The allure of electronic pop is also its abiding challenge: the transformation of an alienating aural landscape of beeps and tones and tinkles and ripples into music with some emotional impact. There’s a thin line between elegant and icy, and the best electronic pop music glides along that line without breaking a sweat.
“Star Receiver” glows with not only elegance but genuine warmth. Listen to how it builds itself up from a few meandering synth lines, grounding the song from the start in something not simply mechanical sounding. Even after the beat kicks in (0:16), the listener’s ear is drawn to the sounds that either float above or weave themselves gently around the basic rhythm. The effect is unhurried and idiosyncratic rather than robotic or clock-like. When the groove is completed by the deft integration of an acoustic guitar (0:48), the rhythm gets a discernible riff and, ultimately, after an entirely unhurried series of graceful repetitions, a genuine, resolving melody (1:32). And then, at long last, Sebastian Arnström begins singing. This is its own kind of treat–his lovely tenor is at once firm and delicate, the trace of an unplaceable accent adding to its subtle tremor. He backs himself up, elusively, with vocals that echo in a lower pitch, adding spaciousness and intrigue. Soon we get a sound nearly like a violin, or maybe a harmonica. The whole thing glistens and bubbles and moves.
Arnström is in the Swedish band Aerial; Simian Ghost is a side project. “Star Receiver” is from the debut Simian Ghost album, Infinite Traffic Everywhere, set for release in the fall on Nomethod Records, a Swedish label. MP3 via Nomethod.