Elegant Divide - Life On TV
Elegant Divide consists of two highly experienced individuals, Peter Oldroyd and Samantha Gare- both long time players in the music industry. Peter along with Nigel James formed the cult English minimal synthpop act Camera Obscura back in 1982. After the successful 7" record Destitution/Race In Athens in 1983 the band seemed to be on their way to the next level. They wrote many songs hoping to get noticed and signed by a major label. Unfortunately the band never signed, even after changing their style geared more towards a commercial sound. The music business is a tough place. Hunter S. Thompson once said "The music industry is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side." How many great artists had their demo and dreams of success tossed in a bin and never given a chance? Anyway, after a few unsuccessful attempts all was quiet until 2005 until Anna Logue Records released Horizons Of Suburbia LP showcasing works from 1983 that were previously unreleased. As for Samantha, she has been involved in music since she was 14 years old as a singer and songwriter. She studied at The Italian Conti Academy Of Theatre Arts. Samantha appears content going under the radar as there is not much about her out there for the public. She has had success in the charts but prefers to leave that in the past and focus on the future. Both Samantha and Peter met through a mutual friend in the industry and soon after found themselves working together as Elegant Divide on Nadanna Records, a joint venture between Anna Logue Records and Electro Aggression Records.
Elegant Divide's offerings dwell mostly in the electropop region with an upbeat groovy vibe bolstered with its full faith in analogue electronics throughout the album. Samantha's vocals showcase ranges only a professional would have. My first thought was, she must have had some sort of high level vocal training or she was just naturally gifted or both. Along with Peter's years of experience as a producer and mix engineer, the two make some kick ass electropoppy music laced with plenty transitions and addicting hooks making Life On TV a must have. There are ten tracks mastered by Martin Bowes on Life On TV LP. Each demonstrates a well-constructed thought out process. From beginning to end, Elegant Divide delivers in all areas.
'Paranoia' is a nice introduction to Elegant Divide with plenty of danceable intrigue musically and vocally while towards the end 'Famous' with its memorable choruses and the peppy rhythms of 'Happiness' solidify Elegant Divide's commitment to making quality music on each and every track. The best tracks in my opinion are 'Excess', 'Mirror' and 'Fantasy'. I found 'Excess' to be the most addictive track on the entire album. The chorus along with a thumping beat and whirling synths is more than enough to lure the listener deeper into the inner sanctum of Elegant Divide. 'Mirror' blasts us with a sweet fat bassline and plenty of dazzling synth-work that left me completely captivated. 'Fantasy' seems to accept the fact, life is better in the fantasy world. Perhaps our dreams are an unattainable fantasy? 'Life On TV' revolves around lessons learned from the TV set. My father and mother taught me a lot, but they could not teach me everything. High School and College, more lessons were learned. It was TV that introduced me to many concepts that perhaps were overlooked due to the subject matter and my age at the time. TV filled the gaps. As a youngster in the 70's Captain Kirk showed me how to fight, That's Incredible showed me people could do amazing things and Buck Rogers made me believe all distant civilizations in the future were filled with the most beautiful people one could lay eyes upon. Samantha tells us in her lyrics, "I didn't know I could die until I saw it on TV." What lessons did the blue light teach you?
As you experience Life On TV, try to absorb everything. The vocals dominate throughout for the most part. With the tracks 'Ceremony', 'Butterfly' and to lesser extent 'Always A Price To Pay' have slower tempos where the dynamics of the vocals and music share the spotlight a little more than on others. Samantha's voice is the focal point of Life On TV, but if you step back and take it all in, you will see that Peter's designs and arrangements are the foundation and framework that hold everything together and allow both Samantha and Peter to let their gifts flourish.
There is an overall feel to Life On TV that thrives somewhere between the midpoints of pop and electropop. At times the album seems to battle itself for genre defining moments. Is it electropop? Is it pop? Is it pop masked as electronic pop, or something completely different? Call it what you will. It is a solid well-polished finished product that will appeal to wide range of audiences. From the music to the vocals to the themes, everything connects which allows all aspects to function as one with seamless accuracy.
The artwork is credited to Steve Lippert and Alex Dawber. The cover art seems to be a tribute to Peter Saville's iconic graphics on the Unknown Pleasures album by Joy Division. Unless you are unfamiliar with Joy Division (which is somewhat unfathomable), Joy Division is the first thing that comes to mind as you peruse Life On TV artwork. For a band that sounds nothing like Joy Division, I would be curious to know why they chose this artistic route.
Life On TV is available on vinyl as well as on the digital platform. Look for Elegant Divide on Facebook through their band page as well as Nadanna's and Anna Logue's pages.