Colin Bailey must love nostalgia. Or perhaps his “alter-ego” – as the MySpace page proclaims – Drums of Death does. You can’t explain his debut record, Generation Hexed, without this notion somewhere in the back of your mind.
Half the tracks are based around MIDI-style synth lines. It’s a thing of both beauty and reminiscence. Perhaps the two best examples are ‘Creak’ and ‘Everything All At Once,’ the former living and breathing by a “Castlevania”-esque keyboard line and the latter riding an elastically spiraling riff straight outta “The Legend of Zelda.”
If Bailey isn’t reminding you of his early gaming years, he’s reminding you of music he clearly grew up on – namely ’80s dance and goth pop. ‘London Teeth’ is the best song Depeche Mode didn’t write for Violator. Granted it’s a tad industrial for classic DP, but the influence is still clear. ‘Modern Age,’ somewhat counter-intuitively, rides a beat à la classic Kylie singles. Besides referencing quarter-century old video games and music, it’s obvious that Bailey also has an ear to modern pop culture. Opener ‘Karaoke’ channels the unbridled primitivism of Animal Collective with its multi-tracked hymnal vocals and minimal keyboard chimes. The difference? Whereas AC makes weird music for the sake of weird and hits a melody seemingly incidentally, Bailey does it on purpose for sport.
Then there’s ‘All These Plans,’ a spastic dance track that approaches the incitement of mass epilepsy. It’s the most original track of this fantastic collection, its influences not nearly as obvious as the rest here. That’s not a knock on the record as a whole, but for album number two Bailey should embrace the idea that wearing your influences on your sleeve only works for so long before it’s called a rip-off. But for now, Generation Hexed is a stellar disc worth your time if you’re fan of left-brained rave music.
Now, can we talk about the whole embedding-every-single-track-with-a-message-about-my-copy-of-the-album-being-a-promo thing?