Imagine if someone had left a drum machine on the doorstep of the punk revolution. How different would musical history have been painted. The lo fi attack of strident guitars interspersed with the metallic glint of drum machines and the chilled stripes of synthesisers. I’m not suggesting that Alt Delete’s compilation Digital Penetration is necessarily the harbinger of a new musical horizon but it does represent something for the greater good.
For a start off you get twenty tracks for a fiver so in terms of cost alone there’s a backward glance to yesteryear. What you get is a collection of bright young things shambling into action. A next generation of indie disco that today’s digi generation could possibly look back on in their dotage with a moist eye and a trembling lip (amongst other things). Some of the bands on offer may fall by the wayside but for now they are a bunch worth celebrating.
The production is gloriously cheap, you remember the fuzzy twang of late seventies/early eighties guitars (and if you don’t then educate yourself). A time when women sang in either a wistful or urgent fashion and the men pushed deep for a baritone monotone. It’s all here.
The influences are splashed all over with glorious abandon. Every track riding in with economic length and a hybrid mix of rock and electronica. Shreds of Joy Division, flailing remnants of the New York CBGB sound and the Teutonic clatter of Kraftwerk.
Whereas so much in electronica pushes for a glass like perfection and a polish you can see your face in this compilation moves in the opposite direction. Whether it is Shit Disco’s rag tag homage to their peers or the “almost but not quite” electroclash slam of Presets “Are You The One”. The Neon Plastix deliver a wiry brand of guitar pop that wouldn’t have been out of place in the NME’s mid eighties indie chart, however they regurgitate the cheesiest house piano line over the top of it, marvellous stuff.
Revel9n and Dandi Wind come on like Lene Lovich’s amphetamine fuelled offspring while Crystal Castles drops in with a choppy Japanese styled vocal cut up bleep track. One of the stranger offerings is Corey Dargel’s “I Don’t Remember” which sounds like Aled Jones after his balls dropped while simultaneously suffering a psychotic episode.
Familiar offerings aren’t readily available here the one that springs to mind is Cut Copy’s swooning cover of Going Nowhere (with Hot Chip on remixing duties). Its filtered slide almost seems out of place in this collection but it doesn’t do the album any injustice by its presence. In fact although some tracks are better than others they all deserve the space they are given. As a whole this is one those collections that may or may not stick its head above the parapet and win mainstream approval.
As a whole though it’s a suitable reminder of a musical DIY ethos that has never gone away, its simply kicked and screamed its way into the 21st Century.