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Album Review: Theremins of the World (Unite and Take Over)

Kevin Sinnott's first album is called Theremins Of The World (Unite And Take Over), which gives some clue as to the ambition of this album. It covers a diverse range of musical styles, from concrete soundscape to melodic, from funky to oriental. The cover art, paintings of ghoulish skulls and spiders' webs, mist shrouded trees and theremins aplenty, tells us that we are in the classic theremin territory of spookiness, menace and melancholy.

The album starts with an homage to the radio show and podcast, Spellbound (a brief program of music for theremin) and, as the title suggests, Music for Theremin (Spellbound Theme) is indeed the current Spellbound theme tune, so should be familiar to much of the demographic for this album. It is appropriate for the show, being something of a sampler of various playing styles. In common with several of the tracks this has the occasional click and hiss that give it a raw, immediate feel. (I should admit here that I am a fan of first albums - so often by the third album bands have lost the vibrancy and excitement of their early works in favour of slick production values and formulaic music. None of that here!) Unlike the rest of the album, which is largely instrumental, there is a voice here, courtesy of Speak 'n' Spell.

For the second track, A Burst of Colour, Kevin straps on his bass guitar and gets his funk on to provide a menacing heartbeat backing to sirensong theremin. It has a noir feel, like leather clad Emma Peel, pistol cocked, exploring the shadowy and surreal set beneath a Berlin nightclub. The theremin and bass work excellently together - this is a haunting melodic piece, and one of my favourites.

Not so the third track, The Funeral March, which for me is let down by the headachy whoomp whoomp whoomp of the bass line, played on the theremin, and the squiggly radio-tuning sounds that run throughout the piece. It's a shame that these are two of my least favourite theremin sounds, because it is an evocative piece, and would make an excellent alternative soundtrack for the funeral procession in Rene Clair's classic Dadaist film Entr'acte. (That's the one with the mourners chasing a hearse drawn by a camel in slow motion.)

The Pain That Screams From Within is a quietly depressing piece of chamber music for piano, theremin and xylophone that showcases Kevin's ability to craft a memorable tune that will leave you shivering, as is Saw Thru You, which is some ways reminiscent of Amber or Red Rider from The Resident's Commercial Album. Just lovely and oriental and a little odd. (And about transparency and simplicity rather than chain saws and amputation!)

Invasion (Part One) changes the pace and moves us into Industrial Soundscape Land, complete with marching jackboots and falling bombs, contrasted against the childhood innocence of a glockenspiel and the ethereal wailing that tells us that the Martians are back. The laser blasts suggest that this time it will take more than a Slim Whitman song or two to send them packing. (Indeed the reprise later in the album, Invasion (Part Two), does not offer a happy ending, but leaves us with the fight continuing.)

It Was Really There (But You didn't See It) is some seriously creepy mood music - put it on your Halloween party mix - if you want to stop the midnight smooching and leave your guests shivering and glancing nervously around. Leave it running onto the next track, The Dark Room, to move the ambience a tadge in the direction of A Sudden Burst Of Colour as Kevin gets his funk on again, and, just before everyone leaves, assuming they will be walking back via the local graveyard, hit them with Solitude Walk, Raising The Dead (Is A Serious Business), Silent Movie Star and Heartbeaten To Death, each offering a different and novel take on the themes suggested by their t