Neutral Zone - Hogofogo

Image of Neutral Zone - Hogofogo

£14.99

Artist: Neutral Zone
Title: Hogofogo
Release date: 03.11.17
SOUND 020
12" LP black vinyl

https://youtu.be/4B1uHOQFek0

A workshop crammed with classic racing bikes and a studio producing some of Switzerland’s most progressive artists sit side-by-side in the Swiss city of Winterthur, 20 miles from Zürich, forming the creative laboratory of producer and musician, David Langhard. From the tangle of recording equipment and spokes emerges HOGOFOGO, the streamlined 10-track album of electro-sorcery from Langhard in the guise of NEUTRAL ZONE, released on Salvation Records on Friday 3 November 2017. A four-strong live band, a 15-date UK and European Tour, including a date at The Social, London is announced to coincide with the release.

Pedalling from the cover is obscure, middle-ranking, ‘golden age’ Italian cyclist, Pierino Gavazzi, an athlete that has held fascination for Langhard since he was a child after being gifted a racing cap in Gavazzi’s team colours. The image is the perfect metaphor for the album, a stylishly determined celebration of melody and muscle, working together in harmony.

Inevitable comparisons with Kraftwerk aren’t shyly rejected, but recognised and warmly embraced by Langhard, who cites the band’s 1981 album, ‘Computer World’ as one of the best albums to cycle to, alongside up-tempo tracks by Pixies, The Specials and the canon of classic 1950s rock and roll. Renowned and praised for his work underpinning the recordings of fellow Swiss export, Klaus Johann Grobe, Langhard’s work as an innovative producer is matched by his own, artistic restlessness. A diverse and energetic career has seen Langhard awarded the Winterthur Kulturpreis, acclaimed by city officials in September 2017 for being “an experienced, stylish and versatile musician, whose influence and charisma reaches far beyond Winterthur.”

Touring Europe as a member of Howlong Wolf and Admiral James T, Langhard’s work on the fifth studio album from NEUTRAL ZONE extends a trip into synthesised sound that started in 1995 with nothing more than classic Casio SA-5 and Intersound PK-380 keyboards and a tape recorder. The growth of his own DALA Studios in his home city, alongside an ever-developing collection of vintage, analogue recording equipment (alongside the racing bikes) has seen a personal side project take to the fast lane and now, 22 years later, he presents an underground masterpiece.

In Langhard’s own words: “Put simply, Neutral Zone play organically crafted Krautrock on an array of vintage analogue equipment. They align the metro pulse of Klaus Dinger and Kraftwerk's calculators to more biological factors. This one is for fans of Kraftwerk, Devo, Klaus Johann Grobe, OMD, Curd Duca, Stereolab, Talk Talk, Perrey and Kingsley and Delia Derbyshire.”

HOGOFOGO weaves textures of classic electronica throughout its ten tracks, opening with Toujours Le Même, an insistent; adrenalin-drawing beat accompanied by spoken word samples and alien bleeps, before a burbling Moog ushers in the ethereal LED73. As the optimism of the rocket age falls into the deep pages of history, Space Travel emerges as if a time-traveller from iconic eras of both scientific and musical exploration, rich with spoken word samples, a rock-steady, languid beat and swooping, sci-fi accents.

The voice of Belgian cyclist, Eddy Merckx’s wife, speaking of her husband’s attempt to beat the hour record in 1972, plugs Langhard’s great cycling passion directly into the album, linking with Cycling Champion near to the album’s close as overt expressions of his admiration for the sport and the athletes that have taken two wheels to the road. The Bigger The Pile waves the album into the distance with NEUTRAL ZONE veering onto pop’s hard shoulder, proving Langhard’s genre-hopping dexterity with an impassioned, gently warped vocal line over a band that’s more blood and bone than wires and diodes.