ImaJinary Friends / Spectrum

Interface/Come Out to Play

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Recorded in 1995 but not released until 2000, the Imajinary Friends' five tracks on this split CD are retro-futuristic pop songs that recall the cooler, artier end of late-'70s and early-'80s synth pop (think early Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Thomas Leer, or the Normal) updated to include post-My Bloody Valentine eruptions of noise and sound-for-sound's-sake ambience. The opening "Glitch" is a relatively concise and even catchy pop song, but each track after that is just a little weirder than the one that came before. "Cheap Thrills," for example, starts out as a moaning soul tune with slowed-down tape vocals but then slips into a bouncy little computer-generated tune that will be on the soundtrack when robots start making porn films, and "Syndrome" is like hardcore punk for computer nerds. Of Spectrum's two tunes, the odder is the brief "Against the Grain," which consists of echoed whirrs, bloops, and crackles played through an Echoplex unit and layered on top of each other higgledy-piggledy. The ten-minute "Taste the Night" is much more typical, but this smooth, trancy exploration of familiar drones and hums isn't one of Sonic Boom's most inspired works.

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