Published Jun 06, 2014Named after a trio of characters from J.G. Ballard's early short stories, Kline Coma Xero is the part homage/part musical project of Californian synth wizard Tony Williams. On his group's self-titled debut, Williams channels synth wave's 8-bit aesthetic, delivering a dozen analog-encrusted tracks that prefer sound over substance. Finding itself placed firmly within 1983, the music of Kline Coma Xero never sinks into the dark abyss that defined Cabaret Voltaire or the Normal, but also comes off more self-aware than pop-centrists like Gary Numan or the Human League.
The strongest songs of the batch — the robo-call-and-response of "Left Behind," the achingly melodic "Rewind" and the lo-fi "Casualty Ward" — are equal parts aurally stimulating and buzzing and angular. But for the entirety of the album, it's Williams' own debt to his equipment that makes the album sound at times stagnant. For fans of '80s synth-pop, Kline Coma Xero is a wonderful addition to the genre; for the rest, it's a slight rehash on a bygone era. (Medical Records)