Need a gift for a gifted musician?
"Machine funk kraut-a-delia - it's rather lovely!" Andrew Weatherall
You’d be hard pressed to disagree with the seminal DJ and producer listening to ‘Keep Warm… with the Warm Digits’ (Distraction Records), an album that comes as though arriving from a distant time, where music still only saw limitless horizons and endless sonic possibilities. Warm Digits’ duo Andrew Hodson and Steve Jefferis’ bewitching debut LP is undoubtedly steeped in the lineage of the 1970s experimentalism of the likes of Neu!’s hypnotic repetition and the open-minded philosophies of Brian Eno, but it’s testament to the pair’s own broad visions that in 2012 these touch stones have been sculpted into a sound that retains a refreshing sense of modern vitality.
Hodson and Jefferis are a trans-Pennines collaborative project – something referenced by the title of the track ‘Trans-Pennine Express’ - with both having history as mainstays of Newcastle and the North East of England’s intimate but ever evolving music community. Though Andrew has since moved to the more traditional cultural powerhouse of Manchester, he retains close links with the region, recently collaborating with old friends, Sunderland’s Field Music, to help them record the unique ‘One Copy’ in the North West’s Lauriston Gallery. It’s an album whose sole copy is owned by the creators as a statement against the free streaming and sharing culture becoming dominant in music and Field Music’s David Brewis returned the favour to his old pal appearing here on bass. Hodson also runs Seed Studios in Trafford and has worked as a producer with the likes of Maximo Park’s Paul Smith and modern folk duo Cath and Phil Tyler among others.
Jefferis for his part comes from a more glitch-electronica background, something that remains evident within the vortex of Warm Digits enveloping sound; previous releases from him have come under the name Cathode for the likes of Expanding Records, Static Caravan and Distraction Records. Combined the pair have taken their previous wanderings to a new level; forming whilst both still living in Newcastle, they developed from a techno-influenced laptop duo into a more panoramic, texturally aware couple after trying their hand at live score work for Canadian film maker Norman McLaren. Rehearsals for this saw the opening developments of what is now a thrilling semi-improvised brew of metronomic rhythms, snowstorm guitar and radiophonic electronics, dual-laptop electro, swathes of no-wave guitar and frantic free jazz drumming. It says much for their openness and mastery of such dexterity that their debut LP easily manages to contain these myriad influences, working them into a cohesive whole.
With previous remix work for Unkle and Maximo Park, existing fans including BBC Radio 6music’s Marc Riley and a newly blossoming live show that’s seen the pair support Goblin and Modeselektor to name just two - their 21st century krautrock hybrid is more than capable of crossing over to the dance floor. Warm Digits look set to take the centre stage themselves in 2012, with ‘Keep Warm With … The Warm Digits’ set to make them hot property in the months to come.