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The Focus Groop - Stop-Motion Happening album review

Disorientating whispers of the modern otherworld from The Focus Groop

The Focus Groop - Stop-Motion Happening album artwork

Generally, a focus group will end up giving you something bland and beige, a lowest common denominator which nobody particularly loathes but nobody especially loves. Not this Focus Groop. _Stop-_Motion Happening is an unnerving, fairly bonkers stream of treated electronica and samples which absolutely refuses to do anything conventional. It’s as if wayward ghosts of Italian horror movie soundtracks, the spirit of psychedelia and a spaceship full of pissed-off computers were having an argument, a bunch of bleeps, glitches and whistles to sceptics, but deeply engaging experimentation to those onside. It’s the fifth album from the sometime Broadcast collaborator, graphic artist Julian House, known perhaps primarily for his sleeve designs for everyone from Can and Stereolab to Oasis and Primal Scream. Quoting Marshall McLuhan regarding the sensory over-stimulation of our current world, it hits you with a series of brief, unsettling yet somehow rational sounds and noises. One moment you’re trapped on the set of Play School, the next you’re wrestling with Hal as Stanley Kubrick looks on, stroking his beard. At seven minutes, Medium In The Mirror is by far the longest, most cohesive freaky visitation. Coldly challenging.

Chris Roberts has written about music, films, and art for innumerable outlets. His new book The Velvet Underground is out April 4. He has also published books on Lou Reed, Elton John, the Gothic arts, Talk Talk, Kate Moss, Scarlett Johansson, Abba, Tom Jones and others. Among his interviewees over the years have been David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Bryan Ferry, Al Green, Tom Waits & Lou Reed. Born in North Wales, he lives in London.