Ford & Lopatin – Channel Pressure

written by: June 23, 2011
Release Date: June 7, 2011


Ford & Lopatin used to be known as Games. They’ve changed their name and released an electronic album that will have you double take your opinions on the genre itself. Channel Pressure opens with a glimmering, shiny, “in the clouds” instrumental-pad that tricks you into thinking the album will be ambient, but then once you start to close your eyes the ambience is cut short and you’re attacked with glitch effects left and right.

After this intro, Ford & Lopatin kick off their first song with heavily processed keyboards and a simple beat that has you wondering, “Is this trying to be Toro y Moi?” But they quickly show you something else as they spice up the title track with cheesy samples of brass instruments that you might hear in an elevator. At this point, Ford & Lopatin sound like your typical electronic band trying to be retro, but for some reason you keep listening. You couldn’t pull yourself away if you tried. It’s not like it’s a guilty pleasure album of retro music, it tastes like an authentic ’80s album.

However, the next song, “Emergency Room,” will make you realize this album goes a bit further than just being electro, retro, or as I have started calling this album when I tell people about it “pseudo-retro.” “Emergency Room” (like other tracks on the album) is poppy enough to be a radio single, but they mark them with scarlet letters of glitched-out instrumentals and sound effects to throw it all off. The vocal layers might remind you of Junior Senior and will have you questioning what kind of band Ford & Lopatin is—this album is more than just a few bass lines, synth samples and drum beats looped over with different effects turned on at different times.

The reason you’ll want to listen to Ford & Lopatin is because they have a sense of play and humor with their music, which is extremely refreshing for a genre, like electronic music, that’s at the end of its frontier. Where else is there to go with electronic sounds? At this point, one could argue it’s just a matter of combining all the different possible rhythms with all the different possible melodies before all human comprehension of music is no longer explorable.

Even if this is so, these two guys make the most of their machines and their sense of play that brings the album to life. Take the song “Too Much MIDI (Please Forgive Me)” where there are fuzzy synths and a guitar solo that make you feel like you’re listening to the “Top Gun” soundtrack if you haven’t already been feeling the strong ’80s influence, but while this happens the guys actually are singing some of the catchiest hooks with some of the most brow-raising lyrics you’ve heard in a while. The line infectious hook of that song, “too much lo-fi,” will be remembered as one of the best hooks of 2011.

The best allure of Channel Pressure is that the song-to-song transitions are so smooth that you’ll think the interludes that separate the album into four distinct sections are part of the songs themselves, which establishes the album as a whole composition, not just 14 of the best tracks they cut after all the recording sessions put next to each other.

“Joey Rogers” is a singalong before the end of its first listen, which is whose journey the album is about. The album was written around a loose concept of this kid Joey Rogers fighting off robots in the future and his only weapon is MIDI. Though the concept was funny, it did not make or break the album. Listeners who don’t know about this “concept” will still enjoy the album. If anything, the concept is just another funny part of the whole band; you don’t need it to get into the album or understand the context.

The reason you’ll hear more about Ford & Lopatin this year is that, while they are relying heavily on old instruments and sounds, they are also using the most futuristic processing and editing techniques to ensure that every single glitch beat and “chopped up and inside out” effect is placed  with exquisite taste. Think of it like a gourmet pizza you’d have to pay $500 for, and each slice is just one song and the ingredients are sprinkled lightly and evenly, but not too evenly throughout the whole pizza. It is still greasy and cheesy, but not too greasy and cheesy—it’s just the right amount.

Ford & Lopatin – Channel Pressure Tracklist:

  1. “Softscum”
  2. “Channel Pressure”
  3. “Emergency Room”
  4. “Rock Star Paranoia”
  5. “Too Much MIDI (Please Forgive Me)”
  6. “New Planet”
  7. “The Voices”
  8. “Joey Rogers”
  9. “Dead Jammer”
  10. “Break Inside”
  11. “I Surrender”
  12. “Green Fields”
  13. “World Of Regret”
  14. “G’s Dream”