REPAIR with ERIC DOWNER , LEE OSBORNE , and IAN GUTHRIE at Footwork (425 Adelaide West), Saturday (August 6). $10 before midnight, more after. www.repair-lab.com. Rating: NNNNN
Twin brother techno producers Matt and Mark Thibideau love their gear. When you enter the apartment they share, the studio they built is the first thing you notice - meticulously organized, the walls lined with a what's what of vintage synths and drum machines. The few unglamorous boxes have been modified into unique and unpredictable beasts by their friend Jacob Fairley.
In many circumstances, this circuit fetish could degenerate into disposable music about technology, but Convenient Arrangements, their recently released debut full-length album, is much more grounded in proper songs and chord progressions than you'd expect from two guys so enamoured of gear.
"We'd had this idea of writing songs for a while, but we put it off and concentrated more on the techno side of things," explains Matt. "When we decided it was time, the label was interested in trying it out as well, so we figured, 'Why not?'"
"We didn't want to do another typical techno record - not because we don't like that, but we wanted to try something more interesting," interjects Mark. "We're at a time in music where people are tired of everything being the same, in both the techno and rock worlds."
Convenient Arrangements sees the Thibideaus revisiting some of their 80s synth pop roots, and there's a bit of a Cocteau Twins quality courtesy of long-time collaborator Dawn Lewis, whose ethereal vocals have become a major part of the Repair sound. It's tempting to question whether the 80s references are a bit opportunistic in the context of recent trends, but as Matt explains, there wasn't any pressure to jump on the new wave revivalist bandwagon.
"It's actually been completely the opposite. In Europe, they're still heavily into tracky tech house and instrumental electronic music in general, as opposed to here in North America, where the rock thing is so much bigger."