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Tekno Train: The Album (Paul Mac)

ALL ABOARD OR all off, all change? During the most recent Vivid Festival in Sydney, the winter gathering of flashing lights outside, bits of art and music inside, and frequent mutterings by grumpy types as they work their way through the crowds at one to get to their seats at the other, I caught a news report about a “disco train”. It was not exactly inspiring.

A special multi-carriage train, populated by people who had trusted there would be no “Sydney Trains apologises for this delay” disappointment and were in fact hoping “this train will not be stopping at” any intervening stations, was doing a circuit with its inside bedecked with flashing lights and its regular unintelligible announcements replaced by an electronic/dance soundtrack.

My first thought was, everyone’s sitting down, what’s that about? My second was, it looks like a bucks/hens night stretch limo, what kind of horror is that? My third thought was, the tinny compressed sound coming through the TV speakers seemed more likely to induce headaches than head spins, who would want that? Hell to the no.

I may need to re-evaluate. Firstly, because I’m told that after initial caution for the first few nights, people were encouraged to get up and move, even – shock! – dance. Secondly, because judging by the soundtrack for that ride, composed by Paul Mac, it probably was not just a lot of fun but actually worth listening to.

Mac’s 14 tracks (which fall one second short of 59 minutes so should get you through a regular commute, or keep you occupied during another unscheduled extended stop outside Redfern) slide through brittle mechanical sounds and burbling ancient synths, head down/arse out pulses and be-suited string sections, liquid basslines and squelchy overlays, mellow marimbas and punchy keyboards, escalations to mid-euphoria and cool downs to chilled moods. They sample unknown voices and the regular platform announcer, distort and repeat some sounds and positively glisten others.

This is not a single journey, or a single experience. An Audience With The Saint And Sophie is a cocktail hour, all linen suits and quiet nods, and City Circle Circuitry tweaks that mood up slightly while bringing in a little distance. The Distant Horns Of Hornsby has a chill to it even as its pace quickens, but Pompeii To St Peters wears its mechanicals lightly, almost exuding warmth. The unhurried chugging of Deep Train Of Thought presages disembarking but Chasing Through Dives And Flyovers encourages ignoring everything else but the inside of your eyelids.

Yet for all that suggested diversity, Tekno Train isn’t a jumble of unexplained or unconnected stops, for there is at the very least a gliding sense of travel, of movement. Most of all though there is a genuine understanding of the ebb and flow of a good night in a club, a train, or indeed your living room with the lights off and only the amp’s glow, and the skill to capture them all.



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