Album Review: Programm ‘Like the Sun EP’

Programm Like the Sun EP
(The Hand Recordings – February 17, 2015)
(Shoegaze, Electronic, Rock)

Often enough preconceptions are made regarding musical direction based on the artist’s name alone – and with a name like Programm I quickly had the wrong idea. Programm – which is program with an extra ‘m’ for emphasis seems like the music would be extra digital (whatever that means) and this is where my thought had found a comfortable place to lie. And although my initial take was a bit off it wasn’t embarrassingly incorrect. Programm, just like the name suggests, uses a fair amount of digital accoutrement to spice up their sound but you wouldn’t peg them explicitly electronic. Being both female and male fronted, Programm grafts New Order’s gothic pop and Tamaryn style shoegaze, finally settling on a deeper connection to the latter.

In 2009, thirty minutes outside of Toronto, ON, Programm met it’s early beginnings with vocalists Jacob Soma and Jackie Game, as well as, soundscaper Mark Plishewsky. In efforts to establish who they would later become the trio dabbled in drone and electronic minimalism while embracing their appreciation for post-punk, shoegaze, and krautrock. Many of their influences are heavily illustrated as dissonant guitar and dense synth textures layer silkily over interesting programmed beats. Each member’s multi-instrumentalism helps develop the distinct attributes between each song and although it’s hard to get bored with only four tracks, Programm shows a knack for avoiding monotony.

Minute by minute, Like the Sun demonstrates promise for a band still experimenting with the questions of, “who? and what?” – but in their defense this feels far removed from a freshman effort. The EP’s opener and single, “Like the Sun,” sends carefully crafted mixed signals with lush beautifully shaped dream pop that shapes the message of a pragmatic lover who is afraid of the damage lust creates, “We’re diving into a bed of lust…Just like the Sun.” With unwavering pressure, “We Barely Escaped” builds from drone buzzing to precise, sterile rhythms, spotlighting rife unavoidable tension – here Jacob Soma projects his vocal in a dry but very fitting way, painting a lackluster response to a close call. From here each track continues the streak of finding contrast with the one preceding it, “ZeroZeroZero” is the more deliberate effort on Like the Sun, tying in distorted and affected guitar that cracks in and out as the song disintegrates into a void that is filled quickly with an emotional piano arrangement resolving the narrative’s unease.

Like the Sun is what light listening should strive for – meaningful themes packaged in lush soundscapes, just in time for summer.

Keepers:
“Like the Sun”
“ZeroZeroZero”

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