Review: by David D. Robbins Jr.
Album: Erik Blood “Touch Screens” (2012)
Obviously, the internet has created a sea change in the music industry. One of the joys still left, is the listener’s ability to go out wandering. I was out cruising bandcamp under the term “dream pop” and ran into Erik Blood’s beautiful “Touch Screens” — a 12-song concept record about pornography from a variety of viewpoints. The stories are told through songs with names like “Amputee”, “Constance and Casey”, and “Share Your Love”. The song styles may remind you of My Bloody Valentine’s thickness of sound, Jesus and Mary Chain’s guitar propulsion, Kraftwork, Her Space Holiday, Echo and the Bunnymen’s dark romanticism, or even the wildly scatter-shot and ambitious Badly Drawn Boy, circa “The Hour of Bewilderbeast”.
There are a number of standout tracks on the record, including the hard-driving “Today’s Lover”. The song begins with a throbbing beat, building, oscillating, and convulsing its way through modern rock, electro-galvanized spacey effects, and double-tracked vocals, like one long orgasmic ride on the Blood pleasure-train of satisfaction.
You come away from this record with an appreciation for the creative process after the songs must be conceived. Blood surely is a magician in the studio, which makes sense given his bio — having worked with Shabazz Palaces, Moondoggies, and The Turn-Ons. The arrangements are expertly crafted, without ever reaching the point where you feel the music is being, um, well, asphyxiated. “Sapphire Light Climax”, a seven-minute song ending the record, is a low-light affair, sonically textured and romantic. “Rex Roman” uses a lush guitar delay and more double-tracked or distorted vocals (think Elliott Smith) to give the music the feel of drifting smoke. The guitar riffs in “Shame Spots” are melodic and lovely — the lyrics spry with light humor, about someone thinking about what sexual activity to take part in after going out shopping: “Maybe a guy and a girl / Maybe a couple of guys / Maybe a couple of girls …” It’s hard not to get pulled into the catchy, final repeated refrain, “Shame spots on tape! / Shame spots on tape!”
But maybe the best thing on this record with so much to love about it, is the song “The Lonesome Death of Henry Paris”, more than likely loosely written with sexploitation film director Radley Metzger in mind. A thumping bass beat paired with a repeated electronic warped sample makes this one of the sexier songs on the record: “You walked out on the art house in 1973 / Was Croatia or Paris the place you were conceived? / And into the simulation, / Maintain a beautiful screen / To write society’s excess, into lush pornography … / Smile for the camera / And come, but not too soon.” The song is both sensual and sophisticated, like the record as a whole. In a way “Touch Screen” is a throwback to an era of sexual playfulness, using the music styles of the past 20 years to tell stories, build moods, and to ultimately create a record that stands as timeless as sex itself. Note: All lyrics are unofficial.