London-based synthpop artist Rodney Cromwell has released two remixes of his new ‘Memory Box’ single via Happy Robots Records with distribution by Cargo Records. Presented as a 4-track offering together with the original version and the ambient track ”Memory Stops’, this is the first music from Cromwell in 2 1/2 years.
‘Memory Box’ is a song about perceptions of reality and the certainty of our memories. How do we believe anything in a world where truth and honesty are of so little worth?
The first remix is a reimagining by Düsseldorf / Shanghai krautrock band MOOD TAEG, whose discordant re-interpretation is reminiscent of the avant-pop of Stereolab or the European coldwave of Ladytron. The second mix, by Retrosynth Records artist AUW, is a slice of dark synthwave, pitched somewhere between Kavinsky and Pye Corner Audio.
Rodney Cromwell is the nom de plume of Adam Cresswell, founding member of 1990s-2000s indie-folktronica band Saloon (who had four entries in John Peel’s Festive 50, recorded three Peel Sessions and had top 10 album of the year in The Sunday Times) and one half of electronic two-piece Arthur & Martha (praised by the likes of NME, The Guardian and Artrocker).
With minimal percussion, Rodney Cromwell’s lyrics float over a bed of vintage synthesizers and effected guitar. Shunning a clean ’80s synth sound, the song is almost psychedelic in outlook, reminiscent of the minimal synth of acts such as Broadcast, Pram or Silver Apples. The video, an atmospheric montage of heavily effected and distorted shots of rural Britain, was inspired by film auteurs such as Stan Brakhage and Chris Marker.
Writing and recording in his home studio in Catford, South London, Cromwell employs an old-school approach using predominantly vintage hardware. Mixed and co-produced by Richard Bennett at Acme Hall Studios (New York) and mastered by Pete Maher (U2, Goldfrapp, Paul Weller, Pixies, The Alarm), Martin J Langthorne, who also designed the album artwork, contributes guitar.
“It was one of the first songs written for the new album. At the time I was still disorientated from illness. I turned on the TV and there was Boris Johnson’s lackey, Dominic Cummings, spinning some yarn. In my post-fever state he came across like Wormtongue from Tolkein, talking about riverbanks, woods and castles while literally sitting in a perfumed rose garden like in Alice in Wonderland. I wouldn’t say that influenced me directly, but certainly my own state of brain-fog sent my writing off in a more heady and fantastical direction,” explains Adam Cromwell.
“I wanted the song to have the feel of a marching clockwork toy, so the beat is really simple and metronomic with the synths doing the talking by enveloping the song.”
This single is the title track of the forthcoming ‘Memory Box’ album, A mixture of electronic hauntological excursions, dreampop and European coldwave that is scheduled for release in early 2022. Using analogue synths, drum machines with parts played almost entirely live (with minimal computer sequencing) and vocals recorded without autotune, this record conjures up an organic, albeit dream-like, world that is inspired as much by Alice in Wonderland, Franz Kafka and Anna Kavan as it is by its sonic influences such as Kraftwerk, The Cure and Stereolab. The sonic pallet of ‘Memory Box’ is both reassuringly familiar and completely distinctive.
Rodney Cromwell’s debut LP ‘Age of Anxiety’ (2015) and ‘Rodney’s English Disco’ EP (2018) have garnered Rodney Cromwell features in Electronic Sound Magazine, NME, Huffington Post, Paste, Record Collector, BBC6 Music and national RNE3 in Spain, for whom he also recorded a live session. The debut album featured in scores of Best of Lists including Electronic Sound Magazine and he was named ‘Most Promising New Act’ by The Electricity Club. He has appeared on compilations alongside Cavern of Anti-Matter, John Foxx, Devo, OMD, Katy Perry and other notable artists.
Rodney will be playing a handful of live dates to support the album’s release. His debut festival appearance at Indietracks 2015, described as ‘a spiritual experience”, led to further festival appearances in the UK and in Spain, in addition to supporting artists such as Pram, Marsheaux, Death & Vanilla, Rowetta and Steve Davis. In 2020, he also performed as part of Damo Suzuki‘s backing band.