It’s been close to 3 decades now since the birth of Madchester. Discos are now referred to as clubs, ecstasy is passÃ© and indie has infiltrated dancefloors. So where does that leave Mancunian alt dance trio Delphic? Sure, they came 3rd on BBC’s Sound Of 2010 list, which prompted one critic to say that their debut album Acolyte “might just be the first great album of 2010”. But are they the new New Order or just another rock band trying to go dance?
Let’s start by dispelling the Manchester myth. James Cooke, Matt Cocksedge and Richard Boardman (who make up Delphic with live drummer Dan Hadley) are not actually from the Factory city, though they’ve been based there for some time and are quite fond of the Hacienda sound. They’re now around 25 and were therefore too young to experience the initial rave explosion. So they compensate by listening to The Chemical Brothers, Orbital and techno music from Detroit.
The trio were in a 6-piece band called Snowfight in the City Centre. Delphic was a reaction to what they did before. Snowfight was too big, so they minimalised to the point of making the band’s name shorter.
Comparable with fellow indie dance boys Klaxons, Delphic create things electronically first before thrashing it out live with guitars, bass, drums and studio wizardry-courtesy of Berlin techno producer Ewan Pearson.
Opener ‘Clarion Call’ starts off with a riff that sounds like the intro to The Beatles’ ‘Helter Skelter’, except George Harrison’s frantic guitar is layered with clashing synths. “We all need time to change,” sings James in a chanting low hum and it isn’t long before change actually takes place and the song explodes with full-on breakbeats and bleeps.
‘Doubt’ is clearly the standout track on the album with a super catchy 80s-inspired chorus and some “ah-ee-aa-oo” robot vocals filling in the gaps between the skittering drums. Like most of the album, ‘Doubt’ fuses guitars into the music without being too distracting.
Taken from their EP last year, ‘Counterpoint’ is a familiar tune of letting go and finding yourself after a bad experience. Full of transcendental moments, it capitalises on the build-and-release formula of dance music. On the flipside, ‘Red Lights’ ditches its radio-friendly chorus midway and drifts into a lengthy, hypnotic instrumental section.
If you’re still guessing whether Delphic is more rock or more dance, then the 8 minutes of driving trance on the title track should answer your question. Sounding a bit like Sander Kleinenberg’s 2000 prog house standard ‘My Lexicon’, the track has barely audible vocals in the background and is sure-like every other song on Acolyte-to be remixed soon.
Delphic have one strong comparison to New Order, in that both bands feature rather weak vocals but magnificent melodies that work together to become part of the music, as opposed to going over it. And with that, JUICE concludes: this is dance.