Warm Digits' second album Interchange was originally part of Half Memory, an art initiative driven by the Tyne & Wear Archives that allowed local artists to use its artifacts as inspiration for works celebrating the area's history. Images of the construction of Metro, the region's biggest civil engineering project in the '70s, piqued the band's creativity, resulting in this audiovisual piece that expands on the sounds and ideas on Keep Warm ... With the Warm Digits. They'd already shown their local pride with songs like "Trans-Pennine Express," and it was certainly serendipitous that their music's roots date back to Metro's beginnings. However, Warm Digits dig deeper on Interchange, playing with shifting layers of nostalgia and futurism. There's a knowing fondness for the optimism of the mid-20th century, when it seemed like life could only get better and easier via technology and industry: "Working for a Better Future," which, with its bubbly synths and a beat as consistent as an assembly line, feels like a hip take on the relentlessly cheery music that soundtracked the era's industrial films. On their debut, Warm Digits injected new life into Krautrock and shoegaze, styles that are often kept in a nostalgic bubble. Once again, they prove they can evoke any emotion with a Motorik rhythm, from the playful confidence of "The Office of the Control Inspector" to the serene beauty of "The Connected Coast" (which also recalls Stereolab's early-'90s fusion of Krautrock and dream pop). Likewise, the expert tension and release that made Keep Warm… engaging from start to finish returns, with an emphasis on order versus chaos. "Cut and Cover"'s lockstep beats and synths evoke machines working in perfect harmony (with a dash of BBC Radiophonic Workshop sci-fi awe) until a jagged, all-too-human guitar solo throws a spanner into the works, while "Tyneside Electrics" transforms from cool efficiency to charged funk. Songs such as "Terminus," which melds flute-like synths and fuzzed-out guitars that suggest high-speed trains streaking by, are plenty vivid even without the lively visuals the band made from photos and footage of the Metro's construction. Similarly, Warm Digits don't need a concept to make their music interesting, but they sound truly inspired as they explore the different facets of the project they were commissioned to do and the project that sparked it. Ultimately, Interchange is an optimistic, widely enjoyable album despite its high-concept origins.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares
Track Listing - Disc 1