Vic Mars – The Consumer Programme

Vic Mars – The Consumer Programme

Having happily come to our attention previously via The Land And The Garden LP in 2015, courtesy of the cherishable hands at Clay Pipe Music, Vic Mars now finds himself on the equally endearing Polytechnic Youth imprint for another marriage made in micro-label heaven.  Although such a switch shouldn’t matter much, it’s a move that’s entirely fitting with the subtle but significant stylistic shifts at play.  So whilst the nostalgic pastoralism of The Land And The Garden sat well in the pyschogeographical-centric Clay Pipe catalogue, the analogue-electronica miniatures of The Consumer Programme are a near-perfect transfer dealmaking currency for joining the Polytechnic Youth team.

Those who checked out the burbling and intimate pleasures of last year’s Bandcamp-only bucolic yet retro-futuristic Plant Life album – which PY owner Dom Martin certainly did – should have a fair idea of what to expect here. Yet there are also some deeper and more eclectic corners that Mars delvers into this time around.  Like his nearest bedfellow and fellow polymathic labelmate Oliver Cherer (The Assistant, Australian Testing Labs Inc. et al.) Mars is both a vintage tech boffin and a sonic omnivore with an ear for grooves, melody and fine tantalising details.  Consequently, whilst The Consumer Programme leaves behind much of the conceptualism of previous releases, its diverse yet focused vignettes string-together nicely with both warmth and invention.

Hence, we’re treated to a broad selection of wordless synth and drum machine driven compositions that cover a lot of well-plotted terrain.  For starters, this includes joining the dots between the glistening pulsing pleasures of Listening Center’s Cycles/Other Phenomena and charmingly idealistic late-‘70s/early-‘80s British TV science programme soundtracks (“The Leisure Centre”, “The Consumer Programme” and “Soced”).  Whilst in other places the pioneers of classic kosmische are given generous tributes (for the mysterious Tangerine Dream-like “Lloeren”, the whirring Cluster-channelling blissfulness of “The Intermission” and the lush but loose Ralf Und Florian-era Kraftwerk serenity of “A Hillman To Berlin”).

Elsewhere, even more intriguingly, Mars also takes some darker more elusive influences and re-renders them with lightness and more accessible definition.  Thus, “Kosmos 582” unpeels like a radiance-injected Mountains; “Roced” and “Popular Mechanics” imagine Suicide drifting into deep space rather than grinding in the gutter; “Galaeth 1&2” might be mistaken for something Throbbing Gristle left off 20 Jazz Funk Greats for sounding too pretty; and “Astrogator” could be Clinic given a soothing ambient arabesque-tinged Brian Eno remix.

Whether swallowed whole or cherry-picked for its many individually great moments, The Consumer Programme is a feast for both old hands and newcomers to the Polytechnic Youth world alike.  Snooze and lose on this one at your peril…

Polytechnic Youth