So my plan to write a very long positive cultural case for staying in the European Union is currently swimming around a diatribe against the British Government for their shameful slashing of the arts budget and disregard for artists in general. If I’m honest, it’s not the best fun to read. So while I try and find balance and a reason to stop grinding my personal axe, I thought it best to highlight how Britain is so blatantly obviously European by showcasing some brilliant tunes from across the continent. The arts are unique in that they ignore boundaries; cross-pollinating over seas and conflicts until the whole act of creation itself follows the same geographical impulse. We British are made strong by Europe. We lead and follow cultural developments whilst maintaining a personality firmly our own. The same can be said of every country in the Union; our cultures are never lost, they are clearly enhanced and strengthened. I know this. I live this. My life in Sweden is full of “well that couldn’t sound anymore Swedish if it turned out to be about Midsommar” moments about songs which, with a language change, would rule Radio 1. This is what I think I’ll try and get across as the days to this flawed plebiscite draw near. Where better to start than the 80s and Amsterdam’s own Spectral Display.
Spotify introduced me to this absolute gem of an album though I do remember MIA covering the joyous ‘It Takes A Muscle [To Fall In Love]‘ way back in 2010. New Wave was a wonderful movement full of surprisingly forward thinking song constructions that root themselves firmly to the popular spectrum. Spectral Display is no different. A wonderfully bonkers, synth-led groove of an album, dripping with unease and chaste joy. Moments of Eurythmics, Gary Newman, OMD etc. are all present, yet there is that slight, unexpected phrasing in the vocal that lifts it away from British influence toward something a little more Dutch. ‘You Don’t Know How Much I Love You’, other than coalescing my current feelings towards both Britain and the EU, broods and emotes in effortless waves of pulsing synths. It never overstretches itself but conveys a considerable heft for such a simple piece. A beautiful album, a funky album, an album worth re-visiting. European electronica at it’s finest.
To reiterate: Culture knows no boundaries. Hopefully this will become abundantly clear as the days draw on but at the very least it should show we are no different than our family over the Channel and beyond. We belong together because we are the same people, merely seen from different perspectives. I don’t have the words to explain my anger at accusations otherwise.