A Situation

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Electro trio Wrangler, consisting of Stephen Mallinder (Cabaret Voltaire), Ben Edwards (Benge), and Phil Winter (Tunng), harness old technology in order to create futuristic music, playing vintage synths and sequencers in a loose, improvisational way. A Situation, the group's third album, sounds similar to the first two, except this time there's a greater presence of lyrics, and the songs sound more urgent. This is entirely out of necessity, given the increasingly tumultuous state of the world, and the album addresses this directly. "Machines Designed (To Eat You Up)" is a roll call of spyware, surveillance systems, smart devices, and other inescapable things which rob us of our privacy, while "Mess" (as in "it's a f*cking mess") addresses the toxicity of the internet, referring to its "hyperspeed germology." While it's hard to even process everything that's going on, let alone attempt to find a solution, Mallinder at least encourages listeners to take action and make a difference, particularly on the commanding "How to Start a Revolution." Even though the underlying message of the album is quite serious, the music itself is playful rather than bleak or cathartic. The tracks are a mixture of twitchy minimal techno, electro-pop, and the rigid machine funk of EBM acts like Nitzer Ebb. "Rhizomatic" has bouncy, Kraftwerk-inspired melodies, while the dark, driving "A Situation" nearly sounds like an older Matthew Dear cut. The situation of the world might be increasingly dire, but Wrangler aren't entering panic mode just yet. They still feel that something can be done about all of this, and being able to have fun, dance, and create music helps immensely.

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