Scott Hardware is the new solo project of Toronto musician Scott Harwood, who previously made hazy electronic pop as Ken Park, was a member of drone rock band Ostrich Tuning and has been a touring member of Hooded Fang. During a stay in Berlin, Harwood fell in love with dance music, a key influence on his new material.
While his club inspirations are easy to spot on debut Mutate Repeat Infinity, he’s still got at least one foot in the indie pop world. The chunky drum machine sounds, synth washes and house music pianos act as tools to frame his vocals. The results are more in the family of Pet Shop Boys or Hot Chip’s grown-up dance pop than Berlin minimal techno.
Hardware’s sonic palette is relatively limited, and that simplicity gives a focus to the recordings even when he drops the tempo on songs like Indictment and Gertrude. He often sounds like he’s trying to walk that fine line between raw and glossy production, and doesn’t fully commit to either. The songs end up with more of an 80s feel than he likely intended, although they’re far from retro synth pop.
At only six songs, this cassette teases at where he might go next. Listeners familiar with his work as Ken Park will recognize traces of his former persona, but the material is more crisp and upbeat. It’ll be interesting to hear if he ends up taking more direct inspiration from dance music in the future – we’d hate for him to turn his back completely on his pop tendencies.
Top track: Black Humour
Scott Hardware opens for Odonis Odonis June 24 at the Velvet Underground and plays Double Double Land July 9. See listing.