Over nearly a decade, Soccer96 have metamorphosed from a punk-spirited DIY outfit to cosmic dreamers who use sound to travel the mind. Their latest releases – fiery astral jazz cuts – represent the duo’s best work yet, and so it’s a great time to catch them live at YES on 16 October.
You might know the duo – Danalogue (Dan Leavers) and Betamax (Max Hallett) – better as being two thirds of Mercury nominated band The Comet Is Coming. If not, you’ve probably heard Danalogue’s production work somewhere along the way – on the likes of Snapped Ankles, Ibibio Sound Machine or Bo Ningen. The pair have many musical tentacles, but Soccer96 represents something of a creative home, one whose door is open to influences as diverse as Boards of Canada, Roots Manuva and Squarepusher.
That door has also, of late, been open to various collaborators. Poet and saxophonist Alabaster dePlume featured across the duo’s excellent 2020 EP Tactics, embodying the voice of a disaffected generation, his vocal performances an acerbic and sardonic take on the hypocrisies of the leftist ideal. The music was equally impassioned, irrepressible, combining motoric synths with scorching beats and celestial atmospherics in a delicate balance of dark and light, heavy and danceable.
Now the duo are gearing up for the release of their next album, entitled Dopamine, and from what we’ve heard so far, it’s going to be great. The title track – a heady, cosmic squelcher – features vocals from art punk artist Nuha Ruby Ra, whose recent EP How To Move has been turning a lot of heads. On her tune with Soccer96, she sings from the perspective of the human while the duo embody the machine – specifically addictive tech, luring the helpless human deeper into an irreversible symbiosis. Humanity’s entanglement with technology, we’re told, is a theme that the album will explore at length.
This new tune, as with all of Soccer96’s music, is built out of the raw energy of the duo’s improvisations – it’s how they instil such visceral adrenaline into every track. That fact makes them a great live act. On stage, they play everything completely live, with no laptops, sequencers or software of any kind. It’s a recipe for live electronic music that’s truly exciting, impulsive, dangerous, and as far as the whole human vs machine thing goes, this is a symbiosis we’re comfortable with.