The sound of Oxford old school synth Punk band, In-Flight Movie, harks back to the pioneering days of Joy Division and Gary Numan. They’ve recently released their Movie EP that’s packed with electro pop nuggets and are marked as ‘ones to watch’ being part of the healthy Oxford music scene.
Singer James Askwith – whose lyrics have earned him a “hint of Mark E.Smith by way of Jarvis style cynicism” acclaim – joins us At The Barrier to sort out why In-Flight Movie love LCD Sound System. Over to James:
One of the bands which have influenced our sound the most is LCD Soundsystem. I remember hearing about them when watching an interview with Anton Newcombe (Brian Jones Town Massacre).
LCD Soundsystem is the musical alias of James Murphy, a producer and multi instrumentalist based in New York who writes and records everything but choses to play it all live with up to 8 musicians on stage.
I first started listening to them in the car and one of the songs I listened to first was called How Do You Sleep? It’s not one of their major hits and is initially a slow builder, but when the bass synth kicks in, the sound of it just got me really excited to listen to more. I then found Dance Yourself Clean which is my favourite song of theirs. When playing live, Murphy only sings and occasionally hits a cowbell, letting his band handle all the instrumentals. This makes their live show particularly fun to watch because there are no stand out members. The whole band works together to form a cohesive sound and there are no solos or virtuoso moments.
Their farewell show at Madison Square Gardens in New York is especially fun to watch online. It was an emotional gig for them and was filmed for their documentary Shut Up And Play The Hits but the show is also on YouTube. They actually released another album and got back together after this farewell show, but who can blame them. One of the main things we have in common with them is the leading role that analogue synthesizers take in their instrumentation. Guitars and bass guitars still contribute significantly to the overall sound but they are almost always playing a supporting rhythmic percussive element rather than carving out melodies.
The synths used by LCD Soundsystem always maintain a dry gritty experimental sound reminiscent of late 70s and early 80s and range from warm punchy bass or in the upper registers they tend to include bleepy electronic sounding patches. This sound is a product of James Murphy’s choice of hardware (assumed mostly vintage) obscure analogue synths. There is little use of effects on the instruments and nothing sounds canned or “safe” and you can hear there is an element of randomness in the sound. Any consistency to their sound is down to the members knowing how to dial in their synthesizers rather than using saved patches. When watching them play live, the vast majority of the synth parts are played live on keyboards with all parameters being tweaked in the moment. This lack of pre-sequenced synth parts explains why they have so many people in the live band.
Unfortunately, we don’t have the same manpower in In-Flight Movie and so we do rely on saving our synth patches so we can dial in the sound easily live. However, we do play our synths live and LCD’s influence can be heard throughout our recent EP, particularly on Easy and the first half of Aliens.
Our grateful thanks to James and the band – clearly men of taste.
You can read more from our extensive archive of Why I Love pieces from a wide array of artists on an even wider array of subjects, here.