I LIKE TRAINS: KOMPROMAT (Atlantic Curve) - review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Atlantic Curve

Oct 28, 2020 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

If you were looking for an album that summed up the dystopian shit show known as 2020 then you’d be hard-pressed to find a better one than KOMPROMAT the first album in eight years from UK collective I LIKE TRAINS.

The Yorkshire quintet—who describe themselves as being “miserable since 2004”—return with an album that retains their brooding cinematic majesty and propensity for elegiac lyrics, but is a very different sounding beast, to their previous works. When the band began they’d often base their work around historical characters and events covering subject matter as diverse as The Beeching Report, polar expeditions, the plague epidemic of 1665, and chess champion Bobby Fisher’s infamous rematch with Boris Spassky. Of course, the band have explored other avenues since, as historical post-rock could be viewed as something of a niche market. They referenced the Earth’s demise and global warming on He Who Saw the Deep and they released a concept album, The Shallows, based on Nicholas Carr’s Pulitzer Prize-nominated book of the same name—a book that puts forward the view that deep analytical thought is being usurped to the shallow distraction of the internet and as such rather than giving us knowledge is, in fact, fostering ignorance. In some ways their fifth album covers some of those themes albeit in an updated, expanded, and totally unique way.

KOMPROMAT (short in Russian for “compromising material”) is more post-punk than post-rock and that edgy razor sharp energy is very much suited to the album’s subject matter and tone. The initial spark of inspiration for KOMPROMAT began back in 2013 following Edward Snowden’s National Security Agency leaks. As time passed it was further informed by with the rise of populism, leading ultimately to the ghastly orange visage of Donald Trump in the White House, bungling haystack-haphazardly-stuffed-into-a-suit Boris Johnson entering 10 Downing Street, as well as the divisive nature of Brexit, fake news, and Russian information wars with the west.

Lead single “The Truth”—which was, in fact, the last track written for the album—embodies the overall atmosphere perfectly as vocalist David Martin’s staccato brooding baritone narrates, spitting out lines such as “the truth is whatever you want it to be,” “the truth is in a Moscow hotel room,” “the truth is hidden in a complex series of offshore companies.” Martin came up with the idea for the song taking a few lines each day from endless news cycles in an attempt to make sense of it all. And it’s the conceptual nature of the track that perfectly captures the Orwellian post-truth world we live in, informed by the relentless nature of the rolling 24 hour news cycles far better than a more straightforward linear narrative ever could.

The album opens with “A Steady Hand,” which is almost an of aural representation of time-lapse clouds rushing above a darkening dystopian landscape as ghostly synths and driving percussion propels the listener forward into the darkly compelling world of KOMPROMAT.

“Dig In” has the urgent paranoid energy of early Interpol, whilst the propulsive widescreen grandeur of “PRISM” is a perfect example of I LIKE TRAINS’ ability to extract dark inspiring beauty out of ostensibly bleak subject matter.

It’s a powerful and incredibly timely return from a band who have written an album that eloquently holds up a mirror to the world of misinformation, of binary political arguments, the divisive promotion of culture war, and indeed a world in which “the truth is no longer concerned with the facts.” (www.iliketrains.co.uk)

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10


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