GET THE BALANCE RIGHT

April 14, 2008

Well I have been pretty shit for updating this for a few weeks, sorry!

Getting the balance right between work, family and NK is sometimes difficult and the past few weeks have seen NK suffer. Not feeling particularly well has also not helped as the studio space basically has the ambient temperature of the outside. The last few weeks has been pretty cold so working in that space is not that appealing, if you think about the scene in Blade Runner where the guy works on the eyes, well that’s how it feels.

So this Sunday we are going to see HL in Sheffield. Sarah has never seen them before but knows Mr Oakey in a former professional capacity so it will be interesting to see what she thinks. I have drawn the short straw of driving, in fact I’m taking Sarah, Baz from Electrobelle and Dave Smith the DJ from HFM and his wife.

I thought I would write about my thoughts on HL and how they have influenced me.

Embarrassingly the first record I owned of HLs was the 12″ for Keep Feeling – Fascination. Of course I had heard the singles from Dare but for some odd reason I was never really drawn to them. I was a real Mute head in the early 80′s and didn’t really get into anything outside of the Mute label.

However, that changed on a holiday to Jersey in 1983. At the airport I saw the Dare album on cassette and having had a Walkman for my Birthday I persuaded my mum to buy me the album. I must say that pretty much stayed on my ears for the whole two weeks and I was slightly annoyed that I hadn’t bothered with it before then. From then I have bought pretty much everything they have done.

I think HL suffered from the success of Dare which is understandable considering their age. They famously binned off Martin Rushent thinking they knew best!

Hysteria seemed so stark in relation to Dare, much of this was caused by the learning behind the technology. They decided to use the Synclavier system, something that Daniel Miller and Depeche also decided upon. I think however the missing ingredient was someone who knew how to operate that vast machine. DM had Gareth Jones who had become an expert with that system. Whilst HL should have been evolving their sound I think personally they struggled to achieve anything like the highs of Dare.

Crash I thought was a good album with some really nice tracks, however they hardly had any influence in the production and for them it was a lifeline with Virgin, without the success of that album I don’t think HL would have survived. It clearly catapulted them to bigger things but Romantic I have to say was pants. Octopus and Secrets I think are both great albums but for a band of their age I would have liked them to have released more original albums.

Apart from Dare I find it difficult to pinpoint any particular identity in terms of sound for HL. It’s clear that they still trade off the success of Dare which is fine as it was such a landmark album, but I think in the grand scheme of things they could have achieved so much more.

That said I think HL are probably third on my list of influences and I look forward to any new material.

Matt