This is Not A Game – Various Artists (Platform Records) – reviewed by Dave Franklin

this-is-not-a-game-artworkIt is a time of year given over to past reflection, a time when endless, end of year “best of’s,” clamour for your attention. It says something therefore that instead of dwelling on their past glories, and there are many, Platform Records took the opposite tack and looked to the future by releasing this compilation of recent signings, a showcase of what we have to look forward to coming from them in the year ahead.

A quick listen to this intriguing glimpse of the future immediately tells you a lot about Platform’s tastes. They label their interests as indie-pop and indie-rock but dig a little deeper and you will see that it is actually much cleverer than that. The artists they feature here have that wonderful balance of what’s to come and what has been, they tug at post-punk, underground pop and left field shoestrings whilst similarly offering a way forward, sounding fresh, now and yet often subversive. The cyclical nature of music fashion may go someway to explain this, the fact that the rough 30 year cycle that seems to exist means that some very resonant and recognisable vibes are surfacing again in modern music and whether through luck or judgement Platform have fallen on their feet. I suspect it is the latter and they lay out a musical stall that appeals to the current crop of music fans as much as it does those who get those older references.

References such as The Ultra’s wonderful melancholic, dream pop take on Bowie’s Berlin years, the inherent New Romanticism of Emporium, the JAMC-esque tribal stomp of Warm Winters and James Blames sounding like a warped version of early Human League. But for all the collections occasional backward glances, it very much faces the future, with acts such as Ross Trigwell offering some wonderful chart bothering potential and Indiana Foxx’s strange steam-punk reggae shedding light on some strange new pathways for the genre to explore.

With the demise of a music press that champions, or even barely mentions, the underground and its emerging artists, it is to small labels such as Platform Records that we should be looking, small oasis of passionate souls who provide the momentum to get exciting, challenging and unique artists to a wider audience. And if Platform are just one of those hidden oases in a desert of dross and bland commerciality, then This Is Not A Game is nothing less than a vital road map, without which you put your musical taste, if not your very life, in grave danger.

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