Scatter Factory – self-titled

scatter-factory-album-cover

Scatter Factory – self-titled

As it begins, the opening track of Scatter Factory’s album “Catatonic Voyage” seems as if it could take nearly any musical direction. The atonal and metallic first twenty seconds might lead into some clubby drum and bass electronica, a country-psyche guitar number, or even a full on prog rock anthem. In the event, “Catatonic Voyage” does none of these things; over its six or so minutes it is an ambient, vaguely oriental instrumental that relies on a minimalist set-up to put its idea across, and for all the ambiences on display there’s a polished, practised sound that takes the mechanical coldness of the sampling and provides it with a glimmering warmth.  What it won’t do is induce actual catatonia in its listeners, as the samples hiss and collide with occasional percussive interjections.

After a career in music that has seen him work alongside members of Suede, with the Fratellis and Martina Topley-Bird, Will Foster, whose project Scatter Factory is, has made the album that you’d suspect he has waited some considerable time to complete, one that can stand comparison alongside acknowledged influences such as Japan, Talk Talk and This Mortal Coil. Certainly, The music on this eponymous set is nearer to Ruyichi Sakamoto’s mid-’80s experimentalism than Bernard Butler’s effect-overdriven guitar pyrotechnics. And the record’s second track (also its featured single) “Out The Blocks” sees Foster taking one of Neu!’s cues and bringing his own take on their purposeful repetition. It’s also perhaps the album’s most energetic moment, as much of the music on Scatter Factory is about minimalism and electronic subtleties rather than beating us over the head with the sequencers, interspersed with moments of sudden clarity.

This is most apparent with probable album highlight “PowWow”, the one track present that could most easily translate into an actual song, right from its crashing percussive intro, through its comparatively laid back verse and the suddenly brilliant mid section, which takes the track off in another direction entirely. Perhaps it belongs on another album, and with a motivational lyric and vocal similar to Talk Talk’s “Life’s What You Make It” or one of Tears For Fears livelier moments. Much of the music on Scatter Factory is reminiscent of the glossier end of mid-’80s synth-pop, although without seeming too nostalgic or indeed derivative, and as Will Foster gives his musical imagination full rein, it isn’t hard to see why his musicianship has been in demand constantly for around two decades.

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