Some albums really do need to come with a warning. In the case of The High Road by The Present Moment, it would read a little something like: This album may cause withdrawl symptoms from the slightly dizzying effects of strobe lights; the dusty, lung-filling scent produced by smoke machines and the general heart-palpitation-inducing atmosphere of night clubs. It’s true, I’m a few years past the socially acceptable age of clubbing, but I very nearly grabbed my last pair of these and hit the town after listening to this.
Hailing from LA, artist Scott Milton has produced an album that, in terms of musical scope, fairly well epitomises that night club scene, the kind where nary a braindead pop hit is heard and music doesn’t just add to the ambience, it is the ambience – and the people are thriving on it.
The primary forces of The High Road draw on some of the more subversive elements of that scene – namely dark wave, goth and industrial. Opening with the nicely ominous ARRIVAL, an intro glazed with drone, the tone is set for a slightly jaded, occasionally cynical eye to be cast from the observervational point of a dark corner of the room, while those being observed remain completely oblivious as the beat goes on.
Tracks such as No Pieces Fit and the title track itself, The High Road, lean more towards synth numbers with subdued melodies and energetic rhythms, though things do get a little more sinister and occasionally aggresive. From the murky, droning bass in EMILY, to the outright frustration displayed on THE DAMAGE IS LOVED, where the frantic industrial core drives it to the point vehement despair.
The High Road, at the very least, should be played loud – much louder than is necessary to annoy the neighbours so that you can’t hear them knocking on the door. But for my money, it needs to be heard in that other place – the place where darkness and light coexist in the flash of a bulb, curls of smoke obscure and frame the dance floor, and where the energy isn’t just directed by the music, it’s responsible for creating it.