Model 500 - Control / The Messenger (20 Feb R&S Records)
Model 500's triumphant return with OFI led to much rejoicing, and it understandably made many people's record of the year last year. The pounding techno undercarriage, coupled with maniacal electro riffs and magic Juan back in full force with epic rants about the mothership, time travel and dimensional shift, made for a genre-crossing dancefloor destroyer. Model 500's latest 12" however sees Juan setting control for the heart of the sun and heading into far more cosmic territory, layering up floaty synths and woogy-woogy theramin melodies that are all kinds of awesome. Despite Model 500's reputation for hell-for-leather electronic madness, both sides of the 12" are heavily influenced by the kind of machine-driven bleep-techno that Sleeparchive and Mika Vainio have made their mainstay, with Control translating analogue fetishism into a rolling italo number, replete with vocodered vox and flailing synth lines. It ought to be a jarring clash of styles, but Atkins weaves together the underlying fascinations with analogue equipment to create a brilliantly uncomfortable piece of machine funk. I can't say the vocoder impresses me, but it does add to the whole "this is detroit electro... in space!" vibe. The Messenger is less scattershot, boosting the theremin to the forefront of the mix and thankfully cutting out the vocals, it makes for a suitably epic B-side, that frankly outshines the A.
My only criticism of this record is that Model 500 seem straightjacketed by the electro template, unable to move beyond high-speed synth riffs and hip-hop beats, and admittedly neither track does much to change this. However, between Control's anashamedly retro sound and The Messenger's epic cosmic feel, there's plenty to like about it.