Sounds : 10 November 1984

Metal for Mothers

'Machine Age Voodoo' (WEA 240 515-1)** [Flog]

A foggy Halloween evening, a nearby clock strikes midnight and the assembled few wait somewhat impatiently for the first strains of the new SPK LP. So sneaky are these antipodean darlings that they've even dropped the merest tinge of risqué wordplay within their name. Now they're just plain old SPK. But we know. Or do we?
The screech of horror which emanates from SPK's latest platter isn't one of terror or delight, just an echo of disbelief from an audio jury who can't quite believe their ears. So they've moved a million miles from their shock-horror roots and even a street or two from last year's excellent 'Leichenschrei' and 'Dekompositiones', but what's this got to do with anything?
Avoiding the metal-bashing debacle (hello Dep Mode etc) and attempting to keep a few steps ahead, SPK have disappeared into the delightfully drab dancefloor world of menage pop pap. From the outer sleeve through to the embarrassingly twee lyrics, 'Machine Age Voodoo' smacks of secondhand self-indulgence (they even break into Chic's 'Good Times', well dodgy).
With a new Fairlight under one arm, there are moments when Graeme Revell manages to make his tinklings sound reminiscent of Japan (the band, not the country) but Sinan hasn't the voice to carry it off. And those lyrics? Metropolis? 'Junk Funk'? And a revitalised (?) version of 'Metal Dance'? It just doesn't cut it.
SPK were a harsh, infective virus who deserved more attention. In managing to gain a higher public profile, it seems their main interest has been shifting units and satisfying their new label. Who can blame them? Years of delving through the scrap heap and recording on demolished cassette decks leave their mark, but 'Machine Age Voodoo' is just too clean.
Once man-mountain Graeme would physically manhandle the correct noise from a metal sheet but today he just presses a button and it comes out as pristine and perfect ((too perfect) as a smidging of cheese kept in clingfilm.
SPK are in cold storage. 'Machine Age Voodoo' - note the title - is the result of two people swamped with everything they've ever wanted. Stuck inside Santa's grotto, wouldn't you over-stimulate your taste buds to the state of nausea?

Dave Henderson

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