By using analog technology and old-school drum machines — some of which sound none the worse for wear — Lowfish (Toronto’s Gregory De Rocher) updates classic ’80s techno with a post-modern attitude. Frozen & Broken has a seedy lo-fi feel to it, while at the same time keeping in the groove a fondness for sweeping electronic gestures. There is even an icy, romantic sheen to these synth tracks, almost a la OMD or ABC but with more bite.
And yet, despite the dark groove underneath, this is dance music, and as such can’t help but offer hope. These ten tracks also build off a bass-heavy bottom, which adds extra fuzz to the analog and deeper pulse to the synth riffs. Lowfish manages to be jaded and cold at once, a brooding machine with some fleshly experience along for the ride.
Highlights include the somber “The Bite That Bleeds” and "Claustraphobe," titles that give you an idea of the gritty, industrial intention of the tracks. Too often, though, the grit is provided by either the retro instrumentation or simply by the titles (“Knives,” “Things Fall Apart”). De Rocher has his ambition and weapons in the right place; he just needs to pull the trigger more often, and not leave it to stock phrases to carry the mood.
Still, Frozen & Broken, both in equipment and attitude, is a welcome addition to the weekly electronica releases that all sound the same. This is repetitive too, but has enough transgressive cache to make it intriguing.