Well, this is quite a riot. Renowned experimental library musician The Man From Uranus has teamed up with 8-bit chiptune artist and fan of Gameboy and Commodore 64 sounds, Jellica, to produce an LP using as many duck-sounding synth noises as they can find. If it sounds like I have been munching on some mushrooms, well I haven’t and not only is this album something I never thought I would be listening to, but I never thought I would enjoy its eclectic zaniness quite so much.Over the course of fourteen tracks, the listener is taken on a helter-skelter electronic voyage, rushing along with the warm memory of Jean-Jacques Perrey, scooping up electronics wizard Roger Roger and warmly ensconced in a feather duvet. A halo of Tetris clouds and Pong oblongs encircling our heads, we’re shoved headfirst down a slide and into a land of mysterious, slightly sinister waterfowl and the joys and vagaries of sound that a series of reasonably priced synths and archaic video games can produce.
The opener “Lazer Guided Ducks” kind of does what it says. Mewling sounds redolent of childhood Gameboys are used in a repetitive, hypnotic manner to produce a hyped-up rhythm that induces both old memories and hysteria at the same time. Random noise are interjected into the rhythm, from splishes and splashes to things being fired and duck noises, to create a hyperactive, crazed track that both lulls and jars.The phasers are certainly set to stun on most tracks, but interestingly in the pursuit of their singular goal, some of the tracks do knock on the door of one or two current artists before blowing a duck call and a raspberry through the letterbox and running away on comedy webbed feet. I can hear Trans Am on the track “Sinister Arrangements”, with its machine gun rhythm and selection of synth sounds, the martial element descending into waltz-like child’s play as the track slows down towards the end; and also maybe even a little of the Stranger Things soundtrack — but imagined with ducks in the lead roles. One particularly nice image is of Colourbox‘s “Official World Cup Theme”, which is evoked in the bouncy Eurohit of “Duck Instructions”.
A few could easily be used for some crazy Europop children’s television shows; in fact you can almost see the ducks seriously filing past on “Duck Parade” (Perhaps they should talk to Harry Hill) whereas The Moomins-like atmosphere of “Training Academy”, with its Fifties space vibe and random xylophone, evoke some of the Music for Perfume experiments.The breakneck, almost gabba-like beat of “Schroedinger’s Duck” would make for a fantastic addition to any DJ’s repertoire. In fact, I was thinking as I listened to Duck Wars, how much fun you would have on the dancefloor with this on the playlist. “Mad Motherducker” could work, as could “Combatitive Relationships”. The rest of the time could be spent trying to work out where the samples came from. I can recognise one or two. I am sure I heard Galaxy Invader and maybe Donkey Kong. Who knows; I am sure it is a closely guarded secret.
Whatever the weather, make your way to their Bandcamp site. There are only 300 of these babies available, so lovers of library esoterica, fans of the eight-bit movement, old video game enthusiasts and people with a duck-shaped void in their record collection — I urge you before they fly off the shelves. (Sorry but, it is the only bird-related joke in the review…)