This is a review of "Hearts Are Tape Machines" recorded by St Gregory Orange. The review was written by Jessica Thornsby in 2009.
'Hearts Are Tape Machines' is the first single to be lifted off 'Things We Said In Bedrooms,' the debut album from St. Gregory Orange.
'Hearts Are Tape Machines' is nigh on six minutes of ambient synths and murmured vocals and, needless to say, it isn't going to appeal to the masses. Its breathy trippiness and lengthy running time, means that your attention will probably have wandered elsewhere before 'Hearts Are Tape Machines' is even halfway finished. This is one song that's probably best approached as undemanding backing music, rather than something that'll get you hooked and humming merrily along.
'Hearts Are Tape Machines' is built on an electronic beat that's surprisingly driven, but is mostly obscured by wafting vocals and quietly gothic synths. What lyrics you can decipher, are witty and unpretentious. More enthusiastic vocals would have made it harder to overlook the lyrics, and perhaps benefited the song as a whole.
The bulk of 'Hearts Are Tapes Machines' drifts along but, if you manage to sit through the first five minutes, it does make a play for the listener's full attention during the final sixty seconds. The puttering beat and vocals are stripped away, and the synths gain a more echoey, mournful edge. It's a marginally more absorbing finale, but not one that'll leap out and grab you.
'Hearts Are Tape Machines' is supported by two B-sides, 'Framehit Blonderland' and 'Ps Good Luck With The Dying Thing.'
'Framehit Blonderland,' sets out to make the listener's skin crawl, with icy synths and ghostly voices echoing around the edges of the song, before it toughens up with crunching beats and Euro-tastic beeps. The balancing act between giving a song some drive, and crafting a spine-tingling atmosphere, is a difficult one to get right, and that scattering of harsh surface synths does distract from what's going on in the background. The tormented-sounding voices that waft about in the distance would be more affecting, if it weren't for those stronger beats bopping away in the foreground.
Third track, the sinisterly entitled 'Ps Good Luck With The Dying Thing' sees St. Gregory Orange shake off the shivering atmospherics, and go for a more conventional, synth-pop sound. St Gregory Orange takes a skittering beat and around it crafts a meticulous web of hooky synths that buzz, twang elastically, twinkle and whine. Resonating keys help bind the whole collection together, making 'Ps Good Luck With The Dying Thing' a lively, surprisingly dancey electro-fest that's bristling with sharp hooks. It's a less ambient side to St. Gregory Orange, and the thought of this song getting some airplay at your local electro night, doesn't seem too farfetched.
A-side 'Hearts Are Tape Machines' achieves what you sense it sets out to do: convey a mood. It's most likely best played in the background while you're doing something more interesting, as there's not enough there to occupy your full attention, for the full six minutes. 'Framehit Blonderland' has the makings of a similarly atmospheric mood-piece.
St. Gregory Orange is strictly for those who like their music to leave them slightly unnerved. Fans of a catchy tune, or anything you can sing along to, should steer well clear.