I’ve got to be honest. Electronic music tends to make me queasy because of the inhuman quality I so often hear in it. So when I picked up local two-man crew Slow Runner’s new release, Damage Points, I was a little skeptical. But there was plenty of humanity in this one.
On “It’s Back,” the best track, soft “ooohs” float over a good piano riff and singer/songwriter Michael Flynn sings about real human emotions: “The spider kiss/The dagger twist/The icy fist/The long pause/that feeling that you tucked down in your stomach/It’s back/It’s back.”
The slow groove of piano and percussion from multi-instrumentalist Josh Kaler (the second half of Slow Runner) continued to burn itself into my brain as the song built to a rolling crescendo reminiscent of a driving jam at a rock show. From first to last, the song was human, and that’s why it was so good.
The next song, “Apockalytpstick Kiss,” starts off with a fast, shuffly, almost punk-rock beat and grows with well-placed piano and bass lines, but ends too abruptly, before it can really get going.
Another stand-out track, “Devil Moon,” is austere and slow, but never dull. The unifying link of the best songs are soft background vocals and a slow, lullaby quality that pulls you in and really makes you care about the song. In other words, precisely the human touch that so much electronic music is missing.
The cover image of a pixilated heart suits Damage Points. The music feels pixilated, never fully in focus, always fragmented or halfway home, which seems to be a quality they strive for. And it has good consequences and bad. It leaves you wanting more – partly because it’s only nine songs – but in an unsatisfying way. There’s definitely something here, but there should be more of it.
This album is a half circle, hovering around the similar musical qualities without ever getting all the way around. It’s very much within itself, and there’s a confidence from not having to reach, but it makes for a limited finished product. (slowrunnermusic.com)
Slow Runner shares the stage with Babylips at the Pour House on Sat. March 12 at 9 p.m. Tickets are available for $10 (adv.).