Chrome Tape

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When words like "draining" and "exhausting" are used in connection with music, the artist is usually playing something heavy and extreme like death metal, metalcore, or really dense free jazz -- not poppy boy/girl music with synthesizers. But Motormark's poppy boy/girl music with synthesizers has so much nervous energy that Chrome Tape can, in fact, be draining -- not draining in the ferocious, suffocating way that Slayer and post-1965 John Coltrane are draining, but draining nonetheless. On Chrome Tape, the Scottish male/female duo takes an alternative pop/rock/electroclash approach that is often spastic, hyper, and downright frantic. Motormark members Jane Motoro (lead vocals, bass, keyboards) and Marko Polo Roid (lead vocals, guitar, keyboards) bring a long list of direct or indirect influences to this 43-minute CD (which was released in the U.K. in 2004 and the U.S. in 2005), and they include Ladytron, the B-52's, Atari Teenage Riot, and Sonic Youth (among others). Clearly, Motormark gets a lot of inspiration from the infectious pop quirkiness of late-'70s/early-'80s new wave -- especially the B-52's. But Chrome Tape is much more abrasive and noisy than anything the B-52's ever did, and ultra-nervous tracks like "We Are the Public" and "That's What You Say When You Want Me to Kill You" give the impression that Motoro and Roid have been consuming way too much caffeine. Occasionally, Motormark slows things down and provides material that is moody and shadowy rather than manic; when that happens, the duo detours into somewhat Garbage-like territory. But more often than not, Chrome Tape thrives on highly caffeinated intensity. For all its anger and in-your-face punkiness, this is a fun album. In contrast to all the deeply introspective, ultra-serious music that has come from alternative pop/rock in the '90s and 2000s, this CD has a real sense of fun -- and for those who can handle Motormark's abundance of spastic energy, Chrome Tape is a rewarding example of what the Scottish twosome has to offer.

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