Category Archives: Digits

Digits: Epilogue

Featuring : Digits

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We helped Digits kick off his In the City of the Dead album/story back in October.  The idea being that he’s crafted an exploitation synth-soundtrack for his apocalyptic tale of J, musician/journalist/chronicler of this blasted world.  Here he is, back with the final track from the album: a tough but plaintive epilogue.  

Epilogue: The Survivor

The young woman hides among the trees, crouching, remaining silent, watching the man standing in contemplation at the cliff’s edge. His face is scarred and weather-beaten. Brow furrowed, he doesn’t move a muscle.

“Are you J?”

The man shifts slightly but doesn’t answer.

“I want to join you,” she called out.

“How long have you been there?”  he said to the young woman, without turning around. “I’m impressed. I’m not easily caught by surprise.”

“I’ve heard about you. People are beginning to talk. I want to help. There’s nothing else in this world worth doing.”

The man turns to her, looks her straight in the eye. He half-smiles then turns away again.

“Will you have me?”

He doesn’t answer and keeps looking off into the distance. His smile grows, his eyes fixed on the horizon, not moving from one spot. His mind consumed, thinking of only one thing…..the day that he will RETURN TO THE CITY OF THE DEAD!!!

Digits – Epilogue The Survivor

You can listen to the whole thing here.

In the Blog of the Dead

Featuring : Digits

We’ve written about Digits a fair bit over the years, and we’re about to do so again.  His glacial-RnB — and occasionally synth-pop bothering — feels like it’s tape traded, awkward bedroom pop, if the internet had done it.  Which we like the idea of.

He’s now embarked on a quixotic (or Stevens-esque?) project: releasing fragments of a story across multiple blogs each time with an accompanying song. Or multiple songs with an accompanying story.  Whichever way you want to look at it.  So…

Prologue: In the City of the Dead

In the not too distant future…

J, a journalist, watches as fascism begins to creep over the city, but can’t do anything to stop it. Anger and rage are encouraged by politicians seeking to solidify their power, and police turn a blind eye to gang activity. The streets are no longer safe as the gangs become increasingly armed and emboldened. But then one gang’s plan to upset the balance of power goes terribly awry, and brings about a zombie outbreak. There are mass casualties, including J’s wife, and society breaks down.

The city is quarantined from the rest of the world, not nuked, but to be contained and forgotten. The gangs become the power, rule the City of the Dead, and extort anything they want from the helpless. Innocents continually suffer at the hands of zombies and gangs. J is forced to fall back on his previous life as a synthpop musician, and convinces the largest of the gangs to protect him in exchange for John Carpenter soundtracks of their nefarious activities. He becomes a witness and chronicler of the City of the Dead, and a cynical survivor who kills when forced to.

But he remains torn by guilt, that he should have been a greater man, that somehow he could have prevented all this. That maybe he can still turn it around. How will it all end? What kind of life will he manage to find for himself IN THE CITY OF THE DEAD???

Digits – Prologue: In the City of the Dead

City of the Dead is, as the story suggests, a John Carpenter wish fulfilment fantasy (one we indulge in, a lot).  Simple synth melodies and a subdued drum machine creating neon lines, tracing the grids of dangerous streets under midnight skies.  You know where you are.  There also, of course, the quite delicious idea of Alt’s gentle croon being directed at the supremo of some vicious street gang to keep things on edge.

As fun as ‘knowing’ the fantastical context of the production is, what makes this whole thing interesting is the line it runs between Carpenter and the subtly harder beat halfway through.  It’s tempting to see the booming European clubs searing their brand into Digits psyche, pulling the whole thing away from homage.  A dangerous game when you need some protection.

Pepper’s Ghost

Featuring : Digits

This is what’s classed as upbeat on 20JFG these days.  You’d never think we lived through Nu-Rave. We blame the Eurocalypse.

Digits do genuinely lift up our week with another EP of material that marry Alt’s incongruously sweet vocal to some minimal RnB.  The track we’ve cruelly separated from its brothers and posted below might well represent a creeping Britishness to the wandering Canadian’s repertoire.

Eight Long Years resurrects the hologrammatic form of OMD and The Cure for its beachhead — we hear that’s how its done these days.  Almost like a dedication these symbols of synthpop are quickly stripped back to the absolute minimum: a simple bassline; a three note melody reverberating into the shadows and Alt’s vocal, as ever, making you feel like he could simply evaporate at any moment.

Digits – Eight Long Years

Digits’ latest release is called Where Do You Belong (see the artwork up there) and will be available on CD and download on July 10th.

The Return

Featuring : Digits + Gold Zebra

It’s been a quiet week at 20JFG with just one of us (barely) minding the shop.  Normal service will no doubt resume next week.  After we’ve gorged on chocolate of course…

Prior to our resurrection next week we’d like to bring to your attention a recent collaboration (as much as a remix is ever a collaboration) between Digits and Gold Zebra, both of who we’ve enthused about over the last year(s).

Digits’ slyly earnest synth-pop lyrics get wrapped up in a tough-like-Carpenter exterior to prowl the gritty VHS streets of our youth.  There is a moment where you realise that, in some horrible alternate reality Digits’ Alt would be crooning over an acoustic guitar, in a full on singer-songwriter nightmare.  We are forever grateful then that, like many a synth-pop front man before him, he decided to turn his voice over to the night.

Like Night Gallery‘s Constant Struggle LP from a couple of years back, this is almost angelic synth-pop music; so pure it loops back on itself and becomes out of phase with innocence in the same way that Peter Christopherson was out of phase with innocence.  It’s just…off.  Smooth like milk spiked with poppers.

Digits – Rachel Marie (GOLD ZEBRA Remix)

Gold Zebra’s remix of Rachel Marie is from a mixtape Digits made called Death and Desire.  You can stream Digits’ mixtape (in the Hip-Hop sense rather than the fey indie boy sense) here.

So Bright, So Bleak and So Clean

Featuring : Digits + The Present Moment

We’ve long championed Digits’ appropriation of various dancefloors in service of his hushed pop.  A whispering sound from the ether that swirled around Arthur Russell back in his folk fuelled days.

Digits’ latest feels familiarly strange in the way that Water Borders did on first listen.  Brought up in a pre-internet land the idea that music that feels so local can loop around the world, nestle in and breed new forms still engenders a minor tremor of future shock.  Because It’s Wrong begins by seemingly dragging a minimalist disco melody over a piece of Bristolian sub-bass but soon morphs to something more…purple.  Alt’s languid vocal smooths through the disconnect between the deep bass (apologies for the 128kbs, you’ll have to trust us) and that right-in-your-ear Soul.  Unashamed 4am music.

Digits – Because It’s Wrong

Because It’s Wrong comes from a self-released EP, out in September, called Only Affection.  His previous EP is still available here

The gloriously consistent Mannequin Records pump out another impeccably tailored jam of a record in the form of The Present Moment‘s Loyal to a Fault LP.

Clothed in the vintage threads of minimal synth A New Day takes in hook laden Reagan-era-nuclear-hysteria-pop.  A bubbling, wilful dissonance between a world of mutually assured annihilation and a chrome plated future ushered in on neon and glass.  So bright, so bleak and so clean.  There’s rarely any way to sing about love here without it feeling like the end of world.  Of course, this is a world where Genesis became a Malcolm McLaren to the embers of punk and shaped them into a fifth column of synth-wave disillusion-ists…maybe.

The Present Moment – A New Day

The Loyal to a Fault LP is out on Mannequin on 26th September in collaboration with Desire Records of France.

The Size of a Bite

Featuring : Digits

We’re once again graced by Digits‘ presence, rolling up Lost Dream (which we posted earlier this year) with new tracks and a remix to form the Lost Dream EP.  One of the new tracks is Pale Green Morning, a haunting early House jam, replete with Alt’s soul-flecked vocal.  A trip through a night-history that escapes those of us cursed with not baring witness to the rise of house in its native environment.  A city-slick tour through the cold green blue streets of dawn (definitely not of Rage).

Digits – Pale Green Morning

Digits will be self-releasing this EP (for FREE).  Check his website to nab the whole thing (for FREE).

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What is Lost is Lost Forever

Featuring : Digits

Digits helped us close out 2009 and just over a year later they help us open 2011 with more gorgeously constructed pop music. Which also functions as ample proof that not all resurrections are bloody.

Lost Dream is all minimal, reverb heavy, synth-pop. The echoes of handclaps circling and decaying as a skittish drum machine thumps the cold blue ground. The bridge seemingly constructed from a hazy memory of Filter House and cast in blue-fringed neon. The doubled male vocal of the chorus — a tape-slowed sibling to Natasha’s still incredible So Sick — rounds out the audible mirror of the artwork above.

Digits – Lost Dream

20JFG will be back to full strength next week.