Ekoplekz’s music is the equivalent of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, a weird and quintessentially Limey concoction that could have only been spawned on these islands of tea and crumpets. This isn’t to say a non-Brit wouldn’t find anything to enjoy on Unfidelity, far from it, especially with clear Kraftwerk and Brian Eno influences bubbling under the surface, but it’s fair to say that a few signposts are liable to get lost in musical translation.
Mentioning Kraftwerk and Eno is a good place to start, though, because essentially Ekoplekz’s music boils down to a subtle melding of old and new. Nick Edwards’ analog set-up has a warm and seductive feel to it, with swirling drones and driving synth “riffs” that could have been samples taken from On Land or Düsseldorf’s finest’s “Neon Lights” popping up across the album. Equally, Edwards’ use of terse, minimalist beats hark back to the early days of British synth-pop, notably Mix-Up-era Cabaret Voltaire and The Human League of Reproduction. A heady mix, I’m sure all will agree.
Ekoplekz is never content to explore accepted and successful formulas. Instead,Unfidelity overflows with bleeps, bloops and gargles that throw up a multi-directional signpost, with arrows pointing towards, amongst others, oddball UK children’s TV shows from the 70s such as Children of the Stones and The Owl Service, the seminal sci-fi textures of vintage Doctor Who (the one with the icy synth lines and arcane sound effects, not the modern version driven by orchestrally lush scores that has belatedly made its way across the Atlantic), the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, the dream-like sounds of Warp Records weirdos Aphex Twin and Broadcast, and the more subdued synth music of minimal waver Robert Rental, immortalised here in the title of one of the tracks. For all that, Unfidelity never feels derivative or retro, Edwards displaying an alchemist’s touch as he drags all these influences into a potent melting pot. In Planet Mu, it looks like he may have found a natural home, where he has honed his ectoplasmic touch into something that feels modern and perhaps even geared for the club scene.
Nick Edwards is unbelievably prolific, with a number of projects to his name (his alliance with Baron Mordant as eMMplekz was a recent triumph, and showed how well vocals — especially ones as deadpan as Mordant’s — could work with Edwards’ music), but with Unfidelity he has delivered his most assertive statement as Ekoplekz to date.