(Possession Records/Wave Tension)
Here at Outsideleft we have gotten pretty good at spotting truly independent talent whenever it rears its head, and Soft Riot certainly fall into that category fair and square. Soft Riot are Canadian Glaswegian (in that he is Canadian and now resides in Glasgow) Jack Duckworth who composes, performs, records, produces, mixes, releases and promotes entirely by himself, including producing a string of immaculately crafted videos and running Possession Records. The only way I can see of him managing this alongside earning a living as a graphic artist is that he has either secretly perfected time stretching technology, or successfully cloned himself. Setting that aside, 'No', the tenth Soft Riot album in a row is yet another step forward. All of the recognisable Soft Riot elements are here. Stentorian vocals preside over often brutally punchy drums, whilst alternately bubbling or razor-sharp analogue synths battle it out in a sound that is both retro and futuristic in the vein of Parade Ground with EBM elements.
Standout tracks include the singles 'A Spade Is Played Again' and the album opener 'Linked Between Two Minds'. (which I guess is why they were pulled out as singles), with the more experimental introductions to each side of the vinyl album (Soft Riot having been good enough to actually provide us with a physical copy, which few acts do) possibly hinting at the future direction Soft Riot may be heading in. There is also a limited edition 'zine, or rather 'song notes and patches', included with the vinyl edition, describing in forensic detail the thinking process behind each track. Perhaps too much detail, as when he started talking about D flats and F minors I confess I began to glaze over a bit! Much of this album was cooked up in lockdown as so many artists have done. In fact one of the hidden benefits of lockdown may very well have been to force all acts off the road and make them stay at home and write without that pressure. 'No' is a perfect example of the fruition of that process and the deep thought and obsessive attention to detail Jack gives to everything he does, meaning you really have very little option but to say 'Yes' to 'No'.
Out 11 August in all formats. Vinyl edition includes limited edition zine.