I don’t know if those who are reading this right now are into science much, but if you ever need a go-to name for a band or musical project, chemistry more often than not, will not fail you. Alkaline Trio kinda leaps out at me straight away as the most well-known example of a chemical reference in mainstream music, as well as my personal favourite Bullets And Octane, but lurking deep within the realms of the musical underground, there are many names derived from the periodic table of elements, chemical reactions, biological chemistry and so on and so forth. Sometimes that name can stand out so much, it starts to become educational. In the origin of Formalin’s name however, it’s not only scientifically educational but culturally educational, if you are familiar with the works of a certain Damien Hurst. Formalin, is also known as formaldehyde solution, of which formaldehyde is responsible for Hirst’s notorious shark exhibit being preserved for as long as it has been. Sorry, you came here for music, not A Level Science. But the synthesis of formaldehyde into formalin, shares a common property with the band itself, in their music is obtained through the synthesis of wavelengths and frequencies to create a aesthetically darker electronic pop hybrid. The production duo from Berlin are a growing name on the European electro-industrial scene for their fusion of clean, air-tight percussion and gritty but entrancing synth lines, all drizzled with a little sleaze for dancefloor seduction. There are some nuances from EDM and commercialised dubstep in there too, just to give a little harder edge and sharpness to the electronics, but there’s a whole realm of lavish future-pop melodies to take command of the exquisite rhythms and atmosphere. This year’s Supercluster is a testament to how crisp every note, beat and vocal comes across from these gentlemen, and by far one of this year’s most enchanting synth-driven albums. The empowering Above The Sun is perhaps the strongest case for this argument, its deep, penetrating drum pulse powering the architecture and precision of each synth layer for maximum effect. Some sparkle, some twitch, some scream and shout, and some throb, but all thread together to move your body in ways you had no idea it could. Of course this all plays into the hands of the vocals which speak directly to your aural channel, playing the devil’s advocate if it were, persuasive in tone but with a devious intention. There’s true substance in the Formalin recipe, a dazzling but ocean-deep formula, complete with the marvels and menaces of the marine kingdom to boot. The duo from Berlin are providing a sterling addition to the electro-industrial underground, produced with laser-precision calibre and with an addictive sensibility that deserves to breach forth into the spotlight.
Formalin’s three albums, this year’s Supercluster, 2012’s Wasteland Manifesto and 2010’s Bodyminding are all available from most respectable music retailers. A select few of their tracks are available on Soundcloud for your listening pleasure and they are due to be touring later this year too.