Signal Generator : Square Wave EP (OCC1CD) Reviews:-
17/7/03 - Igloo Webzine:-
"Remember back in the early nineties, when electronic music was just starting to really get large, and new, mind-blowing stuff was coming out what seemed like every week? Stepping out of a record store with the new Aphex, new Leftfield, Black Dog, Orbital, and Underworld records, all at once? Remember how it felt when you listened to them in succession, that feeling that this kind of music was going to take everything over, that you’d never have to listen to boring dreck ever again? You were going to conquer the world, and you had the perfect soundtrack, right? Well it may not have turned out that way, not yet, but Signal Generator remember what it was like at the time, and have released a perfect 4-track EP that encapsulates the sound and the attitude of that time. As much as electronic music as a genre is one that looks forward into the new, when a release comes along that looks back, it really is a breath of fresh air. It’s a gentle reminder that not everything has to change the world, that some things in this world are fine like they are, and one of those things is early-nineties techno. Square Wave is a gentle journey, twenty-two minutes of mostly blissful, non-threatening techno. It bleeps and blurts in the right places, the beats jump and jiggle, and the bass rumbles appropriately. And while this may sound like a pan, it is not --very few artists are making retro-techno like this anymore, and it’s a sound that is sorely missing from the scene today. A full-length from these gentlemen would be most appreciated. "
Reviewed by Jericho Maxim December 2004.
17/7/03 - This is Not TV Webzine:-
"Here at TINTV we don't have many rules but one of our main philosophies is to try our damnedest to review everything we get sent. We do reasonably well at fulfilling this but of course there are occasions when we get sent music that absolutely no one on the team knows anything about. In case you haven't noticed, TINTV is unashamedly rock and our small team of writers, whilst fine with indie, alt, metal and the obscure, are a bit rubbish when it comes to dance CDs. 'Square Wave EP' is the latest offering by Peter Mottram AKA Signal Generator. Released on the new Huddersfield label Occasional Records, 'Square Wave' is the product of recording sessions collected over the years and contains over twenty two minutes of laid back dance music. As I have said before, I know bugger all about dance music so you'll have to excuse any clumsy reference points which crop up. The Four track EP mixes eighties electro pop sounds with ambient swirls and unobtrusive rhythmic patterns not unlike the kind of stuff which was knocking around in the Bristol scene in the early nineties. The tracks are all pretty tight and seamlessly flow from one to another without any jarring at all. That is not to say they sound samey. Each track has it's own unique identity and despite Signal Generator's comparisons to bands like Leftfield, some of the tracks also have more subtle influences such as the almost New Order like 'Laidback'. Whilst 'Square Wave' doesn't grab you by the hair and give you a good slap, it does leave it's mark. Signal Generator has produced a fine chilled out record which I could imagine hearing played late at night across the coolest bars in the land. It leaves me feeling relaxed and bearing in mind my love of all things screaming and guitar fuelled, that can't be a bad thing."
Reviewed by Emma Farrer August 2003.
17/7/03 - Is This Music ? Magazine:-
"If an uncaring government bans synthesisers tomorrow, no problem, as there are massive stockpiles of instrumental electronic music around. The quality varies, but this EP will be kept in an extra-secure vault. 'Laidback' kicks off like The Normal having acquired modern equipment (and doubtless been bemused by the ranks of flashing lights and buttons). It's at times ambient stuff but the shifting beats and textured sounds mean Square Wave is listenable all the way through. 'PSS-780' is a wee bit Kraftwerky with all the blips in the right place, but the aptly-entitled 'Spacey' is the most tuneful, a slightly melancholy wee number."
Reviewed by Is This Music ? 2003.
29/4/03 - LOGO Magazine/Webzine:-
"Peter Mottram has chosen his nom de guerre wisely, this debut showcasing a flesh and blood hybrid of deep house, ambient electronic dots and loops and synthpop as imagined by Momus and Squarepusher, all conjured out of a 19-inch computer rack. A relentlessly cold, masculine form, here electronica is touched by the hand of an angel and zips off to a planet peopled entirely by sirens. It’s a compelling place, one to which we hope he will invite us to again."
Reviewed by Fela Lewis April 2003.
22/4/03 - LEEDSMUSICSCENE Webzine:-
"The "Square Wave" EP from Huddersfeld's Signal Generator (Peter Morttram) is four tracks with (as far my lugs can tell) not a square wave anywhere. This is the non-threatening end of the electronica/ambient/techno spectrum with no laptops and no 30 minute wasp noises. It's packed with diddly tunes that loop and loop and reach steadily and blissfully upwards in a hopeful excited rush of optimism, good spirits and universal love. It's all about pleasure and calm. It's very listenable sonic candy that will make roomfuls of people want to get wriggly and go mmm.
The tunes are the most obvious point of reference. Each track in the set has at least one pentatonic kind of riff that holds the focus while the beats and the ambient noises work away in the background. The pattern is most pronounced in killer final track "Spacey". A very sweet four bar descending phrase on a light glockenspiel kind of noise. Not a melody as such, but it does what a good hook does - it snags itself right under your skin. Embellishments from the junior composer's handbook intermittently add and subtract themselves (a nice oboeish three note sequence for example) as the tune winds its way. There's little musical development as you might get in orchestral or post rock music and it does end at what seems like a randomly chosen moment. But for pop music it registers as pretty clever stuff and the label's claim to "leftfield" status is not completely off the mark. In "Laidback" the tune gets delayed till half way through - a nice touch because it's all the more welcome when it arrives. "Random" lurks in the minimalist end of the room and "PSS-780" at track 3 starts off like a Cadbury's Smash advert with some 80s geek doing android-stuck-in-a-glass-lift miming on TOTP2.
I set my nice stereo volume to "ridiculously loud for a semi" to check for aggressive bass lines. But they're warm and cuddly and the neighbours haven't moved out. So that's OK.
Overall it's the textures that give the variety and it's the machinery that generates the textures. The structures and tempos are pretty consistent (which I guess is exactly what they should be if they're dance oriented tracks). And the conclusive argument in its favour is that Phil Norman of Norman Records likes it. Signal Generator could be onto something here. Something exotic enough to really like, but not so adventurous that it's threatening. 3.5/5"
Reviewed by Sam Saunders April 2003.
4/2/03 - Overload Webzine:-
"A new label out of Huddersfield celebrates its debut release and quite frankly it's a bit of a corker. This is unpretentious and classic sounding electronica in the vein of early Aphex Twin/Rephlex. Main track 'Laidback' opens with eighties styled synth manoeuvres that are added to involving and exciting rhythms and melody. There is nothing fancy here, just solid beats, pure sounds and fluid melodies which really work. 'Random' is slower and heavier but maintains the elusive mood that moves feet but also massages the head too. There are two other tracks that are also pretty fine but the first two do it for me. It seems wrong to say it, but these tracks' simplicity are their beauty. My only complaint would be with the slightly naff song titles 'Spacy' and 'Random' for example. But hey you can't have everything. MH"
4/2/03 - Absorb Webzine:-
"bread'n butter electronics that takes it's influences from all sorts of sources. hardly original and critics like us are just dying to make poor-relation comparisons to those in the upper echelons of british electronica. but the evocative melody work on opener 'laidback' is immediately likeable and offsets any ill-feelings one may have had. in fact all the work here is characterised by some deft composition in the tuneage department. 'random' is more proof that signal generator have a bright future in this sort of stuff. absolutely worth the asking price. "
6/12/02 - Norman Records:-
"Signal Generator are some electronic dudes whove got a 4 track CD out on Occasional records. Blatantly taking their cue from the greats, the first tune is total mid 90's Aphex and U-Ziq in da house. Pretty synth strokes all over a nice banging analogue techno backdrop. The rest is all very fine indeed too. Danceable and accessible to the max! Let's hope that this isn't the kind of thing they only unleash occasionally! Can't recommend enough..."
13/1/03 - Immanence Webzine:-
"Square Wave is the first release by the new UK-based label, Occasional Records. I know very little about Signal Generator, but as far as I can tell, this is also their first release…and very impressive it is, too.
Starting with the appropriately titled “Laidback”, the EP immediately evokes the kind of sun-drenched imagery that garnered Boards of Canada so much acclaim. Indeed, their music comes from that same stable of indie-electronica with its lush, smooth sine wave basslines; flittering, uplifting melodies and complex electro beats. At times, it seems to become a little formulaic, or repetitive, but somehow then manages to pull itself back from the brink with a new injection of beats or gorgeously produced sounds.
The next track, “Random” again occupies the domain of relaxed electronica, but this time with a more fractured groove to it. This renders it less danceable but ultimately more dynamic, allowing the melodies (rather than the beat) to carry the track and really lift it. There are certain moments, when all the elements are brought into the mix, that gel together so well as to give the listener that unquantifiable shiver-up-the-spine feeling, something that I rarely encounter, even with many professional acts.
This is not so much the case with “PSS-780” which strains the atmosphere down to a dark, heady and acidic vibe with its Aphex-esque distorted drum machines and resonant-filtered basses. It’s a much more menacing composition than the other tracks on offer here, with an unrelenting pace and dirtier sounds. Nevertheless, it does still retain the wonderfully expanding structure whereby the track becomes gradually riddled with a dizzying number of components. It never sounds cluttered, though, each piece working in perfect harmony with the rest while still containing some kind of idiosyncrasy.
The final piece on Square Wave is titled “Spacey” that starts with a naïve, ice-cream-float melody whose lilting air carries and conducts the track through its five minute duration. It is a nice, subdued closing piece, featuring a nice array of plain analogue melodies and drum machine grooves. If anything, this would be my main criticism of Signal Generator that, while their instrumentalism and compositions are truly outstanding, the sounds they use seem all too familiar, never truly exciting my ears with their timbres.
Nevertheless I am very impressed with Square Wave, due to the fact that there is an outstanding level of musicianship – something that I find is often eschewed in favour of out-there sound design. This lends the tracks a great sense of depth, due to the interplay between each synth line – you get the feeling that these songs could be adequately reproduced on an acoustic piano, such is the strength of each melody.
Probably not a release for those seeking something groundbreaking or experimental, but if you are looking for a slice of relaxed, almost retro electronica, this has some truly yummy moments.
Gavin Lees 10.01.2k3"