For most of its decade-long existence, Friendly Psychics Music has hidden a secret in Chris Jones, the label's co-founder, bass player and occasional lyricist and artist.
That changes with the inaugural release from A Surplus of 1, Jones' solo project. A longtime rock bassist, Jones switches gears by experimenting with the technology first introduced on Unified Alarm System's album "This is Only a Test." Employing a mix of sequencers, loops, circuit-bent electronics and more, Jones invokes the best of dark '80s pop and '90s techno with trippy, ambient numbers that balance structure and air, darkness and light.
Cinematic and pulsing, songs like "A Whistler’s German Passport" and "This Week's Featured Machine" kidnap deceptively simple chords and deposit them among layers of samples. Kraftwerk and Skinny Puppy form reference points for tracks like "Knitting With Pliers," but so does the simmering psychedelia of latter-day Flaming Lips and the heady soundtracks to "A Clockwork Orange" and "Tron."
Imagine touring a Japanese factory on a sheet of acid, but instead of a human tour guide you're being shuttled through the spark-laden machinery itself. It's grand and metallic, simple and warm, broken and perfect. Call it retro-futurism, techno fetishism, or post-Industrial tomfoolery. Just know that it's coming for you. And it's hungry.