Taking the smoother washes of synth-wave, the sharper edges of an industrial vibe and the cold clinical and detached sound of darkwave and bolting them on the harder beats of electro, Watch Clark trade in a sound which links the Blitz Kids to the cutting edge of today’s dance floor whilst happily referencing a host of digital pioneers from The Human League to Nine Inch Nails. It also joins dots between scenes as disparate as 80’s post-punk Sheffield and 90’s rave culture to Seattle’s industrial heyday of the last decade and underground experiments in todays European basements clubs.
The man at the heart of the band, Paul Furio, previously of Static Engine and SMP, spent two decades honing his skills and developing his style before releasing his first album under the moniker of Watch Clark. And if that debut, Perfect Imitation, acted as a brilliant calling card for his personal musical vision, now joined by Megan Sheer and with the help of Symbion Project’s Kasson Crooker, the arrival of First Week of Winter really cements the band’s place in the alternative dance and underground electronica world.
“This is an incredibly personal album,” says Paul Furio. “The last two years were filled with turmoil, politically and personally, and only through music could I really express my feelings. These are songs about love and loss, seduction and betrayal, self-loathing and transformation.” They are also songs which reference and pay homage too John carpenter’s The Thing, “There are obvious allusions to dialog and tag lines, and the first and last songs bookend the events in the film. It’s very much about paranoia, questioning who and what you are, but there’s a hopefulness that comes through the despair.”
It is an album which reminds us of the cyclical nature of music, that sounds and scenes from the past often come around again and when they do, they do so in augmented and updated form. Whilst technology may be able to apply a wonderful sheen to the proceedings and the contemporary sounds it shares a platform with are obviously going to shape it some extent, it is easy to hear the beating retro-heart underneath its modern musical shell and it is also easy to hear the high esteem it holds those trailblazers in.