Rediffusion by Test CardRelease date: November 30, 2017
Label: sound in silence
How’s it going? You all done with Christmas? This could just be the warm bath of calm you’re longing to hide away in right now. I just got a paper hat, a plastic whistle and a riddle which asked “when is a christmas record not a christmas record?” Why, when it’s steeped in seasonally resonant melancholy nostalgia of course. Rediffusion has a glistening shot of frosty pine trees on the cover and a track called ‘Old Enough To Drink Sherry’ but that’s about it for festive touches. However it concerns itself with bittersweet memories of childhood in much the way this time of year plays out behind the tired and itchy eyes of exhausted adults. Don’t you remember when you were young, the world was magical and you still believed? Before you got old and tired, saw the world for the raging skip fire it is and embraced your own crushing failure? Let this dreamy blend of hazy electronica and minimal post rock guitar take you back there.
For any younger viewers just tuning in the test card was something that used to be on television of an afternoon during periods when there was no programming. Imagine such a thing. There were different versions but the one imprinted on the collective memory of a generation featured a girl sat at a blackboard with a disturbing clown surrounded by abstract patterns of black and white lines and bars of lurid colour. It was to help you tune the television and set the colour and contrast levels. Rediffusion was a broadcasting company that also made, sold and rented television sets. I still recall their little decal above the channel knobs. This is the childhood evoked through the titles here, like chapter headings of a memoir or captions for snapshots – ‘Those Long Dusks Of Summer’, ‘Another Early Night’, ‘Be Home In Time For Tea’, ‘My Favourite Conker Tree’. He keeps this up until the last track when he goes full Dad-pun with ‘I Feel So Adrone’ but we’ll let that slide.
Test Card is the latest project of Lee Nicholson who has been making music since the 90’s in various guises starting out in Preston’s Formula One. He now lives in Canada, raising the startling idea he might in some way be homesick for Preston. Nowt queer as folk indeed. The titles echo the mood of the music which is soft and lulling. Sparkling, meandering guitar lines float over warm synths and gently ticking, glitching, drum machines.
The opening track is the brightest and most present, from there it slowly wins down and away. ‘We Have Helium Balloons’ has twittering synths like bird song and an extended breakdown of looping human sighs. What it most reminds me of is Yellow 6 who, it turns out, has just put out a release on Sound In Silence too. There are no harsh sounds or rough edges here, nothing to frighten the horses or cause elderly relatives to tut at it softly unfurling in the background. Should you wish to be cruel you might call it hipster muzak but that would just be to miss the point entirely. It’s a warm blanket of reverie, a rosy hued remembrance salted with regret, a brief respite from the world’s horrors, even those of forced festive jollity. Close your eyes. And breathe.