Elon Katz, the bloke hidden (along with Orion Martin) behind the alias White Car, refers to this group as his pop project, after a brief pass through the muddy waters of analogue improvisation and noise. This is a description that might give rise to misunderstanding, first of all because we aren’t looking at your everyday pop band, and secondly, because his music is encyclopaedic—the parade of genres passing through their debut album on Hippos In Tanks is endless. So it’s odd that Katz and Martin would flee from what they call the “fascism of genre” or start to state all of the influences that there are in their music. Even more so if they rightly described their first EP, “No Better”, as “industrial space funk”. It’s ironic, to say the least.
Like other artists on Hippos In Tanks, White Car share that passion for hedonism, darkness, and nostalgia. But instead of wanting to sound exactly like a dusty old record by a mid-80s band that only a few night owls can remember, the duo reinterprets this discourse in a modern manner. Their work is carefully produced using analogue and digital synthesizers, beat boxes, samplers, and processors. The creation of “Everyday Grace”, their first album, took place across almost all of 2011 in their own studio in Chicago, The Techno Dungeon (later you will understand why this name is so pertinent and eloquent).
Putting on “Terminal Body” is imagining Ron Hardy playing it in the Windy City’s Music Box, with the entire club topsy-turvy. It’s a cut that also gets into one of White Car’s obsessions: technology. This fixation can be distinguished in the following lines: “Everywhere I go there is the right technology / Everything I am in just won’t let me be me”. It often isn’t easy to understand what Katz is singing - probably something premeditated - but if we pay attention to what we are told by the label, the narrative has a heavy dose of sexuality, references to the abuse of time, and other subjects more suited to science fiction (such as the virtual and physical connection established in human interactions). There are lyrics where one can make out explicit, almost militant messages in the few moments when the voice isn’t highly processed and distorted - one of the identifying features of aggro, a palpable reference here. “The Factor” has an aggressive rhythm, with the tone of the voices modified at whim, in what appears to be a cross between Depeche Mode at their harshest (see: “People Are People”) and the Belgian bad vibes of Front 242. We find more aggravation in “In The Second Month Of The Year” and “She The Bodiless”, which we imagine will be an essential piece for EBM sets with a renewed spirit from here on in.
White Car’s music isn’t always so elusive, which they illustrate in the synth-pop “Feed Me”. It’s all very Nine Inch Nails and, incidentally, features the voice of their friend and flatmate, Lindsay Powell (one of the key collaborations to be found on “Everyday Grace”). The closing track also serves to show their warmer side . “Now We Continue” is a piece halfway between electro-funk and boogie, owing a lot to Prince, another of Katz’s explicit influences. Furthermore, if I-F were to listen to “When” one day (if he hasn’t already), after getting over the hard-on it would inevitably give him, he would be kicking himself for not including it in one of the Viewlexx albums, or any of his many other platforms.
The less pleasant side of the 80s is back in an album that sounds like an imaginary David Cronenberg soundtrack (from the period, of course). It reviews the many sub-genres deriving from dance music at that time - mixing them all together in a comforting cocktail that will become your new BFF on your nights out.