Colin Newman "It Seems" (Crammed Discs, Belgium, 1988) NM/NM

"Colin Newman's final solo album of the 1980s revisits various points in his musical trajectory: some of the catchy pop moments of A-Z and Not To, the hypnotic, minimalist designs of Provisionally Entitled the Singing Fish, and the more expansive, often beatless textures of Commercial Suicide. But while it displays a degree of continuity with his previous recordings away from Wire, It Seems also signals a departure for Newman with regard to the creative process itself, marking his first extensive solo exploration of digital technology and computer sequencing. Although drums are almost completely absent from this album, Robert Gotobed contributes his trademark metronome beats to a couple of tracks, the results somewhat resembling the sound of Wire on late-'80s releases like Ideal Copy and A Bell Is a Cup...Until It Is Struck. Here, Newman smoothes down the spikier surfaces and harder angles of some of his previous work and fashions subtly mesmerizing, layered arrangements from repeating melodic synth patterns. Much like Commercial Suicide, It Seems has a serene, reflective quality and even Newman's voice is shorn of its famously sarcastic lilt. His tone is almost gentle on tracks like the subtly droning "Quite Unrehearsed," while on "Si tu attends" he goes Eurovision, performing an un-ironic love song in French. No Colin Newman record would be complete without a near-perfect pop tune that sinks its hooks into the listener. It Seems offers two: the infectious "Round & Round," with its appropriately circular groove, and "Better Later Than Never," fleshed out with horns and Malka Spigel's beautiful backing vocals and underpinned by Gotobed's drumming. Although Newman would further explore computer-based recording on Wire's Manscape, It Seems laid the foundation for his electronic work with Spigel in various guises throughout the '90s and ultimately for his next solo release, Bastard (1997)."

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