Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Pure Delphic gold

Picture a large-windowed meeting room in Hammersmith, late 2009. In its centre is a large, expensive-looking wooden table, and around it sit a gaggle of people with various roles that we'll come to in a minute. Why are we all here? Well, today we're going to talk about Manchester's brightest hopes Delphic.

Let's introduce everyone. Him in the horn-rimmed specs is label marketing guy, next to him there's the slightly less important label guy, to his left there's telly plugger bloke, woman on the Blackberry next to him is radio woman, those two over there are the digital agency, and then there's the people that buy the ads and whatshername from the offline PR company.

What follows is a kind of mutual glans-teasing - we go round the table, and everyone shares their initial thoughts on this Serious new band we've all got on our hands after last year's tenure with the Cool French Label. Radio woman mentions she schmoozed some fella from the Beeb recently and handed him a stack of CDs. He's been a fan for a while, 'bit New Order-y, really trades on the heritage. A/B list for sure. On the list for 2010, yeah?'.

Telly bloke's little slot is basically 'namedrop as much as fucking possible until you run out of feasible names'. It's all Wossy this and Jools that and oh fuck knows, has he stopped fucking talking yet? 'Ticks boxes. New Order, Manc attitude. Uncompromising. Fuck yeah. Fuck.'

Offline lass has been mailing out promos for the big 2010 push, along with a press release loosely thrown together with you-couldn't-make-it-up cliches such as 'Northern sulphuric spirit', and 'from the city that brought you....'. This is signed off by the label in hours as, despite occuring 20 years after them being relevant, the merest mention of New Order in association with a Manchester band equals 'they know what they're getting'.

This continues for another half hour or so - what is said is not important, it essentially involves reducing everything down to base level, stimulating to climax and dishing out a few more meaningless soundbites for everyone to take home and half-remember next time they're on the phone to some poor unfortunate who was only phoning the office to chase an invoice.

Craft an image all you like, write as many meaningless press releases as you want. A few throwaway phrases from this meeting have now become your calling card amongst people who matter. You're the 'Bloc Party with a keyboard', the 'Kitsune New Order'. And it doesn't help that you actually sound like a 3rd-rate New Order either.

Fast forward until the excreable 'ones to watch' lists for 2010 appear, and sure enough, we're on them. Time to really ramp up the meaningless, fawning hyperbole that only a New Manc Sensation can attract. Insist you're too young to have heard 'Blue Monday', profess you were raised on Nirvana, whatever. You've got a keyboard and we're going to wheel out the usual, sunshine. Let's not tax anyone with any names they don't recognise.

Of course, New Mancunia can only exist when coupled with a relevant partner from the past.

You like a bit of a widdle on the guitar?
Obviously you're 'Channelling Vini Reilly's Durutti Column at their creative peak'.

Drummer a bit busy?
'The bare soul of Donald from ACR shimmers at the side of the stage, nodding approvingly like a jazz-funkual Yoda'

Bought a keyboard?
'New Order's 'Technique' given an icy glance across the frozen wastes of time'

Let's sit back and digest some of this first-hand. Delphic are due to play at Manchester's Islington Mill sometime soon. You can read the listing here: Delphic Live! @ Islington Mill

Have a read of the blurb for Delphic, as written by the promoters. No-one's even fucking trying. It's from the same yellowing 'Manc 101' music Thesaurus Pete Robinson left in the shell of the Pleasure offices after he'd spunked the last of Rob Gretton's money 10 years ago.

Which is a shame, as there's always been decent bands from Manchester, indeed there are now, but this is just lazy 'good old days' reminiscence, nicely dovetailing with the wince-inducing appearance of the FAC251 club. It's the done thing. And it seems like it'll never go away.
"Delphic, a four-piece who rose about a year ago out of the ashes of briefly hyped Manc band Snowfight In The City Centre, are very much a celebration of 80s Manchester. And we definitely mean when New Order's futuristic disco pop ruled the waves and waived the rules - as opposed to 90s Manchester, when Oasis and the Roses made a virtue out of going back to chirpy harmonies and conservatively deployed guitar, bass and drums.

So Delphic are looking back to a period when white guitar bands refused to look back. But it's a welcome form of nostalgia, and one that's being given a contemporary kick because they emerge, coincidentally but fortuitously, just as New Order's back catalogue - that decade's most impressive body of work (the Smiths and Prince included) is being reissued and re-evaluated by the music monthlies. Their song titles - Doubt, Counterpoint - are very New Order while some sound so New Order-esque we're perilously close to Oasis-do-the-Beatles karaoke territory: one track, Submission (you can just see that word in some elegant Peter Saville font), has the plangent, trebly bass sound - that could also pass for a deep, mournful guitar sound - of New Order's Brotherhood album."



  1. Much as you may think you are, you are not Charlie Brooker.

  2. In only 203 words there are:

    5 X New Order's
    2 X Oasis
    1 X Stone Roses
    1 X The Smiths
    1 X Peter Saville
    (1 X Beatles & 1 X Prince?!)

    Personally my favourite bullsh.. sentence:
    "Their song titles - Doubt, Counterpoint - are very New Order while some sound so New Order-esque we're perilously close to Oasis-do-the-Beatles karaoke territory: one track, Submission (you can just see that word in some elegant Peter Saville font)"

  3. Brooker fanboys.
    You're an even bigger streak of piss than Delphic. CIF is that way, you cunt. ---->