REVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN
Having built up a devoted following in recent years with an eclectic sound drawn from a broad range of musical influences, Hull five-piece Bunkerpop have delivered a self-titled debut album.
Comprising of 12 tracks totalling almost 54 minutes, the band have split their first offering into four manageable parts – all named after colours – each containing three songs, which all reflect a true sonic diversity.
The opening group of tracks – the ‘Red Side‘ – begins with ‘Start Something With A Stop‘, a synth-heavy number that evokes the musical stylings of German electronic pioneers Kraftwerk.
Despite the fact that it only really comprises of the same four bars of synth repeated on a constant loop, it does an effective job of advertising the quintet’s penchant for avant-garde instrumentals and prepares the listener for what is to come.
Following this is ‘(Are You Ready) For Something‘, which, in comparison to the opener, is a more melodic-sounding affair dominated by piano keys, a consistent underlying tribal drum beat, and the use of snippets of distorted dialogue.
Rounding off the first part of the release is ‘Bunkerpop Theme‘, which marks a return to the synth-led, new wave-esque sound of the opener, albeit with a generally more chilled-out vibe.
Moving onto the ‘Blue Side‘ now, and ‘Stop‘ – a track that will be familiar to anybody who watched the band live in their first year – is a rather psychedelic offering, featuring sounds of crashing waves, and an acoustic guitar rendition of the theme tune to classic children’s television programme ‘Camberwick Green‘.
‘Kijk‘ is another one of the quintet’s songs to have become a live favourite, being described by fans as “Super Mario on acid“, which on listening to this, can be an accurate description, what with a fast-paced sound that is rather reminiscent of the music from the early days of computer games, accompanied by an odd mix of birdsong, Japanese dialogue, and pins being knocked down in a bowling alley.
In comparison, the ‘White Side‘ opens with the Humberside five-piece venturing down a more traditional route.
‘Newtown‘ – the seventh track – is noticeable for being the only one to contain so-called “proper” lyrics and vocals, dealing with the boredom of city centre life, with the use of sound effects being kept to a bare minimum.
This number almost acts as a gateway for general listeners who may be put off by the more surreal fare, as following song ‘Don’t Upset The Hawk‘ sees the collective go back into pure avant-garde.
The remainder of this offering, including last part the ‘Black Side’ mainly goes along at a laid-back pace, with some creative experimentation along the way.
‘Wet Brains‘ – a seven-minute epic – has a relaxed vibe for the majority of that time, however, in the final minute, the sound really gathers pace, building up towards an overwhelming finish, which is a genuine surprise for those listening to the song for the very first time.
‘Harmony Wheel‘ has a playful, jazz-esque vibe to it, ‘Lovely Eno‘ is a truly atmospheric-sounding affair, and ‘Action After Warnings‘ closes proceedings by featuring the quintet at their most improvisational.
In conclusion, ‘Bunkerpop‘ is a well-crafted album that has much to offer, highlighting a true knack for musical creativity, and provides concrete evidence that the band care more about the music they produce rather than pandering to the lowest common denominator in order to generate a big financial profit, something that is – especially in regards to the mainstream – is sadly becoming a rarity these days.
TOP TRACK: ‘Kijk‘