Rodney Cromwell is the alter-ego of Adam Cresswell. ‘Age of Anxiety’ is the sound of personal demons being confronted by the power of disco. Its ten tracks feature the signature sounds that fans of Cresswell’s previous incarnations have become familiar with; an innocent pop-sensibility, Krautrock rhythms, melodic bass lines, toy instruments and a multitude of lo-fi moogs, ARPs and vintage synths. It is an album for fans of Factory Records, 80’s coldwave and those four guys from Dusseldorf who thought they were robots.
Track highlights include Barry was an Arms Dealer an infectious motorik-beat powers a vocodered tale of juvenescent paranoia. You will struggle, a duet with Cosines singer Alice Hubley, is an octave-bass driven disco-lament on romantic despair. Cassiopeia is an interstellar instrumental of love and loss. The Blue Cloud is the sound of an electronic panic attack. And the epic, Black Dog, is an unconventional song about depression, with robust synths, plaintive harmonies and blissful, chorus heavy bass riffery.
The only previous release under the Rodney Cromwell moniker was a single song, Radagast the Brown, released on a bizarre tribute to The Lord of the Rings compilation, way back in 2002. At the time, Adam was bass and synth player in cult folkatronica act SALOON (1999-2003). He was Saloon’s founding member and shaped the sound of the band, whose career highlights included the release of three LPs, album of the year acclaim in the national press, substantial play on US college radio, three Peel Sessions and being voted into John Peel’s Festive 50 on four occasions, including the no.1 in 2002. But, a year after this Festive 50 success, Saloon fell-apart: the band blamed this on the tedium of touring the pub-circuit in a reconditioned Royal Mail post van.
Adam then went on to form ARTHUR & MARTHA (2005-09). This electronic two-piece were compared to Kraftwerk, OMD, Gilbert & George and received rave reviews from the likes of the NME and Artrocker and multiple radio plays from Huw Stephens, Gideon Coe and Steve Lamacq, before unexplainably disappearing, only weeks after releasing their debut album ‘Navigation’. Adam’s compositions have always been fuelled by notions of love and heartbreak, and operate in the netherworld between despair and comedy.
Despite its themes of postmillennial tribulation, ‘Age of Anxiety’ is an idyllic, uplifting and danceable collection of songs. It is an optimistic album; an autobahn of calm, marching to the electronic beat of 127 – to disco heaven. It is the fifth release by Happy Robots Records.