Title: Like a signal from another world
Author: Evan Burnett
Publish date: July 2004
It's very refreshing when an Artist returns from a hiatus, and offers up new music which not only meets, but EXCEEDS all expectations. Such is the case with Paul Humphreys & Claudia Brucken. These Electronic Pop pioneers have collaborated on a new project, which they've called Onetwo.
The first release is a 5-track EP which they've curiously decided to call Item. No doubt a reference to eBay lingo for things which are sold on said internet site.
Item is a pleasant surprise from two Artists who have been rather enigmatic & silent in recent years. Fans of both Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark and Propaganda will immediately home in on the similarities between Onetwo's new originals & the past work of both bands. But just as obvious is the freshness & originality of the new material. The beauty of it is that even if you've got no attachment to either OMD or Propaganda, this recording is sure to win you over with it's pure pop brilliance.
The EP kicks off with the poignant mid-tempo ballad "Sister". Sadly, it's also the only track on the release to feature Humphreys on Lead vocals. The subject matter is obviously quite personal for Humphreys, as it touches on how he has coped with the death of his older sister. It's trademark late-80's era OMD all the way, and has radio play potential written all over it. The lyrics are very touching, but the song comes off very well without becoming cheesy or trite. This song is clearly one which Humphreys makes his own. His skills as both a songwriter & musician have clearly improved with time. Ditto for his voice. He seldom took over Lead Vocals for his former band. But when he did, it was always a bit of a treat for OMD fans. And "Sister" is perhaps his finest hour yet.
Next up is "Cloud Nine". The special attraction of this particular track is the involvement of Depeche Mode's Martin Gore, who co-wrote & contributed guitar work to the song. Martin Gore seldom works outside the confines of the world-famous group which he built, and even rarer is the fact that this song is one of the first original pieces of music that he has written outside of Depeche Mode. Martin's involvement notwithstanding, "Cloud Nine" is well arranged & executed by Claudia Brucken. Whose talent as a songwriter & composer are severely under-rated. She sounds fantastic on "Cloud Nine". And the guitar solo toward the end of the track is ripped right from Depeche Mode's Violator era. Another high potential single for radio rotation.
"Cloud Nine" is followed by the ambient groove "Element Of Truth". This track starts off with some ethereal other-worldly noises that immediately recall of OMD's masterpiece Dazzle Ships album. "Element Of Truth" is the most experimental & daring of the songs on the EP. Of worthy note is the haunting (real) violin solo, which blends perfectly with the synths & lush arrangements. And Claudia's vocals cap it all off with a sensual urgency. Emote, Baby!!! Yeah!!!
"Signals" is next, and also the last new song on the EP. Onetwo have successfully captured the feel of their idols on this one. Kraftwerk's influence is all over the place on "Signals." This is an especially potent foot-tapper, and is sure to be the fan favourite on the EP. It has the right balance of old school melody & new technology. If OMD had produced a Kraftwerk track back in the day, this is likely what it would sound like. All that's missing is the Vocoder.
Finally we have "One & Only (Sister)", which is a somewhat watered down remix of the first track. While the reason for its inclusion somewhat befuddles me, it sounds great nonetheless. Although another new track would've been preferred. However, if this is the only real weak spot on the EP, that speaks volumes about the quality of Item as a whole. And it certainly does.
Item is a must-have. I found it to be very accessible, and above all.....enjoyable. I was very skeptical prior to my first listen. But all doubts are soon swept away upon listening to the arrangement & execution of each track It's total Ear-candy. Aural Sex even. And unlike the vast majority of modern Synth-Pop or Electro-Pop, it doesn't get old after the first few listens. There's nothing disposable about it.
If this is any indication of what Onetwo are all about, we can look forward to future releases with great anticipation.