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Listening blindly to 'The Damage Is Done', the first full-length from Hot Coins, it's a challenge to pinpoint exactly where it was created and what the main inspiration was. It clearly takes influence from previous electronic music, and almost feels like the work of an American group trying to recreate the electronic sounds that sprung up in Eastern Europe in the 1970s. Despite the hugely important scenes making headway with this new musical technology across the Atlantic in Chicago, Philadelphia and New York, there's something cold and industrial about these beats and often dead-pan vocals. The origin of these songs could be a puzzle without reading the press blurb. Interestingly, it appears that that pick and choose approach is exactly what's made this album sound like a trans-Atlantic look to electronic music's past.
The brains behind Hot Coins is Danny Berman (also known as Red Rack'em), a man born in Scotland and attempting to pay homage to 1970s New York counter-culture, mixing early disco, electronica, post-punk, house and techno, all from his base in Berlin. Suddenly it all makes sense (well, apart from the Scottish part, we didn't see that coming!). Single 'Geek Emotions' feels primitive and industrial, the vocals cold and devoid of passion (this is a compliment by the way) emulating those continental pioneers.There are warmer sounds; 'New Beats' almost replicates the music you may have heard in America's burgeoning club scene of the early 1980s, but the vocal this time brings a more modern twist. On 'Leathered' the influence moves away from dance ever so slightly, looking more to the bleak sounds of European post-punk mixed with early hip-hop techniques; it's lots of recycled parts creating something new.
The funky 'Freestyle Lover' has instant appeal and would make an ideal single, being less niche than much here, 'Confined' also keeps the pace up and the interest high with some elastic bass and old-school beats. More cutting noise appears again on 'Foxxy', maybe not the easiest listen but one of the best and a real trip to the past; 'Blizzard' is, appropriately, cold and slightly robotic, feeling a bit like a stop-gap, but a good one nonetheless. The mammoth 'Road Trip' throws in just about everything, but just how successful it is will be subjective as its dreampop leanings clash with the rest of the album (a good thing in our book). The general feel of 'The Damage Is Done' is that of a very good album rather than an exceptional one, but that's more than most achieve, plus Hot Coins may be taking a magpie approach yet he's creating sounds that aren't a facsimile of the past, more an interesting reinterpretation, and for that he deserves praise.
Hot Coins' website
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