Till I Burn Up is another electronic soundscape from Delicate Steve. His fifth album this decade is a mirror-to-the-world: a comment on the absurdity and horror of modern life, played through Freddie Mercury’s Oberheim synthesizer, and Robbie Robertson’s Fender amp at a studio in Woodstock. The musical lineage is echoed on the album from the way that Steve works a melody on Freedom and Selfie of a Man. There's nods to Gary Numan and Kraftwerk with light flourishes of dance music
alongside roaring guitar solos; but it's the album's darker moments that are the most absorbing. Rubberneck's dark electronic groove pays homage for our propensity to relish in schadenfreude and the hypnotic riff is like a conveyor belt of sound that reinforces our consumerism. We Ride On Black Wings has a glacial feel that reinforces our growing isolation. The slow motion feel of the track only heightens this, as if we are stuck in a vortex of technology. The harpsichord disconnect and mismatched chords on Vacant Disco further this commentary on our world.
Much of Steve's work is very cinematic, Till I Burn is no exception. The purely instrumental nature of the album acts like a soundtrack to modern life and offers little reprieve. The Metropolis style throb of Madness and the edgy guitar work of Rat in the House only serve to show how the world is a different place since Woodstock and Freddie.
Steve is careful not to let the album become too absorbed in franetic nature of modern life. Dream, the album's final track, offers a short lull in the turmoil of our world, while still connecting to it with a heavy heart beat and an reverb driven guitar that makes the track feel uneasy, shaking us from our peaceful slumber. Till I Burn is not an easy listen, but its filmic nature means we have no choice but to gaze into the mirror that Steve, very pointedly, gets us to look into.
Groupie rating 3/5