BARRY LONDON “T.I.R.M.L.” (Decontrol Tapes)

Life amazes me sometimes. Did you wake up today expecting to be blown away by Oneida’s synth man, Barry London? If you did, great work – you’re one step ahead of me, although your life is probably less fulfilled by surprises. Maybe you should take a good look at yourself in the mirror if sheer joy at the unanticipated escapes you. Me? I’m like a giant aquatic hog rolling around in whatever passes for giant aquatic hog filth, because I am listening to “T.I.R.M.L.” by Barry London. You don’t get to where I’m at by wandering around in a cynical fog all day long.

I wonder if Barry London was expecting to blow us away the night he wandered into Secret Project Robot—June 20, 2015, to be exact. He probably was, knowing the ace he had up his sleeve. “Technology Is Ruining My Life” (that’s what T.I.R.M.L. stands for, dummy) unfolds over side A as synth arpeggios and melodies unfurl as if the titular statement meant nothing and technology instead was ENHANCING London’s life to such a degree that he had to harness its magnificence. I mean, you gotta plug a synth into the wall, don’t you? Technology! We all know what he means, though, what with the insane proliferation of “smart” everything. London takes us back to a simpler time, when this music was meant as a soundtrack to science fiction, when the technology on screen or on the page was LITERALLY ruining the characters’ lives, and probably removing those lives from them (or coming close to it). But on that night, June 20, 2015, his synths were a time machine, and we remembered the retrofuturistic possibilities of STAR TREK and TRON and BUCKAROO BANZAI.

If “T.I.R.M.L.” is a reflection of, ahem, a life being ruined, then flip that tape for “Rental Car,” and you’ll fall in love all over again. With whatever is in front of you, essentially. Yes, “Rental Car” is London’s “Love Potion No. 9,” or WHATEVER, and he follows that with “Saturday Night Fever,” two deep analog dives that’ll have you pressing rewind pretty much every time these end. These heady nugs burrow themselves deep into your cranium and become part of your neural network, jacking in like rogue cables to the matrix or something. Taking over the pheromone release valve, probably, given all the happy vibes currently flowing through my body. So what if technology is ruining our lives? We can enjoy parts of it before we go extinct, can’t we? Like, the unexpected parts that amaze us.

Barry London
Decontrol Tapes

--Ryan Masteller