Plectrum The Cultural Pick Reviews Baltic Fleet Towers
P-TCP readers of a select vintage may remember the BraveNew Europa vogue favoured by a brace of bands back in theearly 1980s, a virtual Moleskine note book of conotations anddenotations informing a run of sounds and source material fromBowie’s Station to Station, through to Simple Minds, SpandauBallet and Ultravox. A geo-cultural locale bordered byChristopher Isherwood novels, Cold War angst and Krafwerk’sTrans-Europe Express. It’s these same influences that simmerand shimmer throughout Baltic Fleet’s second Blow Up release,Towers. But this isn’t in any way an indulgence in foggy retro-futurism or revisionist history, far from it. Towers takes theghosts and echoes of broken unions, sleet soaked borderpatrols, noir-dark elegance/decadance and projects them intoan else-world of alternative future shocks, Eastern EuropeanMega cities under glass domes, where JG Ballard’s techno-erotisicm meets Kubrick’s sterilized cityscapes to a GiorgioMoroder soundtrack.Although for all that, Towers is played, programmed andproduced, not by a collective of anonymous auto-bots, but anactual human being, Paul Fleming, who has sculpted a portfolioof sleek, glossy soundscapes, sparring synthetic textures andbuffed rumbles, grumbles and growls that glide and collide likegiant icebergs, all the while keeping the heat of a humantouch. Take the Baltics out of the studio and into a liveenvironment (I’ve caught them in action twice) and theyblossom and boom with a thump and substance that lifts gig-goers into state of wild excitement. To paraphrase Bowie’s adcampaign for Heroes, there’s old wave, there’s Neu wave andthere’s Baltic Fleet.