Mastersystem started on a hot day in Berlin about two years ago, but – in truth – the project’s roots go back much further. Almost adolescent in tone, it’s an expression of those years spent dwelling in sacred bedrooms, listening to Sub Pop’s initial catalogue at ear-splitting volumes, while their parents banged on the door.
Essentially bonding the Hutchison brothers – Scott and Grant – from Frightened Rabbit, with Justin Lockey (Editors) and James Lockey (Minor Victories), it’s a classic four-piece rock line up, taut and concise in its execution.
Wearing its influences on its flannel sleeve, debut album ‘Dance Music’ is an unfettered distillation of frayed rock sounds. Absolute grunge delirium, opener ‘Proper Home’ flicks the volume up to 11, while ‘The Enlightenment’ opens with raw, blistering chords, before smashing down on a fuzz pedal for a raucous, scorching chorus.
‘Peaks & Troughs & Graves’ boasts an urgent, throat-filling performance from Scott Hutchison, completely removing him from Frightened Rabbit’s disciplined indie-folk approach. ‘A Waste Of Daylight’ applies some shoegaze-like guitar effects, coming close to Swervedriver’s unjustly neglected masterpiece ‘Mezcal Head’ in its potent execution.
Remarkably succinct, ‘Dance Music’ features a mere nine tracks, only two of which go beyond the three-minute mark. It feels like a gasp, a sudden exhalation, a very adult version of teenage angst, or – as Scott himself puts it – “the anxiety of a man in his mid-30s”.
It’s sonically self-conscious, yet done with such love, such precision, that it’s difficult to shrug off. It’s bold, carefree, and gripping throughout, with centrepiece ‘Old Team’ representing the sound of teenage dreams being fulfilled some two decades on.
The only question left is, will there be a sequel? Perhaps they could name it Mega Drive and go for 16Bit splendour…
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