PREMIERE: Delia Derbyshire Appreciation Society Offer Soft Drones and Sweet Romance on Self-Titled Debut
Analog synths, gentle moods, and Doctor Who.
Garry Hughes and Harvey Jones have both been around for a bit—Hughes has worked with Björk, Sly and Robbie, and more, while Jones is a collaborator of Julian Cope, Carla Bley, and Chris Boti—but it wasn’t until they discovered a mutual appreciation for the modular synth–based electronic music of the 1970s that they decided to record together. While both artists have long and deep relationships with the genre, their mutual entry point was decidedly mainstream: the Doctor Who theme song, which was made by Delia Derbyshire. Hence, when it came time for Hughes and Jones to release their debut collaborative album, it only made sense for them to call themselves Delia Derbyshire Appreciation Society.
The name is more than a cute tribute. In much the same way that Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein’s Stranger Things theme has served as a gateway to the work of John Carpenter and others, Derbyshire’s work introduced an untold number of people to an otherwise challenging and obscure mode of sound; you may be in the Delia Derbyshire Appreciation Society without even realizing it.
Of course, Hughes and Jones aren’t exactly content to set the tone for someone else’s work. Their debut album, which we’re premiering today, is a wide-ranging portrait of electronic sounds that, while gentle and non-obtrusive, has a distinct personality and ambition. “I worry, just a little, that some contemporary synthesists are more interested in the gear than in writing music that might move people,” Jones says, and accordingly, the album takes us on a gentle tour of romance and pain, sweetness and longing; at times it can feel like biting into a piece of bruised fruit. There are hints of Low-era Bowie, and just a shade of the optimistic ambience of Eno circa Music for Airports, but there’s a sense of propulsion and narrative to this record that swirls around you and invites you to come along.