Add N To (X) Loud Like Nature

"I see a pinball machine as an instrument and I see a guitar as an instrument and I see a synth as an instrument," says Barry 7 of Brit "band" Add N to (X). "It's the randomness, the serendipity of it. You never know what sound you're going to create, but it makes this great fucking noise." Since 1997, the trio, which also includes the less mysteriously named Ann Shenton and Steve Claydon, have been following the electro-punk blueprint laid down by the likes of Suicide, albeit creating their own unique spin, dubbed "avant-hard." But though their vintage synths are now much in demand, thanks to the whole electro-revival, they've maintained their decidedly old school approach, eschewing Pro Tools programming for live-to-tape analogue keyboard workouts, minimal repetitive samples (but plenty of found-sound recordings, such as street traffic and pinball machines) and mean-ass guitars. "We tried to make it a bit more filthy and rock'n'rolly." Barry's not kidding. Their fifth full-length is a messy concoction that roams from the glammed-up Detroit rock bounce and disconcerting screams of "Total All Out Water" and the falsetto guitar rave-up "Sheez Mine" to the futuristic feedback fuzz of "Invasion of the Polaroid People" (featuring creepy spoken word from legendary producer Kim Fowley) and the horror flick orchestral tics that propel "U-Baby." "I want to take piece of electronic music that has a visual image and relate that to rock'n'roll," he adds. "That for me is kind of perfect; that's a city street to me. I understand the world through traffic noise and all the lights and the general aggression of being on the street, and that's what rock'n'roll is and what electronic is." Many have tried to marry punk and dance in the past, but few have succeeded, because too often the worst genetic traits of both emerge in the offspring. But by writing this album separately (Ann in Idaho, Steve in London and Barry in New York) and bringing in guest musicians (including Pulp's Richard Hawley), they've nailed an almost ideal synthesis. Though some tracks, such as "Electric Village" and the laconic "Up the Punks," certainly sound less than inspired, rarely does Loud... feel forced. Maybe it's because Add N to (X) realise that a white shock of skyward mad scientist hair is just a mohawk without the cool name. (Mute)