WARM DIGITS aka Newcastle based Andrew Hodson and Steve Jefferis released their third album Wireless World, and first for Memphis Industries, on 4th August 2017.
In the words of legendary DJ/producer Andrew Weatherall, Warm Digits create “Machine funk kraut-a-delia – it’s rather lovely!” Warm Digits’ brew of live drums, guitar and electronics betray a love of Neu!, Kraftwerk, Giorgio Moroder, My Bloody Valentine and Boards Of Canada. Motorik percussion, electronic basslines, Keith Levene-style guitar chops and squelchy analogue warmth are accompanied by live visuals in performances that have graced the Psych Fests of both London and Liverpool, seen them support the likes of Goblin, Modeselektor, ESG, St. Etienne, Moon Duo and many more, toured the UK with British Sea Power and blown the audience away at Supersonic and many other festivals. Their blistering live sets of “krautophonic blizzard-wave” have to be seen to be believed.
For their new recording, the band have sharpened up the elements of their sound for a set of crisp, propulsive and melodically rich songs, and for the first time on selected songs have collaborated with some of their favourite vocalists: Peter Brewis of Field Music, Sarah Cracknell of Saint Etienne, Devon Sproule, and Mia La Metta of Beards.
Wireless World is loosely themed around a present-day that teeters between progress and collapse. The band explain, “Our experience of the world and our states of mind are shaped and thrilled by unimaginably exciting leaps in technology, and yet that world will only last for a few moments as we fail to find a way to act collectively on rising temperatures, the failures of democracy and the unstoppable hunger for exploitation of the ground under our feet. This record is our attempt to make music from our experience of this present that teeters between celebration and devastation.”
These themes are evident throughout the record. The first single taken from the album, “End Times” features vocals from Peter Brewis of Field Music, who has taken the contemporary atmosphere of looming catastrophe and filtered it through the song’s incipient funk and disco flavours.
“Wireless World” examines the infinite produce of human ingenuity and the featureless black slabs in our pockets which we take for granted. But those invisible signals coursing around us are still a mystery, only now we depend on them. This song is a humming, wobbling celebration, aiming for the midpoint between the hypnotism of krautrock and the euphoria of techno.
In “Better Friction” Mia La Metta’s vocals add a glam stomp to the krautrock metronome, a song about how no type of power or technology is without its own myths and legends.. There’s more magic in the air on “Growth of Raindrops” as Sarah Cracknell invokes nature’s habit of being persistently poetic and beautiful despite our best efforts to get rid of it.
As the ideas for this album were starting to form, there were reports of earthquakes in Blackpool due to exploratory fracking (near to Andrews’s home town). “We started to hear the hydraulics and explosions of fracking, and the seismic activity that follows, in the distorted electronic depths of the song we were working on at the time, and here it is: “Fracking Blackpool.””
In “The Rumble and the Tremor”, Devon Sproule articulates the ambivalence of a power station which provides employment for a deprived area but at what cost? “The future is paid for by the rumble and the tremor”. The album ends with “Swallow The City” – the tidal wave will come eventually so let’s plan for a good ending.
Warm Digits have also been busy with an array of collaborations and multimedia projects, notably writing and performing the film score for Asunder – a documentary film exploring the impact of World War One on the North-East. It is a collaboration with Field Music and Royal Northern Sinfonia, writer Bob Stanley and filmmaker Esther Johnson recently performed at the Barbican Centre.