Soft Error: Mechanism LP

A ‘soft error’ is computer language for a faulty occurrence in a digital memory system that changes an instruction in a program or a data value. When associated with music making, it’s a name that inevitably suggest the notion, or even celebration, of happenstance and serendipity, and that’s certainly part of the spirit evoked by Mechanism, the seductive, widescreen debut album from instrumental duo Soft Error. A largely electronic pairing, Soft Error are otherwise known as Tim and Rupert, both of whom have musical backgrounds in dance music/DJ culture and composition for film, theatre and TV, respectively. Soft Error, however, represents a thrilling new artistic beginning rather than being simply another musical ‘project’. Recorded at Valgeir Sigurðsson’s renowned Greenhouse Studio in Reykjavik, Iceland (a kind of neutral ground, as Rupert is based in London, Tim in Paris), Mechanism certainly proffers a very fresh and singular brand of musical intrigue by reaching back and forward simultaneously – to the innovative, propulsive thrum of 1970s Krautrock and the grainy textures and preternatural tonalities of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop on one hand and to the symphonic, futuristic soundscapes of composers like Cliff Martinez, John Carpenter and Jon Hopkins on the other. That said, there is also something wonderfully timeless about the album’s nine, finely wrought essays, across which synthesisers, keyboards and drum machines are deployed for their sonic and emotion-stirring possibilities, rather than as a nod to any particular niche or trend. Indeed, it’s Soft Error’s enviable facility for fashioning both intimate textural detail and strong melody – often in the same song – that distinguishes them; that, along with an obvious immunity from stylistic prescriptiveness and an Eno-like ability to comprehend that ‘soft errors’ in the studio are not always problematic.