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*On 19th October 2018, BLANCMANGE will release a new album of ten songs
composed by Neil Arthur, and arranged, co-produced and mixed with Benge
(Wrangler/Creep Show) at the latter’s Memetune Studios in Cornwall.*

This follows their collaborative project Fader (the debut First
Light album came out in June 2017) and they also worked together on last
year’s Blancmange record Unfurnished Rooms, described by Mojo as “detached,
wistful, touched by computer-age unease.”

The new album is focussed on similar themes but there’s a new energy to the
approach, wistfulness turns to anger; dislocation morphs into a powerful
desire to be somewhere else, with a sense of someone fighting for forward
motion, dreams, family and the joys of life while seeing, as Arthur puts
it, “˜the pretence of a normal world being erased.”

This spirit is supported by the music, which is vital, percussive, full of
analogue machine-noise and chunky basslines. The opener ‘Distant Storm’
features dreamy vocoder vocals over Moroder Moogs, immediately creating a
sense of space as Arthur soul-searches. He describes the track as the
feeling when something familiar becomes unfamiliar, and for all the
potential horror in that, there’s also a sense of discovery which you can
hear in this big, horizon-eyeballing dance workout.

The edgy, propulsive ‘In Your Room’ is about being away from the world
outside. Arthur describes sunlit walls and crystal clear senses but shadows
the imagery with music that presses in – obsessive and claustrophobic
rather than restful. Meanwhile the narrator in ‘I Smashed your Phone’
recalls a domestic incident, “the consequences of which will reverberate
until eternity.” Guilty, plaintive, defensive and with a trace of anger
camouflaged as sarcasm, the phone-smasher relates the event in epic,
cinematic terms, even recalling the early primitive man scenes of 2001: A
Space Odyssey. It’s an every day incident that reveals an awful lot about
people, relationships and our interaction with technology, while the music
is another foundation-shaking synthesiser anthem.

This frustration with modern devices and the limitations of people-defining
algorithms and how such things are manipulating communication, the work
place and daily life (people behaving like machines and using each other
like robots) is also expressed through ‘Talking To Machines’. But there’s a
twist! After all the whole album is created by humans interacting with
electricity and circuits. On this track, Arthur and Benge revel in the
artificial sounds, using them like power surges underneath the John
Lennon-like vocals and early ’70s vintage beats – the ghosts at the heart
of this machine-made song.

The tracks ‘Gravel Drive Syndrome’ and ‘Not A Priority’ are most definitely
about human beings. The former is a horrific portrayal of social climbing
at any cost and the emptiness at its core, woven like an old folktale by
Arthur over an imaginary pint. Arthur describes ‘Not A Priority’ as about
“people who are apparently not seen by others, who have a sense that you
don’t count or are seen as not important.” A glimmering, ambient pop song
with fellow electronic artist Hannah Peel featuring on the chorus, this is
one of the highlights on the album, balanced between melancholy and a hope
for renewed self-belief.

Guitars break through the synthesizers on the dark ‘TV Debate’ which
features a series of channel-surfing images about contemporary politics and
vacuous celebrity shows, while Benge’s The Andromeda Strain-styled
keyboards and David Rhodes’ fret-work on ‘Leaves’ create some of the most
atmospheric moments on the LP. ‘White Circle, Black Hole’ continues the
theme of new beginnings (in this case when you’re haunted by a recurring
nightmare and at your lowest point) and the record reaches its open-road
finale on the album’s title-track, ‘Wanderlust’. This bitter-sweet song
explores the longing to be somewhere else, a craving for new experiences
and the ‘good stuff’ of living in the moment. There’s sadness in what
change can bring, as children leave home, relationships break up and so on,
but there’s also wonder in the letting go of the past and moving on.

Wanderlust is Neil Arthur’s second album in 2018, following his
collaboration with electronic solo artist Jez Bernholz on Near Future’s
debut album Ideal Home in May. Since Blancmange’s Stephen Luscombe was
forced by illness to stop touring or recording after 2011’s Blanc Burn, the
band has continued with Arthur at the helm via Semi Detached (darker but
still pop-savvy) in 2015 and their first ever instrumental album Nil By
Mouth (ambient, new sense of freedom) later in the same year. Commuter
23 (minimalist, brutalist, raw with moments of hazy Krautrock) arrived in
2016, to be followed by Unfurnished Rooms last autumn which also featured
John Grant on the closing track, ‘Don’t Get Me Wrong’.

Continuing its evolution Blancmange has been reaching new audiences of late
with the 2017 remix of ‘What’s the Time?’ (for Disco Halal ) and a new
collaboration between Blancmange and Kincaid, ‘Fat Head’ due for release
this summer, both tracks being widely supported and played by the likes of
Ame (Innervisions Label) and Solomun.

*November UK ‘Wanderlust’ Tour:*

1st Norwich Arts Centre

2nd Nottingham Rescue Rooms

3rd Cardiff Acapela

4th Bristol The Fleece

7th Darwen Library Theatre

8th Edinburgh Voodoo Rooms

9th Glasgow Oran More

10th Newcastle The Cluny

15th Brighton The Old Market

16th Southampton Brook

17th Dover Booking Hall

22nd Wolverhampton Robin 2

23rd Gloucester Guild Hall

24th Northampton Roadmender

29th Leeds The Wardrobe

30rd Derby Flowerpot