So are you looking for something to get completely lost in? Something disconnected from the mainframe where time and space and inhibition have no place? Then welcome to the world of Proto Droids. Cybernetic World is that digital bridge between The Man-Machine and Madonna. Pure future electro-funk at the ready for any randy droid wanting to get their chromed-out freak on. This is the kind of album that needs no introduction when the needle drops on that first groove. The beat drops, the synth riff bends, and all bets are off.
Proto Droids is the latest project from Neil(Correlations)Hale. Hale works in the world of both Giallo funk and early 80s dance floor grooves. With Cybernetic World he’s combining the two to create something completely new, dark, and hypnotic. This record is a world of seedy corners, humid alleyways, and cyberpunk aesthetic. You can almost envision some Philip K. Dick narrative playing visually over this filthy little digital bath.
Opening track “Pleasure Mode” brings up dark, visceral feelings. Retro-futuristic funk that feels both like vintage Detroit disco and dystopian leather and lace landscape. I imagine Metropolis, but re-imagined by Ken Russell or Nicolas Winding Refn. “Heat Map” is all wavering synth and chromed-out sheen. It’s built to go all night. “Model 700” brings to mind a cross between Herbie Hancock, Art of Noise, and Michael Jackson ala Off The Wall. There’s this feeling that the mainframe has blown a few fuses and has gone rogue with the 808. Funky beats and handclaps as weapons of mass destruction.
There just isn’t any relenting from Hale as Proto Droids. Working as Correlations, Neil Hale worked in a mixture of dark ambient, Giallo depth, and industrial to make 2018s Aftermath harrowing and vital. Horror, giallo, and suspense combined to give the listener a shock to the senses. Cybernetic World is just as visceral, but without the threat of harm. That is, unless you can’t keep up on the dance floor. Something like “Porsche 928 Ocean Drive” is more in line with the dark grooves of Cliff Martinez’ Drive score than John Carpenter. It’s a heady slice of rhythm and electro weight. The nearly 7 and a half minute “Drooged Doper” works under your skin with both teased simplicity and an undercurrent of hazy dread. It’s a slow burn and slow build to a circuital climax. There’s even elements of Pet Shop Boys here, in the undercurrent of drama and melody.
Proto Droids’ Cybernetic World is the music obsession you’ve been looking for. 80s electro-disco meets Kraftwerk’s robo-pop sensibilities meets Metropolis on Molly. If this is the future, count me in.
8.4 out of 10
Listen to opening track “Pleasure Mode” below. Cybernetic World is available now for preorder via Spun Out Of Control.