Code Elektro Wolf

Code Elektro Wolf
6
Danish musician Martin Ahm's sophomore album as Code Elektro, Wolf, is competent but frequently uninspired. Ahm works in a very deliberate '80s cinematic sci-fi style here, and while his explorations are well judged and professional, he brings little that's particularly new to the table.
 
John Carpenter looms over most of the proceedings here, and the more urban soundscapes make it feel like Vangelis might, too. For fans of either of these artists, recommending Wolf is a no-brainer, but I suspect they'll mostly come away with newfound respect for Carpenter and Vangelis; menacing pads will pan across your headphones a hundred times, and simple quarter-note synth arpeggios will be explored at length, but nothing quite hits the heights that those pioneers did.
 
There's a distinct lack of payoff here; too often, tracks build towards something seemingly interesting, only to return to the same tiresome riff after a half-hearted interlude or rote breakdown.
The exceptions, and moments of welcome catharsis, are "Lost in Time," which features a thrilling, '80s-style guitar solo, and album closer "Postlude (Transformation)," which sports a great sax solo.
 
And yet, it's hard to not get caught up in Ahm's reverence for the material. If next time he can breathe some dynamic and melodic life into his expertly crafted atmospherics, he will be one to watch. For now, Wolf is a workman-like and well-intentioned exercise in '80s sci-fi fandom that fans of John Carpenter would be well advised to spin a few times. (Iceberg Records)