UK electronic indie collective H2SO4 were one of the best kept secrets of the late ’90s, releasing a slew of singles and a brace of albums at the turn of the millennium that were well received by pundits and public alike, with songs that can be heard in popular TV shows such as ‘The Sopranos’, ‘Six Feet Under’ and ‘Queer As Folk’.
Now, via a collaboration with quirky production duo Bombay Monkey, they have created a stunning new album of ’80s tinged electronic prog-pop songs entitled ‘Love And Death’ that is scheduled for release in the late summer of 2021.
An opening salvo entitled ‘We Are Millions’ is released as a single today. It is accompanied by a video created from found footage of peaceful protest through dance filmed at demonstrations worldwide at a time when the right to hold them (#RightToProtest) is under threat from a new bill. Propelled by a hypnotic bassline, this anthemic song sounds equally good at home or in a club. By coincidence, it shares its title with the #WeAreMillions campaign, which is galvanising global support for Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange to be freed.
Further singles will be released in the months prior to the release of the album.
H2SO4 began in 1998 as a remix project when electro pioneers CODE reworked songs by indie group Sulphur (then signed to Rhythm King). Gaining immediate support from tastemaker radio DJ’s such as Pete Tong and John Peel for the singles ‘I Need Love’ and ‘Little Soul’, a subsequent series of 12″ white labels filled dancefloors in clubland prior to the release of their 1999 debut full-length, ‘Machine-Turned Blues’. Championed by then XFM drive-time presenter Bob Geldof, the album included the single ‘Imitation Leather Jacket’ and made waves internationally, leading to licensing deals in both the US and Japan.
Co-writer and producer Andy Phillips broke away from H2SO4 after the release of the Japan-only follow-up album ‘Glamtronica’ in 2000 and formed the production partnership Bombay Monkey with Guy Martin, leaving Graham Cupples and James Butler to continue making music as H2SO4. A full two decades later, the two camps have combined forces to make the record of their lives.
‘Love & Death’ explores the more poetic and visionary aspects of the quartet’s world view, romantic and futuristic and reflecting the timeless calculus: Love versus Death. “The work process was fast and fluid,” says Phillips of his role as co-producer/mixer. “I picked out some key songs that Graham and James had already recorded and got a few raw ideas together before playing them to Guy, who would either do nothing at all or completely turn them on their head. Neither of us was sure what we were dealing with but almost every track we worked up sounded great. However, it wasn’t until we played them to a friend who came up with the final album running order that we knew we’d got something special on our hands.”
“Thematically, the album explores the emotional landscapes of love and death,” states Cupples. “From the high and noble uplands of love to the desolate plains of betrayal and loss. The death of love can be as profound as bereavement. To be abandoned in love can feel like being deleted,” he adds, wryly referencing the sampled line “all memories erased” from album song ‘Don’t Delete Me’.
‘Love And Death’ carries other moments of portent, even within colourful floorfillers such as ‘Machines Love’ and the Bowie referencing ‘Hello Spacegirl’, as well as the hauntingly beautiful ballad ‘No Poems’ and the spatial, downtempo Pink Floyd-esque ‘Missing You’. Others, such as ‘Weirds Me Out’, contain exhilarating electronic orchestrations. “We hope this album has you rooted to your seat, interested in what happens next: a story of love and death unfolding before you,” concludes Cupples.
WE ARE MILLIONS
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