Goodbye 2 U’ (a bonus track on the accompanying download) brings to mind Aphex Twin’s playful side. Hardly any fade-out at all. Quite an abrupt goodbye. Always leave them wanting more.
Both MetroGlow and MacInnes have documented their view of the world as they see it and have asked the listener/reader to take a moment to consider the situation. To paraphrase Faulkner, like good artists, they have ‘stopped motion’. I cannot wait for their respective third releases.
MetroGlow’s Synthetik EP is available now. Martin MacInnes’ third novel, In Ascension, is published in February 2023. Donna Haraway is an American Professor Emerita at the University of California, Santa Cruz, United States. William Faulkner, widely considered the greatest writer of US Southern literature, died in 1962.